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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“Right then I will see you all tomorrow said Ralph as he and his brother walked back to their house and the others crossed the road.’

“Here John, take ours home will yer and I will be with you in a minute.’

He walked to number 17 and knocked on the door.’

It was Bobby who answered and as soon as the door opened the smell of fish and chips hit his nostrils and he began to salivate as he’d eaten nothing all day.

“Here Mr Cottingham gave me these for yer mam.’ There hot mind they’ve just come out the fryer.’

“Thanks’ Ralphie said Bobby as he took the parcel.’

“If it’s fine tomorrow we are all going down to the boating lake in Tynemouth if yer want to come wi us.’

“Aye,’ I still got me fishin’ net in the shed.’

“Good lad, diven’t forget that big beetroot jar mind.’

“I won’t; what time you all meetin’ up?

“Twelve o’clock in Northumberland Square but you can just come over to mine and you can walk along wi us.’

“Right then I’ll see you tomorrow then and thanks’ for dropping in these for us.’

“Diven’t thank me; thank Mr Cottingham.’

Bobby closed the door then hurried into the scullery where his mother was sitting down smoking a dumper.’

“Look what Mr Cottingham has sent us again.’

Florie smiled then opened the parcels and shared out the feast.

“Have we got any piccalilli Hannah asked Jack as she shared out the fish and chips?’

There’s some at the back of the larder Jack.’

They all sat down with a fork from the drawer as Jack removed the lid from the home made piccalilli jar and placed some onto his packet. Their mother had given the two boys two of the fish and double chips knowing that they would eat the lot.

“Whey this is lovely lads’ you cannot beat a piece of freshly caught cod.

John and Ralph watched as their father devoured his fish supper with gusto.’

It was amazing how a simple meal made all the difference to a family. Fish and chips were one of the cheapest staple foods around and just about everyone loved eating it.

There were around sixteen fish and chip shops in North Shields and every one of them did a roaring trade with the locals.’

Ralph had to blow on his chips because they were piping hot. He cut himself a slice of bread then made a chip butty he smothered it in tomato sauce then bit off the end.

John quickly followed suit.

“Sea air certainly gives you an appetite doesn’t it.’

“You can say that again said his father as he looked on at his two boys.’

“When the supper was eaten both John and his brother went to their rooms and lay on the bed.

Ralph took out the gardening magazines and began to read them as John picked up his Eagle annual and began to read a Dan Dare story.’

“Where did you get the magazines Ralph?’

“From the hospital waiting room; they were just lying there so I picked them up. I will get some more when I go tomorrow. They have a month by month section on jobs to do in the garden so I will collect the lot then I will know what and when to plant stuff.’

“But we haven’t got a garden kidda.’

“I know that, it’s for when I get my own garden when I grow up.’

“You’ll be lucky to get a house wi a garden.’

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