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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“Ye Holy Angel’s bright rang out from the Trinity Methodist Church that was always full on a Sunday morning. Both Ralph and John were both in the choir and stood at the front with Tony Santos and Manny Nicholson.

“When the hymn was sung Ralph whispered to his friends to ask if they were going to the park after church.

“What’s gannin’ on like said Tony.’

“Nowt really I thought we could go along and play on the rides and get a few chases off old Ned the parkie.

“He chased me on his push bike the last time after I took a short cut to the toilets across the bowling green wi me boots on.’ “I came out of those toilets and was making my way across again when he saw me and gave chase. Good job I had already been to the bog cos’ I would have crapped myself.’

“We can outrun that parkie any day of the week.’

“Whey we na that but if he calls the coppers on us we will be in trouble.’

“The coppers aren’t ganna bother wi us not on a Sunday.’ They’ll be tucking into Sunday roast.’

Ralph was about to say something when he saw the look of disgust from his father as the minister Alan Bell talked about malaria and starvation in Africa and how a child was dying every thirty seconds. He talked about being charitable to those less fortunate and to love our neighbours. When he was finished speaking the minister declared that another 30 children had died of the disease.

This shocked the congregation and the alter boys went around with the offerty plate whilst it was still in their minds. Of course everyone gave what they could spare.

The minister called for everyone to pray for the people of Africa. They all stood with heads bowed and in silence for a few minutes. Then he asked them to say the Lords prayer.

They sang Guide Me Oh Thy Great Redeemer;’ before filing out of the church.’

Ralph, Tony, and Manny did their duties before going into the vestry and changing.

Ralph waited until his father had finish talking to the minister before he asked his mother if they could go home to change.

“Where are you going son asked his mother?

“We are going to the park to play mam.’

“Alright, then but no mischief do you hear me. John you go with them to keep an eye on them. “Mam I was going down to my mate Bobby Willis house.’

Alright but no trouble do you hear me?

“Yes mam.’

Both John and Ralph ran home to number 9 Collingwood Terrace. Pulling the key through the letterbox John opened the door and they both went straight to their rooms fold their clothes and changed into their playing out clothes. Ralph sat on the bed untying his boots then stuck them underneath he took out his black plimsolls and put them on he had a pair of Khaki coloured shorts on made from a pair of Army pants, a white tee shirt and a brown tank Top with a cream coloured pattern on it.

“Right John I’m off.’

“Don’t forget what mam said or dad will belt you when you come in.’

“I won’t.’

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