The Skin Shop

The story which is semi autobiographical tells the story of Ralph Mason Growing up in Collingwood Terrace in North Shields in 1948. it is a story of Hardship, poverty, love, and friendship just after the Second World War. Some names have been changed and I have used some poetic licence to bring the story to back to life as some of the places talked about in this story are no longer with us. "The Skin Shop is one boys journey into manhood. i


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Once outside he ran down the Lane onto Albion Road Then down Springs Terrace and onto Coach Lane. From there it was just down Tanners bank and past the Wooden Doll pub and then he was onto the quay.

He passed his Uncle Bills store where he worked and asked if he was about.

“He’s in the back young un’ said Micky Robson what can I get yer.’

“Have you got a bit of mackerel; I’m going fishing with wor John.’

“Hang on a bit and I will get you some and cut it up for yer.’

Micky walked to the back of the store just as his Uncle came out your young un’ is out there; he’s come to get some mackerel for fishin’

It’ll be wor Ralphie is it.’

Aye said Micky as he picked up two large mackerel and filleted them in a blur then cut them into small chunks so that they could be baited on a hook.

He wrapped up the fish in some newspaper then brought it out.

“Thanks’ Micky said Ralph and he was about to walk away when his uncle stopped him.

“Here Ralphie here’s a few bob for you and wor John; get yersel some chips later.’

He gave his nephew five shillings and Ralph thanked him then ran off towards the fish quay sands where he said that he’d meet his brother.’

It was low tide and the lads were all on the pier not the steps as Ralphie reached them.’

“Well how is Terry then they all asked and Ralph spent the next five minutes explaining about his injuries. “I told him that you are all asking after him.’

How long they keeping him in then?’

“Six weeks he said.’

“So he gets an extra four weeks holiday, the jammy sod.’

“That’s what I said.’

Ralph unravelled his line baited the hooks then twirled the weighted end around in a circular motion then let go. The line peeled out as he kept his foot on the wooden line holder. It went down and down until it reached the bottom he then sat down with his legs dangling over the side like the rest as he held the twine between finger and thumb waiting for that tug on the line.

“Did you dig for any worms John?’

“Aye we got a few small ones; but we’ve got two dozen peeler crabs that we can use.’

“Great; I have two large mackerel here.’

“Did you go to Uncle Bills like?’

“Aye he gave me five bob for us to get chips with later.’

“Good old Uncle Bill eh.’ we’ll be able to get fish cake and a bottle of Wilkinson’s lemonade as well and still have some change left for sweets from Duncan’s shop.’

It was now four o’clock and the tide was definitely on the turn.’

The small breakers were bashing against the side as Mattheed brought in his line then replace the empty hook with a small piece of mackerel then lobbed it back out.

 They looked out as the Jupiter made its way out to sea the tugs pulled it out to the bar then the ropes were let go and the ship carried on its journey. The sun shone its golden shimmer upon the water which had all the lads covering their eyes.

Twenty minutes later Ralph got his first bite he waited patiently as the fish took the bait then he struck.

“I’ve got something said Ralph as he slowly brought the fish in. It was a nice codling about three pounds.’

“Look at that he’s the last one here and the first to catch a fish.’

“Some of us are just born fishermen Mattheed.’

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