Saturday, February 12, 2022

My Life In ... Shoes

The twelfth in an occasional series of alternative Curriculum Vitae because no-one on their death bed says "I wish I'd spent more time in the office".

Inspired by a lady in Fell Bar wearing pink Doc Martens here is the story of my life in shoes.

Prelude (1966): One of my father’s favourite songs was Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, "These Boots Are Made For Walking". I suspect the appeal lay as much in Nancy's charms as in the melody.

Blue suede shoes (1971): when I arrived at college I found myself in need of a new pair of shoes and so went into one of the High Street stores. I chose a pair of blue, suede, zip-up ankle boots. As I walked out of the store I realised what I had done and in my head I heard Elvis "Uh huh huh. You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes". Mark has left the building!

Platform soled boots (1972): all the glam rock bands on Top of the Pops were wearing platform soled boots: Slade, Sweet, Roxy Music, etc. So I had to get with the programme! Oxford High Street did not run to such exotic footwear so I made a special pilgrimage to London, to Camden market where I bought myself some platform boots with 2 inch soles and 4 inch heels. I didn’t quite have the courage to buy silver but went for a more pedestrian brown.

I let my father try them on and he strutted around our living room saying that it made him feel like John Wayne.

To complete the look I had to make myself a pair of flared jeans to go over the boots. I put a triangle in each leg from knee to hem and then an extension all the way round so that the jeans went to the floor. It seems daft in retrospect to buy a trendy pair of boots and then hide them in a denim tent.

One day I promise, I will spray them silver and wear them to a fancy dress party!

Update: Courtesy of my sister-in-law and her talented offspring, here is how I might have looked (and yes that is all my own hair).

Clogs (1973): for some reason clogs became all the rage so I bought myself a pair of black clumpy things. Maybe it’s the way I walk but I would struggle to keep them on my feet without them flying off and injuring some innocent bystander. So whenever I wore these unruly footwear my toes were clenched and my ankle tilted up in an effort control them. I hated them but was too mean to chuck them. I was greatly relieved when they finally wore out and I could dump them in the bin.

Red patent leather shoes (early 1980s): these were an impulse purchase that I spotted in an Oxford Street window . They were my party shoes. I also wore them to several office Christmas parties. In those days they were black tie or, in my case, red tie. I bought a red silk bow tie and matching red cummerbund to go with my shoes. I no longer have the shoes but I still have the red silk bow tie, cummerbund and handkerchief.

It was the shoes that caused me to choose my first company car by its colour: red to match my shoes.

Brasher Boots (1990): for the first 50 years of my life I did no walking. We were not an outdoor, sporty family. But then I ended up living temporarily in Cottingley in the Yorkshire Dales. Because I had acquired a new kitten I relocated up there and decided to try this walking malarkey.

I went into one of the many outdoor shops and bought the full set of gear  including Brasher boots which were not the solid leather, diving boot kind of footwear I was expecting. They were light and the label said "the first time I wore them I gambolled like a spring lamb". I am not sure how much gambolling I did but I foolishly thought they would last me a lifetime. Little did I know how much more walking lay in my future.

ECCO shoes (many): As previously posted, Ecco - 57% of the shoes in my wardrobe, I am a great fan of them. Subsequent to that post, when my Brasher Boots gave up the ghost, I went on to buy several pairs of ECCO walking boots and shoes.

Brooks adrenaline (2016-2022): rather like ECCO these running shoes nicely fit my feet so, having found a make that works for me, each time I wore out one pair I just bought another just the same. I am now on my fifth pair that had their inaugural run at today's parkrun.

Sandals (never): as far as I am concerned sandals are irredeemably naff! It doesn’t matter whether they are the classic brown leather Jesus sandals or high-tech mountaineering sandals. Doesn’t matter how much Gore-Tex, neoprene and Velcro you put in they are still sandals, style free and an offence to fashion. Crocs are are just another form of sandals in my book, nuff said!

What next? Ruby slippers?

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