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.


106. 106

“I don’t know; is there a film on that we could go to, or a dance; you do dance I take it.’

“Yes, but very badly I’m afraid.’

There’s a play on at the theatre that we could go to.’

“Oh yes, what is it?’

“It’s the Mouse Trap by Agatha Christie.’

“I would have to go and change first if that is alright.’

“I can drop you off then come back and pick you up later.’

“That would be fine.’

“Right then let’s get you back then.’

“I must thank your parents for inviting me to dinner before I leave.’


Over the next few nights Ralph and his new friend Brian Smith went to the rink where they skated with Joanne and Sharon. Brian was competing in an ice skating competition with the two girls on Saturday in Nottingham. Brian had already asked him if he would like to go and of course Ralph had accepted because he wanted to see Sharon. Again it was an early start because the drive down would take over three hours. Ralph put on his best clothes and a clean shirt. His father had given him some money and his mother had put him a packed lunch up so he wouldn’t need to buy anything for his lunch but considering he was going to be there until about nine o’clock that night he would need something for his tea.

Ralph met Brian at his house at six am. They had to register at ten o’ clock. Arthur got everyone in the car. Enid sat up front with her husband as his costume skates and their food was put into the boot of the blue ford by Brian who liked to do that himself. Then they set off for Newcastle and would drive to Leeds then onto Manchester then finally Nottingham.

There was a car radio so Brian turned it on to hear the local weather. It as fine now but it might be a completely different story in Nottingham. They listened to some light music which helped pass the time both Ralph and Brian rested on the side of car window and went back to sleep.

Enid chatted to Arthur softly as they got onto the motorway. It was a journey that they had made many times since Brian had started to enter competitions. Skaters from all over the British Isles came to take part. Brian had two main rivals Todd Slessor and Anna Jacobs from Birmingham and Jason Dewar and Margaret Stewart from Scotland.

Jason was the British Champion and he was three years older than Brian. Todd Slessor was the same age as himself.

The good thing Brian’s favour was he never seemed to get nervous during the competitions; in fact he thrived on them and skated better.

On the other hand Joanne did and they had lost marks because of it. She tended to go stiff and more robotic at times and lacked the grace of the other girls. Sharon Hamil was not technically as good as Joanne but she had more confidence and Enid said that if Sharon was a little more technically gifted she would have been a perfect dance partner for Brian.’

They passed Leeds and headed for Manchester. They were making good time as the traffic was fairly light; it was the holidays that there were caravans being towed along and long distance lorry drivers to contend with.

By the time they got to Manchester the boys had woken up and were now getting excited. Ralph handed Brian a copy of the Beano whilst he read the Topper comic book. Every now and again there would be the sound of laughter would break out 

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