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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 The next lesson was woodwork which Ralph enjoyed, he like making things with his hands. They were making a cracket to take home and Ralph was sanding it down ready for varnishing. Brian was using a jig saw to cut the V shapes on either side of the legs before sanded each one then down screwed them onto the main body of the seat. They had to be counter sunk then filled before a final sanding with a low graded sand paper and then it would be ready for the first coat of varnish.

Mr Cook the woodwork teacher didn’t mind if you chatted as long as you weren’t noisy or just sitting around doing nothing.

“What made you want to be an ice skater then asked Ralph.’

“Ice dancer Brian corrected him.’


“I don’t know really said Brian I guess I just liked it. I got to dance with older girls as well so that was a bonus.’

“Ah so that’s it then; the girls are the attraction.’

“Yes they were in the beginning I must admit but now I skate because I enjoy it; I love the competition and travelling around the country.’

We go to London and Nottingham, Birmingham and up to Scotland too.’

“Really, my mother takes me normally in the car.’

“What do they call your mam and dad?’

“They are called Enid and Arthur.’ They have had to spend a lot of money on me to get me where I am now, but it has been worth it.

“So do you plan to become a professional skater one day?’

“Yes, I would like that very much.’

Ralph had given his cracket its first coat of varnish and was now helping Brian to cut the other leg with the jig saw. Once it was done they sat on the stools sanding them down.

“What are you going to make after this?’

“I don’t know said Brian.’

“We could make a chess board; then in arts and crafts ask Mr Clegg if we can make the chess pieces out of clay. We could paint them and fire them so the paint sets like on china plates. We would have a Chess board and all the pieces each so if you came to our house we could play. “Also we could ask Mr Cook if we can make some draughts too.’

“We would have two games that we could play then.’

“Good idea Ralphie.’

The bell sounded to end the lesson and Ralphie tightened up the last screw in the cracket. It only has to be filled and lightly sanded Brian; a coat of varnish on it next week and then it can be left to dry. We can crack on making our chess boards next week.’


Ralph and Brian placed all the tools back on the walls where they had got them from each one had a painted out shape of the tool so you knew where each one went.

Once that was done and they had swept up they were allowed to go to dinner.

It was a good walk to the dinning hall and both Brian and Ralph followed the many others along.



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