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.


5. 5

“Come on own up; one of you has been in my yard.’

Upon hearing the shouting in the lane several of the children’s mothers came out as she had hold of Mattheed and was shaking him by his shoulders.

“Hey fat arse leave that bairn alone.’

“Who are you calling fat said Mrs Jennings; whose face had now gone even redder than it was before?’ She adjusted her polka dot pinnie and the head square on her head.

“Well there’s only one fat cow I see in this lane; do you see anyone else said Dolly Walker to her neighbour Margaret Sanders.’

“You’re not wrong on that one Dolly.’

“Foul uncouth people said Emily as she stuck up her nose and waddled back to her back door then pushed the bolt firmly in place. Once safe behind the door she shouted out. “If that ball comes over here again you won’t get it back I can tell you.’

Dolly Walker walked back with her friend Margaret who asked her in for a cup of tea.

The game of cricket continued and by four o’clock Ralph Mason was still in bat but would not declare.’

“Come on Ralphie shouted Manny we won’t get a turn in bat if you don’t declare.’

Alright but tomorrow I’m in first; is that understood.’

Ralph handed the bat over to his friend then took up a fielding position with Alan Fairlamb. “You have a hard target to beat ninety seven runs not out.’

“Easy as pie that man.’

John Kimber ran up with his first bowl the ball bounced then Manny welted it right over the wall of the Skin Shop which was half way down the lane.’

“Look where it’s gone said Tucker Young.’

Manny go and get it; you knocked it over there.’

Yes, but what about all those dead animals in there.’

“You should have thought of that before you wellied the ball over the wall then shouldn’t you.’

Some of the girls were getting bored now and resumed doing hand stands as Jan bounced one ball off the wall and began to catch it one handed. The lads on the other hand followed Manny down the lane towards the Skin Shop.’

“What about the ghosts of all the dead animals in there said John Kimber?’

“Shut up will yer or Manny will be too scared to climb over.’

“Are there really ghosts of dead beasts in there?’

I don’t know but here look through the crack in the door.’

“Everyone took a look and on the path was scattered various animal parts and guts.’

The lads were almost sick as they looked on through the two blood red doors with sharp spikes. They gave Manny Nicholson a bunk up who was now reluctant to go inside after hearing them all talk about dead animals and ghosts.’

He raised himself up to his full height and looked over inside the Skin Shop. It looked really old with rusted old machines in one corner there several low level tanks with a perforated steel drum inside. That was where the offal went into after being soaked in an acid bath to kill bacteria. Once filled with the animal parts steam was applied and the drums went around at high speed. All the fat had been cut from the intestines and it lay on the dirty ground. The other bits of unwanted parts got filtered through the holes and went into the tank. There was two large sheds in the yard with a corrugated iron roof there was another on the opposite wall. They could have been used for slaughtering pigs or sheep. There was dried blood all over the place which pointed it out that animals were slaughtered here.

Manny jumped down from the wall into the yard and began the search for the ball.

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