Sunday, March 3, 2013
These Boots ... (2)
On a visit to London to see the young Signses, I poked my head into Hackney's Mare Street. The last time I was there was in November 1991, shortly before we left the Smoke to go and live on the Edge. I went into a shoe shop to get myself some Doc Martens lace-up boots and prattled in uncharacteristic fashion about going off to a place where you needed a strong pair of boots to walk around in. The shop assistant was tired and bored, but I felt a pressing need to talk about where I was going, to visualise myself in the new life, sure-footed and purposeful in my new boots, roaming over open heathland where the gorseflowers bloomed and through the forest, gathering heather to put in vases on the window sill, and shiny conkers.
"These boots," I said to the shop assistant, "are definitely made for walking."
"Comfortable, are they?" She had never heard of the song.
"Wrap them up," I said. "Are ya ready, boots?"
The shop assistant said she hoped I would enjoy my holiday. I told her it wasn't a holiday. I don't think she would have replied whatever because people didn't say that so much in 1991.
There is still a shoe shop in the same spot, and a Macdonalds across the road where I sometimes took the children for a treat. Further down, there is the Hackney Empire and the Town Hall. It was too cold to go far and I had a train to catch.
I knew when we left that we were burning bridges, that we would never be able to afford to come back. I was right about that and the prediction that Hackney would become trendy. If we had waited until now to sell the house we lived in and move, we would be in the money. But I would still do the same thing, even though I hardly ever did get to use the boots for the serious walks I had in mind because M.E. came with me and rarely allowed it. And truth to tell, they are not particularly comfortable. At my rate of serious walking, it took about five years to wear them in at all. I have also sported them at occasions such as performances with the local choral society when formal black dress is required, and they have served me for weddings, funerals, posh meals out. As anyone who knows me knows, I don't 'do' shoes, other than Birkenstocks and Crocs in summer, Uggs and trainers the rest of the time - nothing with anything you might call a heel.
The mud on the boots testifies both to the fact that I do occasionally get out and roam in the places where I imagined I would go when I bought the boots and that I am not someone who polishes shoes very much, because this mud is pre-Christmas. I can't help thinking about Van Gogh's painting of black boots, especially with one leaning slightly against the other, like the less dominant twin. The heels are hardly worn down at all so I imagine they will easily do me for another
twenty or so years.
I'll keep you informed.