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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How about I make you sausage egg and some chips with some homemade bread and some tomato sauce.’ “I will see you tomorrow then Ralphie.’

“Not if I see you first ugly.’

“Ralph put his chair back then said goodbye to his friend as he followed the rest out of the ward.

Ralph walked back the way he had come then went into the house.’

Mam I’m back; has anyone called for me?’

Sit down son there’s something I have to tell you.’

“What’s wrong said Ralph as he took a seat in the scullery.’

Tommy Armstrong’s mam has just been over.’

“What’s up has he been messing about again.’

“He’s dead Ralph; he was killed by a lorry this afternoon.’

“How mam; he cannot be said Ralph; the tears were flowing down his face as his mother told him that he had gone on the swing on his own and that he didn’t see the lorry that was coming down the bank at it hit him full on. “ He was killed instantly son.’

Ralph got up and ran to his room and lay on his bed with his head in the pillow crying.’

“His mother let him cry and he cried so much that he went to sleep.’

It was dark when he awoke he couldn’t believe that he’d lost his best friend.’

Ralph walked slowly into the scullery and sat on the chair.

“Are you all right now son asked his mother,’

“Do you see now why we always ask you to be careful when you go out to play?’

“Ralph nodded.’

“Can I go over and see his mam asked Ralph.’

“I don’t think she might be up to taking visitors Ralph but you could try.’

Go and wash you’re eyes first and comb that hair.

Ralph went to the sink and washed his face then put a little Brylcreem on his hair then combed it into place.’

“Do you want me to come with you Ralph?’

 “No mam I will go over myself.’

“Alright then son.’

“Ralph walked over the road then knocked on the door.’

“There was a sound of footsteps coming down the passage and then the door opened.

“Hello Mrs Armstrong, I came to see if you were alright.’

Iris Armstrong looked down at Ralph who was close to tears again and asked him to come in.

“She hugged the boy as they both cried together.’

Then she told him to sit as she made them both a cup of tea.’

“I bet you haven’t eaten a thing sing you found out have you Ralphie.’

Ralph shook his head.

Right then we will have to put that right won’t we?’


“Only if you will have some with me said Ralph.’

“Alright you can help me by getting the cup and plates out whilst I peel some potatoes.’


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