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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“I know that Sarah; this is why I’m asking you for help.’ She is far too gone to do anything about it now so I was wondering if she could come and stay with you until the baby is born.’

Alright Jane but she will have to pull her weight around here baby or no baby.’

“Tell her to come at the weekend. She will have to get a bus from the Haymarket and I will meet her at the bus stop and bring her to my house in Stannington.’

“Thank you Sarah; I appreciate this.

“Is the father of the child standing by her?’

 “Yes but he is only sixteen himself.’

“Bloody kids have no brains these days; I just hope that he doesn’t abandon her at a time like this or she will be left to bring up that baby on her own.’

“He is coming around tonight after I tell George.’

“So George doesn’t know?’

Not yet, I’m going to tell him when he comes home.’

“Where is he?’

“He’s in the Ballarat.’

“Is he not at work?’

“No Jane he’s on holiday.’

“I wouldn’t tell him when he’s full of drink.’

“He’s not a violent drunk Sarah; he gets melancholy when he’s been drinking.’

“Good luck with that then.’ look I have to go; tell Margaret I will be waiting in the bus stop at two o’clock on Saturday.’

“Thank you Sarah, I will come and see you soon.’

“Bye Jane.’

“Bye.’

Jane hung up then closed the door of the red phone box.

She walked back along to her house.’

She was lucky in that her sister now lived alone in a cottage. Her husband was killed during the Second World War in the African dessert. Michael Harding was a tank driver. His tank was hit by a German Panzer patrol with a bazooka killing four men. Sarah received a widow’s pension which was enough for her to live on. She worked part time in a women’s clothing outlet which helped her live the lifestyle that she had been accustomed to.

She owned the cottage outright and there was enough land at the back of the house where she grew all the vegetables. There was also a green house and two sheds.

At the back of the cottage was a wooden conservatory where Sarah liked to sit in the summer months.

Jane let herself in with the key to find Margaret making a pot of tea.’

“Well it’s all sorted; you will take the bus to the Haymarket in Newcastle on Saturday and from there take the bus to Stannington where your Aunt Sarah will be waiting to take you to the cottage.” Don’t expect your Aunt to do you any favours. You will have to work your keep there.’

“I wasn’t expecting a holiday said Margaret.’

“Brian is popping in after work he says.’

Looking at the clock on the mantelpiece it was ten minutes to three and Margaret’s heart began to beat faster knowing that her father would be home soon.

She could not settle and was pacing about in the living room. She kept on watching the clock wishing she could have turned back time. A time when Brian and her had slept together where they had unprotected sex for the very first time. Brian said that she would be alright because virgins didn’t get pregnant. If virgins didn’t get pregnant 

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