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.


42. 42

She opened the bag and took it out then sat down and put on a pair of specs from another compartment.

She got hold of the breadknife and slid it along until it was open.

She pulled it free from the envelope and opened it.

Dear Mrs McLachlan,

Please find enclosed a cheque for £987.00 and fourteen shillings.

This is a final settlement from Percy Hedley timber merchants. This is in respect of damages received to your husband on the 24th of May 1943. We are very sorry that it has taken over five years to settle this case but I assure you we did try and bring a speedy conclusion to this matter. I know that no amount of money will compensate you for your loss, but we hope that this will help you and your children’s future.


Yours Sincerely William S Hart QC





Cissie looked at the cheque and then again at the letter and the tears flooded down her face. She wept for what seemed a lifetime thinking of her late husband as Dolly put her arms around her. Cissie thought of how little they had valued her husband’s life. Yes,’ they were right; no amount of money would bring her husband back. It was as if her husband was being paid off and forgotten about. She stood up then returned the letter and the cheque to her bag and set about making the broth whilst Dolly prepared a large deep dish for the chops, liver and cow’s heart and sausages. The sausages would also make a sausage and egg pie once they were cooked so Dolly prepared her large mixing bowl and tipped in a two pound bag of flower. “It’s a good job that I bought plenty isn’t it she laughed.’

Dolly added some margarine and brought the mixture together with a little water. She took a rolling pin from the drawer threw more flower down onto the table before starting to roll out the pastry. Cissie peeled all the vegetables and then washed them in the big stone sink near the window. She filled the large cooking pot with water then all the bacon, bones lap and pig’s trotters were set to boil. Then Cissie set about dicing all the vegetables and then soaked all the pulses to get the starch from them.

The task took Dolly and Cissie most of the afternoon but the smells that permeated from the scullery was delightful. The two boys Robert and James ran in from playing in the park and they too could smell all the food.

“Are we having a party mam?’

“Sort of son we have to cook this all today so it will last us all week so don’t be making pig’s of yourselves.’

“We won’t mam they promised.’

“They are good boys aren’t they said Dolly as she used the remaining pasty to make a cheese and onion tart.’

“Nothing has been wasted Cissie we’ve used every single bit.’

 As the pies were done they were placed onto the now clean table to cool down and Cissie removed the bones from the big pot of stock then added all the vegetables she chopped up some herbs that she’d bought from Atkinson’s then added the pulses.

She gently stirred the mixture then left it to simmer.’

Just the leek and onion puddings to make Dolly then we can sit down and have our tea.’

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