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.


11. 11

“Right then let’s get home; give your mother these and tell them that a woman who lives near the vicarage was giving these away.’ “Dad knows they have apple tree’s up there said Terry Lane.’

“We can pay them a visit next time Terry.’

“They all laughed then took a bite from the remaining apples as they crossed over the road past the Berwick.


“Here mam this woman was giving these away by the vicarage.’

“That was very Christian of her wasn’t it?’ I will make some apple pies with those Ralph.’

“Is our John in then mam?’

“No he’s playing football on the field in Dockwray Square. He will be back for his dinner soon.

“I hope so I’m starvin’

“Don’t say that son; those poor children in Africa are starving.’

“Well I’m starvin’ hungry then.’

You can help set the table if you like whilst I drain the cabbage.

Using a colander Hannah drained the steaming cabbage into another pan so she could make gravy with it. Hannah always used the juices from carrots, cabbage, and turnip to make the gravy with as she believed that all the goodness was in the juice. She added the juices from the meat then spooned in some corn flour and milk to thicken it.

Ralph took out the plates as his sister Agnes came in and began to stir it. Agnes was ten years older than Ralph; she was always looking out for him and would correct his Geordie accent. Now sixteen Agnes had been away after joining the RAF and both he and John wouldn’t see her for a while again as she was only home for the weekend. She had landed a Job in the telecommunications department where she had been receiving voice training.

She went on to coach both John and Ralph how to speak correctly by making them pronounce their vowels. O for orange and A for apple She would repeat to them. Soon it began to sink in and both Ralph and John lost the Geordie twang but only when Agnes was around. Soon as they were with their mates the Geordie twang soon returned.

Agnes had told them if they didn’t speak correctly that they would never get good jobs when they left school.

“Parse the cutlery from the cabinet please said Agnes.’

“You mean pass don’t you Aggie;

“No you pronounce it parse and don’t call me Aggie my name is Agnes.’

“But I’ve always called you Aggie and so does mam and dad.’

“Well not anymore; you will address me with my proper name from now on is that understood?

“Yes Agg’ I mean Agnes.’

John came running down the passage.’

“Is wor dinner oot yet Aggie.’

 “What did you just say said Agnes looking sternly at her brother?’

“Sorry; I mean is our dinner ready Agnes?’

“Mother will be serving it presently.’ Please go and wash your hands both of you; they are filthy.’

Ralph looked at his brother then they both went to the sink and picked up the half bar of lifebuoy soap and wriggled it around in their hands to make lather then rinsed them under the cold tap.

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