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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By the middle of June 1949 Margaret Cummings was nearly full term in her pregnancy she was finding it hard to get around and her back was killing her still.

Luckily for her that her waters broke whilst she was in the toilet and she came out and told her aunt. Instead of calling the ambulance her Aunt Sarah placed an old sack on the seat of the car and drove her to the hospital.

Margaret was in labour for eleven hours before giving birth to a son who was born weighing eight pounds and four ounces.’

“What are you going to call the child said Sheila Bryson the midwife as she handed her son over to her mother.’

“Brian, George Harman.’

Is that the name of the father?’

“Brian is yes, George is my father’s name.’

“That’s really nice Margaret.’

“Now we will have to keep you in a few days to make sure everything is alright with you and the little one; then I think you can go back home.’

Have you got a pen and some writing paper that I could borrow please?’

“Would you like an envelope as well?’

“Yes please.’

“Look Margaret once you’ve written it out; I will come and collect it at the end of my shift and post it for you how’s that.’

“That is so kind of you Sheila said Margaret.’

“No trouble at all.’

In one way Margaret was relieved that the baby was born but in another it was a tinge of sadness as she had liked staying with her Aunt Sarah and they had become very close. Even though she was a straight laced no nonsense woman.’

When Sarah was allowed in she looked at the child and smiled; he’s the double of your mother she said.’ What have you called him?’

“Brian, George Harman.’

“Your father will be pleased.’ “How are you feeling?’

“A little tired Aunt Sarah.’

“I’m not surprised; eleven hours in labour you poor girl.’ I hope that man of yours appreciates what you have gone through for him.’

“I’m sure he will Aunt.’

“I will let you get some rest then Margaret; I will pop in tomorrow afternoon to see you both and I will phone your mother once I get home.’

Thanks’ aunt Sarah.’

“Bye for now, she knelt over the crib and took hold of the babies little hand then placed some silver into it before leaving it at the bottom of his crib.

“For luck she said as she left the ward.’

Margaret gave her a wave as she turned to walk out. She then sat up and set about writing to Brian to tell him that he was now the father of a little boy.’

Brian always wanted a son he’d said and now he had one.’

“She just hoped that Brian hadn’t abandoned her and that she wouldn’t be left to bring up the child on her own.


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