I hadn’t intended to start collecting skin. It just sort of happened.
The tin initially sat beside my bed, but I was fearful that my mother would find it, so hid it in my room.
Several times a week I would add to my collection. My preference was for perfectly circular skins, about two inches in diameter. To my mind these were the ultimate, especially if they were pure white. Not many were; mostly they were cream, or light brown. These weren’t perfect though. My “whites” as I called them were my favourites.
I never told anyone about the Skin Tin. I knew no one would understand. Most of the time the Tin lived in the piano, which I rarely played and no one else ever did. It was safe there.
But there came a time when the tin was almost full, and the skins had all started to stick together and also to go off. At my age, I hadn’t realised that would happen, and didn’t really know what I could do. I left it in the piano and didn’t add to it any more. Any skins I got from then on had to be thrown away.
And then my mother found it. She’d been dusting along the piano keys and wondered why some of them wouldn’t play. She lifted the lid, found the tin and opened it. She said the smell almost made her gag.
She had no idea what they were and came to ask me.
“They’re my skins.”
“What sort of skins? Skins from what? They stink, they’re disgusting! What are they?”
“The skins from my drinks. Horlicks, Ovaltine and some of them just hot milk. I like keeping them.”
She sighed heavily and dropped my precious tin into the pedal bin.
“Sometimes Hannibal, you really worry me.” she said.