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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Agnes was wearing a blue skirt three inches above the knee and a white blouse. She had higher heels than her air force uniform issue which made her look just a shade under six feet tall.

Norman watched her as she spoke and her smile was intoxicating as she told him all about her new boss and the work she had done.’

“What about you then what have you been up to.’

“Well I travelled to Wiltshire to interview horse trainer Noel Murless about Reginald Macdonald Buchanan’s horse Albernant.’ He’s had fourteen wins from seventeen races.

Pretty impressive said Agnes as the soup bowls were removed and their dinner brought.

“Is she a mare?’

“No, he’s a stallion from the son of the Triple Crown winner Owen Tudor and Rustom Mahal. He’s a grey and a formidable sprinter over 3 furlongs.’

“Noel let me ride him whilst I was there and my God he is quick I can tell you.’

“I didn’t know that you could ride.’

“I had a pony when a was about six years old he was called Nobbins’

“You know when they throw money into a boxing ring after a good fight well that’s called a nobbin’s fight.

“A good name for him;

“Yes we had him seventeen years before he was put to sleep.’

“What happened?’

“He got a fever then slowly his health deteriorated.’

“He would have been a great loss to you?’

Yes, he was, he was like part of the family almost.’ He understood me better than anyone. He sensed when I was happy and again when I was sad. He was almost human I used to say.’ “He had this funny kind of sound that he made with his tongue and when he whinnied you knew he wanted something. I used to bring him an apple to eat. I kept it hidden in my pocket and he would nose me until I gave it to him.’

“Going to Wiltshire brought so many memories flooding back.’

“Do you not keep any horses now?’

“No after Nobbin’s died I lost interest in horses completely and shut myself away.’

“I know this might sound silly but I had a pet dog like that; her name was Sally and she was a little Jack Russell terrier.

She would follow me to school and be waiting for me when I came out again.’

“I was only four years old when we got her. A friend of my dads from the ship yard gave her to me as a pup; she was so small.’

“We had her twelve years and then her back legs started going and at the finish she couldn’t get out at all and would cry after me. When I started work in the factory she would try and get up but couldn’t. I came home from work one night and she wasn’t there by the fire where she loved to lie on her rug.’

“What happened to her?’

“Mam said that she had a seizure that afternoon and died soon after.’

“I buried her in Scot’s Park near to where I live. There is a little wooden cross with a brass plate with her name on it to mark where she now lies.’

They were not disappointed by the meal that they had but Agnes had no room left for dessert. She sat feeling that she’d over eaten but had enjoyed every morsel.’

Thank you Norman that was delicious.’

“Well the night is but young; do you fancy going to the picture house with me?’

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