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.


65. 65

“Well you come wi me.’

“You aren’t going to hit me are you Jack.’

“No; I know that you deserve a clip off me but I cannot see kids go hungry.’

Jack took him to his house where his back lane was then went into his yard and opened the shed and came out with a rabbit.

“Here give this to your lass to make a pan of rabbit stew, and next time come and ask me if you need food alright.’ “If I’ve got it I will give you something.’

“Thanks’ Jack; you are a good man.’

Jack nodded then went inside the yard and locked the door.’




“Here Ann go take this pan and go and get some hot water from the Skin Shop.’

Oh mam do I have to it stinks down there said Ann Whelan in protest but there was nothing that she could say that would change her mind. She saw Jan Nicholson playing in the lane and asked her if would come with her. Reluctantly her friend agreed. They walked slowly down the lane where they saw Mrs One Eye in the back yard she was putting clothes through the mangle as they passed. She gave them a gummy smile as they went by.’

“What you up to then Jan said Ann as they walked along the cobbled lane.’

“We were meant to go to my Aunt Hilda’s this afternoon but mam isn’t going now; dad came in full of drink again and they had a row. My mother bounced a pan off me fatha’s heed. It was just like something out of Laurel and Hardy as my mother was chasing him around the hoose wi the pan calling him all the drunken buggers as me fatha’ staggered aal over the room.

“He’s going to have a sore heed when he wakes up.’

He never learns though Ann; it’ll be the same next week.’

“Where there’s no sense there’s no feeling aye.’

They weren’t far away from the skin shop now and they spotted something further down the lane.

“What’s that said Ann to her friend as they walked on the other side of the lane as they got closer?’

“It looks like a dead dog.’

Jan held onto Ann as they got closer then the reality hit them as they saw that it was the head of a horse. Big maggots were crawling all over it as the eyes stared back at them.

“Oh the poor horse said Ann as they walked away from it towards the blood red doors of the skin shop. Both were gagging as they went inside and saw pat Chan loading the wagon with the offal bins.’

The smell was so bad in there that both girls now had their noses covered by their jumpers as they fought to hold a breath.

An old lady approached and asked them what they wanted. She looked about sixty five with greying hair tied back and a black pair of men’s trousers and hob nailed boots on.’

“Do yer want some hot watter?’

“Aye said Ann as she pulled the jumper down to speak. “Can you fill this big pan for me mother.’

“Aye Giz the bugger here I’ll fill it for yer.’

Ann handed the big pan over with a lid. It had a handle on both sides so that it could be carried by two people.

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