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.


96. 96

People said had the games been allowed in 1940 they would have stood a good chance of winning a medal

Ludmila and Oleg Photopopov from the USSSR were the favourites to win the gold at the 1948 winter Olympics and they did just that. Maria fell during the routine which scuppered any hopes of a medal.


At seven o’clock the coaching was over and Maria and dick promptly left.

Brian came over with the two girls and introduced them

“This is my dance partner She’s called Joanne Gardner but we call her Jo and this is her friend Sharon Hamil.

“Hello I’m Ralph Mason and I cannot skate for toffee.’

“We saw that said Sharon laughing. Maybe we can show you a thing or two.’

They took Ralph by the hand and gave him some tuition and it worked. Before long Ralph was able to turn and stop. Bryan was off speeding around the ice hydro-blading. Ralph was enjoying the intimacy with these two young beauties.

They moved around and around in the middle of the ice then showed Ralph how to do a simple spin. He had a go and ended up on his backside. Persistence paid off and Ralph eventually did it. Sharon gave him a clap. Ralph tried to bow and went down again. “Would you like to come for a cup of tea in the café they asked Ralph?’

“Yes please said Ralph I don’t think my bum can take much more of this ice. He called Brian over.’

“Come on we are going for a cup of tea in the café.’

Brian was reluctant to leave the ice but followed Ralph up the flight of stairs that had thick rubber on them to stop skaters from slipping. Once at the top they sat down and removed their skates and placed a protective shield over them. Why do you take your skates off?

The rubber blunts the edge and you cannot go as fast. You have to pay to get them sharpened here. Looking down they saw more people coming in with their children. A couple of ice hockey players were skating around practicing passing and dribbling past one another. The Rink was owned by Chas Laidlaw he was an ex Canadian hockey player and he organised games each week from all over the country. The games were a sell out and Brian said when he wasn’t competing he liked to come and watch.

“How much is it to get in asked Ralph?’

“I can get you in for nothing if you want to come.’

“Yes,’ it sounds like fun to watch.’

“Its too brutal for us said the girls.’

“So do you come every night here?’

No, every morning and three nights a week.’

“What do you do when you’re not skating then?’

“We enjoy a dance at the local church or we go to the picture house on a Saturday afternoon.

“I go to the Gourmont and the Rex pictures on a Saturday.’

Maybe we can meet you one Saturday then.’

“Yes, that would be nice; what about this Saturday?’

“We have a competition in Nottingham but maybe Brian’s mam would bring you along.

Ralph bought the teas then brought them over.’

“My father comes to pick us up at nine o’clock Ralph; if you come tomorrow night I will give you your next skating lesson.’

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