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. i

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“Have you visited many countries?’

No, until last month I had never been abroad in my life.’

“Where did you go?’

“I went skiing with a friend in the WAF called Jenny Simpson; she invited me to go over with her parents who are well to do.’

“Did you enjoy yourself there, you know with all of those hunky ski instructors asked Gertrude.’

Again the question was a leading one which implied other things.

“My instructor was from Vancouver in Canada; he was called Benny. I was very grateful for his patience as I’ve never skied in my life before.’

“Not too grateful I hope.’

Agnes ignored the insult and just carried on talking; it’s a bit hard on your bottom the first few days.

“Yes it can be very hard on your posterior when you first start.’

“So have you skied as well Gertrude?’

 “Many times; I love the Dolomite slopes in Italy they are a real joy to ski on.’

“I will have to try them next year when I get the time off.’

“Maybe we can go together said Norman.’

“That would be nice; can you ski?’

“Norman learned to ski when he was only seven didn’t you dear.’

“Yes mother.’

After a main course of fillet of beef with all of the trimmings Agnes set her knife and fork down and it was promptly removed by Sloane.’

Both Norman and Agnes skipped the dessert and Norman asked her if she would like the sixpence tour of the house and gardens.’

“That would be nice thank you.’

Norman excused them from the table and they made their way around the house.

After showing her the down stairs rooms including the huge kitchen area he led Agnes upstairs to the twelve bed rooms. There were two bathrooms with a shower and a massive stone bath in each and an inside toilet.

Each of the bedrooms had a different coloured duvet with silk pillows and sheets.’

“You know it must cost a fortune to heat this house in the winter time.’

“Not really Agnes, we have two huge wood burning stoves that heat water that runs through pipes all over the house; we also have a large open fire which is used.

“Why twelve rooms?’

“Well my father has guests who come from all over the world to see him. We even had an Arab prince staying here with his entourage for a week end a few years ago.’

Norman led Agnes through the Arbour to the extensive garden where the smell of lavender and red and pink rhododendron bushes filled the air. The neatly landscaped borders had a mixture of purple lobelia, and petunias, dahlias, marigolds and other perennials filled up the borders as they walked slowly around then they came to a beautiful water feature with a pond where large Koi carp in various colours of orange and black, white and orange swam idly around. A few golden Orfs picked up dead insects that had fallen into the pond. There was a garden bench and Agnes sat down trying to take it all in. The ornamental bird house that had six white doves caught her eye.’

“Are they tame she asked?’

“Yes, watch this said Norman. He opened a tin that had been placed on a wall then shook it and immediately the bids flew to him and began to take the corn from his hand.’

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