Some things change, over time. Some things don’t.
I still only ever own one pair of shoes at a time. I put them on in the shop when I buy them, bin the old ones, and on I go. That hasn’t changed. But I don’t wear the Doc Martens any more. I’d love to, but I just can’t make it work. I go through them too quickly, you see, and they’re a bit too expensive to be having three new pairs every year, which it how it was shaping up near the end.
At first, I thought it was the fault of the shoes but, when I looked harder at it I came to conclude, as I often do, that it was all my fault. It all came down to the way at sit at my desk when I’m working. I tend to ‘perch’ a bit on my chair with my toes planted firmly on the floor but the rest of my foot bent back up. It’s much more comfortable than it sounds but it is very hard on the uppers of the old Docs. That’s where they started to fail and that’s why we had to part company. The new type of shoe I wear is black and nondescript and is not a million miles from the aesthetic of the Doc Marten shoe. Except, well, it is actually a million miles from the aesthetic of the Doc Marten shoe.
Another aspect of having only one pair of shoes is that I only tend to get the new pair when a crisis occurs with the current ones.
That crisis always takes the same shape. The rain comes in.
You never know you have a hole in your shoe until it starts to rain. That could be a proverb, I think, though I don’t exactly know what the point of it would be. It just sounds like it fits, doesn’t it? I was like that old song. I ran on for a long time, in nice dry weather, and I never even had a hint that it was new shoe time. And then, quite quickly, it became all too clear.
There are few things more instantly party-pooping than having a hole in your shoe when it’s raining. That damp foot seems to drain a level of optimism and goodwill out of the world. Your stride becomes a trudge. Your smile a little more forced.
Off to the shoe shop, post haste. They don’t have the shoes I wear now, not in stock. Would I like these, or these, or even these (which are exceedingly popular). No, no and no. I find myself unusually entrenched on the type of shoe I need. The same as last time. Accept no substitute. I recognise in myself a dogged need to not give any more ground on this matter. Life has taken away my Doc Martens from me, and I am ever-so-slightly the lesser man on account of that. I can’t allow it to chip away any further at my sartorial standards. The lady in shop confirms that, yes, she can order me a pair of the same shoes again but wouldn’t I like these ones instead? No. An order is placed. But it will take two weeks for the new shoes to come.
So now I face two weeks of wet socks.
Or the alternative, which is almost worse.
My eldest son went to a wedding, some years ago, and bought himself a pair of shoes which he never wore again. The shoes are my size and they’re there under his bed, although he’s in another city now. I try the shoes on. They fit. So I wear them to work. My feet are dry.
These shoes… they’re like skis. They are long and slender and they feel almost twice as long as my actual feet. I walk around in these winkle-picker monstrosities and I catch my toes on steps and I trip. I feel like a spiv, a ‘Flash Harry’. I feel like the guy with the small moustache in Dad’s Army. I will get you whatever you need, just at a price.
It's dry today, so I can wear my shoes with the holes in. Yes, there is a hole in each now. If it rains tomorrow, I will be in spiv mode again. Ducking and diving. Stick a monkey in my pocket…
God, I hope my new shoes come soon.