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.


46. 46

then this was another immaculate conception because it had turned out to be a living nightmare when she missed two periods. Soon it was all too clear when she started to be sick in the morning and her body started to change. She knew instinctively that she was pregnant.

The minutes ticked on until she heard her father come in through the door.

“Jane pet, I’m home he said happily as the drink had sweetened his temper.

“I’m in the scullery George; you better come in here I have something to tell you.’


George soon sobered up as Jane went on to tell her husband what had happened.

“Who’s the father?’

“A young boy called Brian Harman; he’s coming tonight to see you.’

“Margaret; come in here love said her father.’

He took a deep breath and then exhaled as his daughter walked into the scullery.

I’m sorry dad we thought…

“You know what thought did don’t you?’


“Thought, thought he’d shit himself and when he looked he had.’

“What were you thinking about lass; now look at you.’ I’ve been through this wi your Aunty Muriel but she was twenty two and should have known better. My father belted the living daylights out of our Muriel.

Are you going to belt me dad?’

“No lass; two wrongs never made a right.’

“I admire the lad for having the courage to come and see me.’

Muriel’s lad didn’t; he left her to bring up your Cousin Peter all on her own. At least the lad is man enough to stand by you.

“I’ve spoken wi our Sarah George and Margaret is going to stay wi her until after the baby is born. Then we can pass it off as our child until Margaret is old enough to look after it herself. I will come to Sarah’s for a few days then tell people I had the baby in Morpeth when my waters broke. “You will have to pretend that the baby is either your brother or sister until you get married do you hear me?’

“Yes mam.’

“Right then, pack that brown suitcase under our bed there’s some baby clothes in there from when you were a baby in there. let’s hope it’s a girl and then you won’t have to buy new clothes.

“I will get some wool and knit some boys clothes; I will pass it around that I’m pregnant and that I’m due in February.’

That will tie in for when you have the baby.’

“I won’t see you both for Christmas then?’

“No, best not to Margaret you are going to be twice the size you are now.’ People would put two and two together and make six.’

You are going to stay in doors until Saturday. I will loan you my big rain coat that will hide the bump until you get to your Aunt Sarah’s.’

“What are you going to tell them about me when people ask. I will say that you are working away as a maid in a stately home.’

Margaret got up and went to her parent’s room and pulled out the large brown case from under the bed.’ She opened it and inside was lots of knitted baby clothes in different sizes and nappies that she had kept. She picked up the little outfit that she had worn as a baby then held it to her nose. It smelled of lavender as her mother had packed some lavender flowers inside to mask the smell of moth balls.

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