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.


62. 62

As far as the priest was concerned she was working on a farm near the stately home; looking after the poultry and the other animals. She would ask her aunt about running a farm and looking after pigs and milking cows tomorrow.

She had written about four pages then placed the letter into the envelope and then put it into the case; Margaret would write to Brian tomorrow when he had more to write about. for now she had to rest, she wasn’t looking forward to being woken by Hector the bloody rooster at the crack of dawn she thought as she blew out the candle and closed her eyes.



“Come you lot, find a seat, and settle down.’

Mr Scarrow the teacher of Western board junior school began to write the date and the lesson for that morning.

Today was an English lesson and Mr Scarrow was explaining the difference between there, their, and they’re. He wrote a few examples missing out the verb, adverb, and pronoun the pupils had to copy the text and then put in the right word. It had a lot of the boys confused especially the there and their words.

Ralph did alright with it because with reading a lot of comics he was able to remember the difference.

The bell went for the break and the gills of milk were given out and the boys put a straw into the bottles and drank them. Ralph hoped there would be spares as he was the milk monitor and he usually took the bottles home for his mother.

After the break they learned about why certain trees lost their leaves whilst others didn’t. Mr Scarrow brought in examples from various types of leaves and berries and nuts.’

They all recognised the Chestnuts as they made conkers with them after steeping them in vinegar to make the skins harder so they would last longer in the playground when everyone wanted a go at trying to beat the champion.

Ralph had a twenty eight conker.’ It was huge and his father had pickled it for three months before it had been left out to dry on the window. Then it was drilled carefully and string threaded through and a knot was tied in the bottom. You challenged your friends with your conker and they held it out and you had to hit your opponent’s conker until you missed. Then they had a go at breaking it.

The girls were skipping up at the top end of the yard or were playing with folded paper puzzles that your fingers fitted underneath and you opened and close them and counted out a number then a colour. Most boys chose the colour red so the girls made sure that the word spotty or ugly was inside the flap when it was finally opened.’

The shops were starting to sell balloons for Christmas but the boys found a better game to play. They filled them with water and they would throw them at unsuspecting girls. They burst soaking them with water. Then there was the pea shooter which was fired at a great distance away. It dealt a stinging blow to ears or someone’s bum as they were bending down.

Other kids threaded elastic bands together to make a catapult which was tied around thumb and index finger.

Pieces of stiff card were made into pellets and fired at people around the yard as they played Japs and commandos.

When it was time to line up outside the dining hall the teacher on yard duty who usually had a mug of coffee in her hand as she walked around the yard blew a whistle and everyone walked single file to the dining hall. Since the introduction of free 

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