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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Thank you for coming today said Iris as she hugged the two boys.’

What are you doing for dinner today Mrs Armstrong?’

“I didn’t bother making one; you know with being on my own an aal.’

“Well you are not going to be on your own; please come over to my house and have dinner with us.’

Our Agnes is away and there’s a spare place.’

“I couldn’t impose on you and your family Ralph thank you anyway.’

“I won’t hear of it; look at how many meals I’ve eaten at your house; come on sort your self out and come over.’

“I will go tell my mam we have a guest for dinner.’

Ralph ran over the road and straight into the passage.

“Mam; I’ve invited Mrs Armstrong to join us for Christmas dinner.’

“Ralph Mason you have surely been sent from God; I was about to ask her myself.’

Jack Mason looked at his pocket watch he finished his pint then made for the door.

He knew that his wife would be putting his dinner out at two o’clock. That gave him fifteen minutes to get home.’

He doffed his cap and said Merry Christmas to every one that he passed on his way home.

 When he entered the house the smell of good food hit his nostrils. He walked into the scullery after taking off his coat and hat and the scarf that the boys had bought.

“My Hannah that looks bloody gorgeous.’ “Go and change Jack said Hannah. We have a guest coming to dinner and I don’t want her to think she’s out of place here.

Alright said Jack; who coming?

“Its Iris Armstrong she’s on her own today. Ralph has been with her to the cemetery today. It has only been three months since she lost her son; she will be needing some company I’m sure, so make her feel welcome.’

Ralph, John come and help me set the table; wash your hands first though.’

Jack went to his room and took off his best suit and put on his normal clothes that he wore when he was not working. He kept the clean shirt on and then put on his slippers that were under the bed.

“When Jack came out of the room he heard a soft knock at the door.’

Walking down the passage he opened the door and there stood Iris. She had changed her skirt from the black one to a brown and was wearing a tanned coloured coat instead of her black one. She had a scarf around her head as the snow had begun to fall. “Come in Iris Merry Christmas.’

“I hope that you don’t mind me coming over like this Jack.’

Please give me your coat and scarf and I will hang them up for you.

Come in don’t be shy; you are more than welcome to share our humble dinner with us.’

Iris walked into the scullery and Hannah embraced her then said Merry Christmas.

“Please take a seat at our table.’ “Jack don’t stand there pull a seat out for her.’

Jack quickly moved forward and pulled out the chair then placed a cushion that he normally sat on onto the chair. “There now Iris, make yourself at home.’

The carving knife was taken out into the yard to be sharpened and then wiped clean.

Hannah placed the turkey at the table near her husband so that he could carve it.’

Please would you stand so we can say grace?’

Iris stood up.’

“Thank you dear Lord for this food that we are about to eat and thank you Lord for bringing Iris into our humble home this day. May you give her peace and comfort; Amen.’

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