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.


10. 10

Alan scaled the apple tree unseen then pulled up Mattheed who proceeded in filling the carrier bag full of ripe juicy red apples. He stopped on a branch and bit into one of the apples he had picked.

“Just get them in the bag said Alan as he stuffed some into his tank top that had been tucked into his shorts.

Mattheed dropped the apple he was munching on and carried on picking the fruit. When his bag was almost full he spotted the grapes in the green house.

“Look at that said Mattheed to Alan as they were climbing down from the tree.’

“Come on lets get out of here or we will get caught.’ Pick that apple up an aal it’s got your teeth marks on it. Ned will know someone has been in the garden.’

All was quiet apart from the twittering of the birds in the trees and the sound of buzzing bees. Alan took the bag of apples off Mattheed then passed them to Ralph who pulled them up onto the toilet roof. He was about to climb up but when he looked around there was no sign of Mattheed.

“Mattheed he whispered but there was no sign of him. Alan climbed onto the fence then using his strength grabbed the asphalt and climbed onto the roof.

“Where’s Mattheed?’

“I don’t know, he was there and the next he was gone.’

Mattheed whispered Ralph, if you don’t come now we’re leaving you here.’ Tony Santos alerted them all when he called out Parkie.’

“Where is he?’

“He’s just come through the gates; Mattheed Ralph shouted Parkie’s coming.’


Mattheed couldn’t resist going around the back of the potting shed that was slightly ajar. He slipped silently inside the shed where he saw a treasure trove of grapes and tomatoes. He filled his pockets with the ripe tomatoes then using a pair of scissors from the bench he cut a big bunch of grapes and began to eat them. He had eaten nearly half the bunch when he heard the garden gate being opened he quickly hid behind the door. Ned looked around at his garden then spotted some broken leaves that had fallen from the apple tree. He went over and picked them up and then went to get his watering can. He was about to go to the water butt that was near the greenhouse when Sally his wife called him in for his dinner.’

He discarded the leaves then went into the house as Mattheed made his escape.

He clambered up onto the fence then got onto the toilet roof using the drain pipe he lowered himself down then ran across the field. Mattheed caught up with the others as he walked along Saville Street. Mattheed was eating the remainder of the grapes.

He had a satisfied smile on his face when he had eaten the last one and placed the stalk into the bin on the lamppost.

“Where were you said Ralph; we thought you’d been caught.’

“Look what I got said Mattheed as he pulled tomatoes from his pockets.

“Did you get any grapes?’

 “No, he lied, I saw the parkie coming, and it was a good job the door wasn’t locked. I hid until his wife shouted him in for his dinner.

“Right lets share these out. They passed the newsagents that was still open and asked the woman inside if they could have four plastic bags.

“I’ve got no plastic ones but I’ve got these large brown paper bags.’

Thanks’ missus said Manny as he took them from the lady in the shop then went outside.

There was enough for thirty apples each with one each left over to eat. They shared the tomatoes and they each had four large firm ones each.

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