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.


66. 66

Ann and Jan averted their eyes so they couldn’t see the guts and other animal parts scattered on the ground.

The old lady returned with Pat Chan carrying the hot water.

The girls thanked the old lady then grabbed the handles and began to walk up the lane again to the house.

The hot water saved them from using coal to do washing. They could do shirts and other clothes and fill a kettle for tea as well.

They had to be careful though because the water was very hot and it would scald you if it spilled onto your legs. Every few yards they set the pan down to have a rest.

It took them a good ten minutes to walk back to the yard where she lived.

Gail Johnson and Allie Walker came over with Marlene Rogerson, Liz West, Liz Churnside, Ann Crosby, and Susan Sunigar.

 “Do you want to go around to see if the boys are playing out; we are bored.

 Alright; grab a tin from the bin and we’ll have a game of “tin a block” wi them if they are outside.’

Liz West picked out a Heinz beans tin then asked Ann’s mother to rinse it out so that it was clean when they banged it off the ground.

Once that was done they all wondered onto the front of Howdon Road The label had come off the tin and the aluminium can shone as Liz held it in her hand. They crossed the road as old Mr Stagg rode past on his cart the brown and white horse looked more like a pony than a horse it was small and it looked like it was dying on its feet.

“Poor horse having to pull that cart around aal day long said Jan. “Not much of a life is it. That horse should be running around in some field not strapped to that fat man’s cart.’

They turned the corner of Trinity Street and made their way to Collingwood Terrace.’

Ralphie Mason was helping his Mother with some shopping as the girls approached.

“Hi Ralphie is you and John coming out for a game of “tin a block”

“I don’t know; why don’t you ask him yersel.’

“Ralph took the sack of potatoes into the house then told John that his girl friend was at the door.’

Girl friend; I haven’t got a girlfriend.

“You do now; she’s called Jan Nicholson.’

John walked coolly up to the front door and stood with his arms folded.

“Hi John, said Jan looking out at John with cow eyes.’

“What do yer want?’

“We were all wonderin’ if you and Ralphie were coming out for a game like.’

“I don’t think so; we are all going down to the wreck later in China town.’

“Where’s the wreck?’

“It’s that old house at the top of the bank.’

“Isn’t it dangerous; we heard that it’s on the point of collapse?

 “Don’t be daft it stood for over seventy years.’

“Yes,’ but all the floorboards are missing and part of the roof has fallen in according to my dad.’

“We like to make camps in there.’

“What time are you going down there?’

“We are just waiting for the others to turn up.

“Can we wait with you then?’

“It’s a free country, nowt stopping you.’

The girls started a game in the street whilst they waited.

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