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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“A football match?’ oh dump him dear; football always comes first with men like him.

“He’s a sports journalist; his father owns a newspaper.’

“Keep him then said Bridgett.’

“We are going out to dinner after the game.’

“Lucky you; seems as though you’ve hit the jackpot there Agnes.’

“We’ve talked non stop from Newcastle he’s quite a gentleman.’

“Let me know if you dump him said Doris Baxter; I’ll take him off your hands.’

“I bet he’s never had a real woman before.’

“He’s not likely to with you either said Bridgett.’

“So what’s his name then asked two others who were now interested.’

“They call him Norman.’

“I bet you’ll be dreaming about him all night.’

“Don’t be silly we just met; I mean I hardly know the man.’

“Look girls she’s going red; she’s definitely smitten.’

The truth was she did like him; a lot more than she was letting on to the others.

The truck turned off onto the motorway and carried on for 73 miles before they saw the signpost for Molesworth it took them almost another two hours before reaching the base. They were met by group captain James Robert Norton. Who they all saluted; they stood to attention then they were told where to report.

Agnes quickly went to her billet and squared away her case before reporting to Air Marshall Simon Matthew Ellis.

“Right Mason follow me.’

Agnes double marched as she was led into a room with a telephone and a typewriter.

“Have you been trained to type Mason?

“Yes sir.’

Good show; you are to be flight lieutenant Samuel J Lawton’s new secretary.’

You will start tomorrow morning at eight o’clock sharp understood.’

“Yes sir.’

“That will be all; dismissed.’

Agnes tuned sharply and saluted then marched off to her billet.

She hung up her uniform then grabbed a towel and headed for the showers. She liked the fact that she could take a shower twice a day and use and inside loo. It was far better than a tin bath. Agnes swore if she ever got married she would have a shower and inside toilet fitted straight away.

She turned on the hot tap and instantly the water came out. Agnes undressed and stood under the water allowing the hot water to caress her body. People didn’t realise what a luxury of having a shower she could have stayed under it for hours but quickly washed herself and shampooed her hair. She wrapped a towel around her head then another around herself. Then she put on her issue pyjamas took out her ironing board

And a steam iron; not a flat one that you had to heat up on the gas and plugged it in and ironed her clean shirt for tomorrow. She checked every crease to make sure that it was correct before hanging it up in her wardrobe. There were about twelve bunks in the billet that all the girls shared. Some of them she knew as they came in from finishing their duties and removed their uniforms and went to the showers just as she had. The girls were trained to take at least one shower daily. God help anyone who had a sweat problem as they were ceremoniously taken to the shower and made to scrub every inch of their body in front of the female group leader –Helen Mclintock who was a stickler for neatness. Every piece of kit had to be clean and folded away in the correct order that they were all given to do shown on a sheet of paper on arrival. 

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