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.


34. 34

“Yes well just wait until I get one then we will see.’

We go back to school in a fortnight so you’d better hurry up.’

Ralph had re-baited his hook and was back in the same spot as before; it was only in the water thirty seconds when Ralph was in again; this time with a bigger one.

That’s more like it said Ralph as Mattheed brought in his line and tried to place it where Ralph had thrown his line.


Ralph put some more mackerel on then cast out his line as his brother John got a knock on his line.

The fish are coming on now lads so check your lines and get them back out again.

John brought in another nice sized codling.

 Mattheed stood up then yanked on the line; got one he announced.’

“You just took the fishes head off pulling like that.’

“It’s a big un’ he proclaimed as he dragged in the line.’

“Can you feel it fighting Mattheed asked Tucker Young who was now getting bites himself.’

Everyone looked over the side in anticipation as Mattheed brought his line to the side of the pier. He pulled with all his might as the big lump of Kelp was dragged onto the wooden walkway.

“Kelp fish lads it’s a new species.’

“Funny said Mattheed as he removed the kelp; underneath was a small whiting about three inches long.

“I did get one look.’

“Wow it’s a monster look.’

They watched as Mattheed unhooked it and threw it back in. The little fish tried to dive down but its gill bladder was full of air preventing it from doing so. It went further and further out; its head bobbing on the waves then it was spotted by a seagull and the bird dived down and swooped. The fish was in the bird’s beak and then it tilted its head and swallowed the fish whole.

“I’m not coming back as a fish said Mattheed.’

“No your coming back as a scarecrow; I here Jackson’s farm are paying good money for scarecrows these days said Manny as the rest fell about laughing.’

“Cheeky sods.’

Mattheed threw his line back in and this time tied some peeler crab onto his hook.

Manny used a bit of both crab and worm as he threw his a little further out.

Tucker Young caught himself a decent plaice

Pretty soon they were all getting bites as the tide whipped in.’

John got another codling, then so did Manny.’

Mattheed said nothing as he brought in a codling that was about two pounds in weight.’

“Hooray said Manny; Mattheed’s caught one at last.’

It was Manny who got the biggest fish of the day with a cocktail of mackerel, crab, and worm.

It was about five pounds in weight and it made the other fish look small. He quickly gutted it and placed it into the carrier bag that he had brought.

John gutted the fish Ralph and he had caught as Tucker Young gutted his plaice.’

They all brought their lines in then they were neatly rolled up and put away for another day. They walked back along the quayside back to their Uncles store and showed him what they had all caught.

Do you want me to fillet them for you?

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