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 have made a list of the chores that I expect you to do whilst you are here.’

Don’t think that you have come here for a holiday.’

Yes aunt’ I didn’t expect to just come here and do nothing.’

There is also the garden you will take care of when I’m out.’

The winter is coming and there is a lot to do before then in both the green house and the garden.’

They drove through the small village past the local church. There were some small shops and one local pub called the Plough.’ There weren’t many residents Margaret thought. They drove for half a mile through the winding road with farmland on both sides then she saw it. It was just like her mother had described it. Sarah drove into the drive way and parked the car. Margaret got out and got her case as her aunt opened the door. Inside it was a lot bigger than she expected but the ceilings were all wooden beams and a lot lower than her own house.

The house was heated by a wood burning stove and there was a wash room outside and a toilet and bath inside. The kitchen was bigger than her mothers and there was a large cooking stove which heated the water.

“You will be able to take a bath whenever you like as the water is always hot.’

All the vegetables are grown in my garden and you will help me cultivate it.’

I grow all my flowers from seed that I take from the dead flowers or raise from shoots.’

You will learn an awful lot about how to keep a garden also how to make the garden work for you.’

“I hope that you are not sickly because I have over a ton of horse manure being delivered tomorrow morning; this has to be spread on the land

and then dug in.’ “I have winter crops that need to be dug up and stored or pickled.’ Don’t worry you won’t get bored here as there is always something to do.

“We pick our own fruit which I make jam and sell which in turn pays for the meat and poultry that I buy.’

“You won’t starve here I assure you; I bake my own bread every day and make scones and tarts and meat pies.’

“Her aunt looked a lot younger than her forty two years. Maybe it was the country air or all the fresh vegetables but she had a lovely complexion.

Sarah led her to her room which was a fair size. Inside there was a double bed a small mat on the floor, a crucifix above the bed. There was a chest of drawers made from oak and a little chair to sit on. In the far corner of the room was a wardrobe again made of oak it had two drawers in the bottom, where she could place all of her baby clothes. The window looked out onto the garden which was a nice view because further on there was farmland and hedgerows.

“She opened her case and began to unpack her clothes.’

“When you are finished here there is a boiler suit that was my husbands that you can wear.’ “Looking at your feet you are a size seven is that right?’

“Yes I am; why?’

“It’s because my husband’s wellingtons will fit you.’ Bring your shoes to the back door then put on the boiler suit then put on the wellingtons. We do not come into the house with dirty shoes.

“Yes Aunt.’

“We have no time to lose so be quick about it Margaret.’

Margaret hurried as she placed her coat into the wardrobe and all the baby things in the bottom draws in the wardrobe. She hadn’t much in the way of clothes for herself as they were all too small now.

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