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.


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from the back seat. Arthur was just pleased that Brian had found a friend in Ralph because before he had been a virtual loner. He didn’t mix well with the others in his school because he was a skater. Most boys his age thought that he was a cissie for being an ice skater. They didn’t realise the hard work and sacrifice that Brian had to make to reach the standard that he had achieved.

They drove through the city centre until they found the rink and then parked up.

Brian went into the boot and took out his costume and his boots he was inside before everyone and went straight to the changing room as his father and mother went to register their son.

 Ralph walked into the rink and took a seat. It wasn’t long before Joanne and Sharon came over to say hello they were wearing their costumes that their parents had got made from a friend who worked in a clothing factory. They looked very smart in them and both had their hair clipped up in a bun at the back. Their mothers had applied a little make up and they looked older than they actually were.

They could stay long they said as they had to go on the ice for their warm up once Brian and Sharon’s partner Neil Whitelaw had come from the changing room.

There were many supporters who had travelled down to the venue to cheer on family members. There was three categories’. The girl’s singles programme; then the boys’ singles programme and finally the pair’s competition.’

The announcer called for the first skater in the girl’s competition.

Sharon and Joanne had to go to the warm up room as the first girl; a young Chinese girl called Millie Wong from Leeds took to the ice. She was skating to Air on a G string by Johan Sebastian Bach. She was only eleven years old and she was skating above her years. The young girl moved with the grace of a little butterfly as she spun and skipped along on the ice. When she had finished even Ralph clapped. The next skater was ready to come on as the marks out of six were given to each skater. When the score came up there was one 3 and the rest were all 4.

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s moonlight sonata played as Janice Robinson from Essex skated. Ralph could see how the skaters were technically better as the older girls skated. The compulsory dance steps got better as they performed harder elements to their routines. There were twenty girls and Sharon was on second last. She skated to the music of Vivaldi’s four seasons. Ralph gave her a big cheer as she finished.

She was given three 4.5 and one 5 she had attempted a double toe loop and a double Lutz which had increased her mark

There was only Joanne left to skate and she chose a piece by Chopin Ballade No 1 in G.

She was certainly better on her own than she was dancing with Brian, Ralph thought.’ her marks reflected that as she was given three 5 and one 6.

Ralph clapped again.

Joanne was given second place and Sharon third.’

Then the boys took to the ice and Ralph could see how good they all were. Brian was on eleventh and both Sharon and Joanne and her parents came over. Is this the boy that you were telling us about said Sharon’s’ mother.’

“Yes mam.’

“Hello Mrs Hamil said Ralph smiling.’

“Thank you for coming and supporting the girls.’

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world; they are both very talented.’

“You will have to come for tea one evening.’

“That would be nice.’

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