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.


73. 73

There was a note of sadness in her father’s voice and Agnes felt it. She felt guilty not being with her own family but she would make it up to them on Friday.

The vegetables had all been prepped and the turkey was now cooking away. Jack got himself shaved then put on his best suit and new cap then went to the club.’

Jack had done as his late father had it was tradition to allow the wives to get on with the cooking and let the kids play with their toys.

As he walked up the street there were children out on bicycles and tricycles riding up and down the street. Most were just second hand or made up from scrap of other bikes but to these kids playing on them they were as good as any new one.

Ralph got ready and then went across to see his friend Terry Lane The crisp cold air was good to breathe as the stink from the skin shop had ceased. He crossed the road then knocked on the door Terry answered but had now no crutches.

“Terry where’s your crutches.’

“They’ve been taken back Ralph I don’t need them anymore.’

“Does this mean that you can come out and play with us?’

“Aye it does but I’m not climbing on any more roofs do you hear.’

“Oh Terry, that’s great.’

“Here this is for you.’

“What is it?’

“Well open it you idiot and you’ll see.’

“Ralph had saved up all his pocket money and bought him a leather bound book.

“The works of Jules Verne; Oh Ralph thank you; but I haven’t got you a present.

“It doesn’t matter as long as you are happy.’

“Look inside I wrote something.’

Terry opened the cover and inside in Ralph’s neatest writing he had written: To Terry Lane Merry Christmas from your friend Ralph Mason 1948.

Terry smiled then asked him to come in.’

Ralph had brought a card to give his parents and he wished them a merry Christmas.

“Look mam look what Ralphie bought me.’

“That was very thoughtful of you Ralph but you shouldn’t have as he has not bought you anything.’

“Christmas is about giving Mrs Lane not receiving.

’I was wondering if you would allow Terry to come out with me as there is somewhere that I would like to go.’

“Well, as long as it isn’t far.’

“We can get the bus Mrs Lane.’

“Alright but where are you going?’

“I’m going to the cemetery to put a wreath on Tommy Armstrong’s grave.’

“Of course Ralph, you take Terry with you.’

“Go put your coat on, and put on your new hat, scarf, and gloves as well we don’t want you coming down with something.’

Ralph waited until Terry was ready then they both walked back over to his house.

“Mam have you got the wreath I’m going now.’

Have you got your hat, scarf, and gloves on? Its freezing out there and it will be even colder in the cemetery.’

“Yes mam I’ve got them on.’

Ralph’s mother brought the holly wreath which Ralph had written a card on behalf of all his of his friends.


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