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.


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lighting and for coal. Now she had to go to the butcher to scrounge some scraps of cheap meat in which to make some broth and mince and dumplings.

Alec Dale had given her a leek and some onions from his leek show she was going to ask the butcher for some muslin to make a leek and onion pudding.’

Micky Brown had the best butcher shop on Bedford Street he prided himself on his quality cuts.’ They were all neatly placed on display as Cissie walked in.

“Good morning Cissie what can I get you; we have some lovely pork and beef sausage, and some nice stewing chops. Or we have some chump pork chops that you might like. Cissie looked a Micky then said “didn’t you hear Michael; I was evicted for not paying my rent.’

Christ Cissie I’m sorry pet, I didn’t know.’

I owed nearly six weeks rent and I couldn’t pay due to wor Robbie being killed an aal.’

Yes’ I heard about that.’

“Well the bailiffs came and hoyed me on the street wi me two bairn’s.’

“Where are you stayin’ then?’

I’m livin’ wi Dolly Ruby Alice over the road.’

“Well at least you have a roof over your head.’

Aye for the minute but just wait until somebody shops us to the NAB.’

“Look Cissie I’d like to help you but I’m running a business here.’

“I haven’t come lookin’ for charity Michael; I just need some cheap meat,’

“I need some mince, kidney, cow’s heart, liver, trotters and bacon bones that I can make some soup with and anything else you can give me cheap.’

Mickey went into the back and came back with a large bag. “Now look Cissie this meat should be thrown out but it’s still all right to use if you cook it all today. There’s sausage, liver, lap, chops, trotters and other bits and pieces. You can have them but for God sake cook it today or you will get me in big trouble.’

 “Thanks’ Michael; have you got a bit of muslin so I can make a leek and onion pudding?’

“Aye, and how big is the pudding you’re making?”

“It’s going to be big as I got a leek from the show off Alec Dale and some big onions.

“Right I will make a deal with you Cissie but diven’t you be telling wor Margaret cos’ I’m meant to be on a diet.’ “Make me a nice leek and onion pudding and I’ll give you a couple pounds of steak and kidney to make a pie with.’

“Your on Michael; I’ll bring it around tomorrow for you.’

“Lovely; I can’t wait. “ Now this will keep for a good few days said Mick as he weighed two pounds of steak and kidney.’

Cissie left the shop and walked home with fifteen pounds of meat in two carrier bags.’

She got in as Dolly was pouring a cup of tea and nearly lost her eyes when she saw all the food. Where did you get that lot?’

Cissie tapped the end of her nose and then said that apart from the steak and kidney here everything else has got to be cooked today and I’ve got to make two big leek and onion puddings as well.

Let’s have a cup of tea first then I will put my pinnie on and we will get cracking with all of this food. If we make enough broth with the bacon bones, lap, and trotters it will last three days. “Dolly we can use the chops, liver, and other stuff tonight. The steak and kidney will keep until Friday when we can make some plate pies. That’s the week’s food sorted.’

Cissie stood by the scullery door and was about to hang up her handbag when she remembered the letter from the postman.

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