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.


23. 23

dole. So it began mass unemployment in the North East. Men with skilled jobs before the war were forced to take any work they could in order to feed their families.

People blamed the government who in turn blamed the men for being lazy and not seeking work. Strikes broke out and there were riots in the streets.’ men were killed as they demonstrated for a better living wage.

“Women in the meantime were enjoying the new found freedom and independence of not being tied to a kitchen sink anymore. No longer were they forced to get married in order to have a life. They could go out to work just like the men.





Terry Lane hoofed the football  to his friend Ralphie Mason who went past Tony Santos. He squared the ball to his older brother John who had come out to play with them with his friend Bobby Willis. Mattheed who was ordered to get in goal had no chance of saving the shot from John as he blasted the ball past him.

Ralphies team were winning 25-3 it was a massacre. Ralphies team were just too good for the others. John Kimber threatened to take his ball home if the team wasn’t changed.

You cannot change a team in the middle of a game but you can bring three subs on.

“Who we ganna bring on like?’

Well there’s Tucker Young and there’s the girls as well.

Jan Nicholson shouted over that she would play and so would Alice Walker. What about Janice and Tracy Brown said John? He liked Janice who was in his school at Western board. She liked him too and they sometimes play truth or dare just so she would get her friends to dare her to kiss John who was a tall handsome lad. Bobby Willis couldn’t fail knocking around with John as all the girls liked him. Ralphie was just a skinny kid with a centre parting in his blond hair. He didn’t see girls in that way yet but John was three years older.

Janice and her sister agreed to play even though they knew nothing about football. Jan and Alice were just like Tom boys; they would rather mix with boys than girls.’

The second half got under way and the ball was booted up and down the lane until Terry hoofed it over the Skin shop.’

“Not again said Ralphie.’

“Gan and get it said Mattheed.’

Terry reluctantly climbed up on the wall and was making his way into the yard when he was spotted by policeman Charlie Flashman.

Charlie had been with the force for ten years and he patrolled his beat with an iron fist. Many of the lads had had a clip off Charlie for doing something they shouldn’t.

Charlie blew his whistle and Terry was off like a shot across the roof tops.

Charlie had been a good runner in his youth and could still beat anyone over two hundred yards. He followed Terry after climbing up onto the wall.

“Stop you little bugger shouted Charlie as he bounded across the corrugated roof top in pursuit.

Terry turned and laughed at the copper as he tried to catch him. Then his face turned to horror as he fell through a skylight screaming. Terry lay on the floor of the Slate Yard; his legs were cut to pieces from the wire in the glass and his right leg was clearly broken.

Charlie climbed down from the wall and raced to a nearby phone box and rang an ambulance. 

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