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.


9. 9

Ralph was off down the passage and running up the street to the main road. He crossed the road and the smell of beer from the pubs hit his nostrils as he turned left up Borough Road past the Green bus stop; he kept running until he turned towards the Neville and then onto Railway Terrace.


He found a gap in the shrubbery and climbed in. it led him straight to the witches hat where his friend Terry lane was swinging like a monkey from bar to bar before spotting Ralph and stood on the rail.

“Where is everyone asked Ralph?’

“It looks like they haven’t turned up.’

“They will, there’s nowt else to do.’

Looking across the field that was surrounded by sycamore tree’s in full bloom with green leaves Terry spotted Manny Nicholson and Tony Santos coming through the bottom gate. That just leaves Alan Fairlamb, Mattheed, and Tucker Young to turn up.

“They’ll be here stated Ralph who had told them all to meet him in the park at 12’clock.’

Tony and Manny gave the roundabout a spin then hopped on it they climbed up as Ralph had done and began to swing from bar to bar.

The others showed up fifteen minutes later. Sitting in the shuggy boat they decided that they were going to plunder old Ned’s apple tree that was in the garden.

How are we going to get in there asked Mattheed?’

“Easy said Ralph; we climb onto the bog roof then jump into the garden. If we all go in there we will be spotted; Alan you’re the tallest take Mattheed with you he’s got a plastic bag that you can fill up then pass them on to us. Everybody has to be quiet or if Ned comes out we will be rumbled and he’ll call the police.’

They made their way quietly down the field to the toilets that were surrounded by shrubs.

“I need a Jimmy Riddle said Tucker, so do I said Mattheed as they made their way to the toilets.

“Hurry up will you Mattheed. Old Ned will be back from the pub soon and he might see us.’

“Here give me a bunk up will yer said Tucker Young who was the smallest of the group. They shimmied up the drain pipe then stood on the asphalted roof that was hot with the sun’s rays. We better lie flat in case the parkie’s wife see’s us. They looked down and saw the apple tree that was ripe for the picking. It was full of Cox’s Pippin rosy red apples.

Right Alan said Ralph, go down with Mattheed we will keep watch. If you hear me whistle twice like this. He put his fingers into his mouth and blew softly. That means the parkie is coming so you will have to scarper quickly.’

Alan and Mattheed jumped down into the neatly cut lawn garden with some summer bedding plants around the borders and red rose bushes. At the far end of the garden next to the Cottage window. Old Ned had a veg plot. He had peas and broad beans supported on bamboo canes, leeks, onions, and lettuce growing along side. Further along, he grew cabbages, cauliflowers, and carrots. There was a potting shed and a home made greenhouse made from window frames where he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, and he had a grape vine running right along from the potting shed through to the green house. Ned was a keen wine drinker and made his own from the grapes that he grew. He made elderberry wine for the berries that he collected and he made cider from the apples he grew.

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