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.


54. 54

On the day of the funeral the whole street and all of Tommy’s school friends showed up. Even Mr Kershaw and Alan Shell the headmaster were there.

Alan Bell the minister of Trinity Church led the service. As they all said goodbye to a boy who had been a good friend to them all.

 Ralph Mason dropped a catapult, some cars, and some comics into the grave.

“There you are Tommy now you won’t be lonely. I will never forget you my friend; no matter where I am in the world I will remember you always.’

Ralphs mother and father and John walked away from the grave side as the grave diggers waited until everyone had gone before the grave was filled in.




Margaret Cummings said goodbye to her mother as she took the bus from Northumberland Square to the Haymarket in Newcastle. She placed the brown case in the recess at the front of the bus and took her seat. The conductor asked if she was going on holiday to which she replied yes I’m going to stay with my aunt in Morpeth.

“It’s very nice there you will love it.’

“Will I,’ said Margaret; I’ve never been before.’

It’s way out into the countryside; with plenty of farmland and fresh air.’

Margaret paid the penny fare then sat back. The coat that she was wearing that belonged to her mother covered her embarrassment as the bus sped away.’

Her mother waved and she waved back.

No she could disappear and no one would know about her baby except Brian who couldn’t come he said that he was working.

She had given him His Aunts phone number and he said that he would ring her later that evening. Once she had got into Newcastle where the traffic was a lot busier than North Shields she made her way across the road where her mother had told her that the bus to Morpeth would come at one fifteen. She looked over at the clock on the church that told her she had only five minutes to wait. At least it wasn’t raining she thought as she stood on her own with the suitcase nearby.

The yellow and white bus arrived and she was helped by the conductor to put her case away.

The bus then pulled away as the statue of Eros faded into the distance.

The conductor who told her that the place was nice was right as all she could see for miles was farmland. The odd cottage by the roadside, bed and breakfast accommodation with the local pubs passed as the got to Wide open. She looked on as cows grazed in the open fields and oak trees and hedgerows stretched for miles.

By quarter to two the bus had passed Bedlington and it was now just a short way to Stannington. There was only herself and an elderly Gentleman on the bus as it stopped in Stannington. The conductor again helped her with her case as she got off.

Her aunt Sarah was waiting in a black ford card as Margaret walked up with the case.

“Put that case on the back seat dear said her aunt.’

Hello Aunt Sarah said Margaret.’

“Well young lady you have landed your mother in an awful predicament haven’t you.’ but never the less we will have to deal with it.’

“You will not venture out of the cottage unless I am with you.’ I will also take you in the car when I take you to see the doctor.’

“I have many social friends in Beechlea who I will be visiting so you will have to keep yourself amused I’m afraid. There is an extensive library of books to read so that will keep you occupied.

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