I need to buy new shoes.
I’ve already explained the reasons for this; I don’t need to explain any further, surely? People buy new shoes all the time; it’s not a big deal. Leave me alone.
Today I went in to three shops, hoping to buy shoes in each. Actually this is not correct. I hoped to buy shoes in the first shop. Having failed to do so, I went into a second shop and hoped to buy shoes there. This second shop did not have shoes for me, and so I went to a third shop and hoped I would have luck there instead. Saying “I went in to three shops, hoping to buy shoes in each” suggests I hoped to buy three pairs of shoes, one from each shop. What I mean is, I only wanted to buy one pair of shoes, and as I entered each of the three shops I visited today, I remained hopeful each time that this could be the shop; this could be where I would buy my shoes.
I didn’t buy any shoes.
The first shop I went to was Topman. More correctly, Topshop was the first shop I went into. I needed to go into Topshop to get to Topman. Topman is on the upper floors of the flagship Topshop store on Oxford Street in London, and forgetting to bring a ladder or set of grappling hooks, I decided instead to enter through the main entrance and use the escalator (twice) to the top floor where the men’s shoe department is currently situated.
I was filled with hope as I travelled up these escalators. The shoes I had sadly lost in Edinburgh had been from Topman. A pair of black, creased leather low Chelsea boots. £38. Not bad. If they had them in stock, I wouldn’t even need to try them on. I already know they fit. I was wearing them just last week – before the rain and the cobbles and the fear.
They didn’t have any.
They had other shoes which looked vaguely interesting. I picked them up. I studied them. They did not appeal.
From there, I went to Schuh and then Office. My confidence was already shattered. I knew it was pointless.
Once upon a time, I bought a pair of boots from Schuh. In fact, I wore them yesterday, or at least I wore what remains of them. They were nice boots, but they caused me pain. They were the last pair in that size in the shop when I bought them, and the right (I want to say “right-hand” here, but obviously that is stupid) one had been the “display” model. Consequently, that shoe had been stretched and softened by the feet of countless people on my behalf (teamwork). The other shoe (the left one) had been hidden away in a box in their stockroom, lonely and resentful.
Despite the fact that I had offered this shoe freedom – a chance at a new life, away from all the other shoes, no longer trapped in a box stuffed with tissue paper – I could tell that it didn’t trust me. It crushed my foot for months. Some days I’d take painkillers to help me get through it. The worst was when I wore the boot on a plane going to Berlin. The cabin pressure caused my foot to swell slightly, and the boot refused to help in any way whatsoever. I had to take the boot off in the end, fearful that my foot might actually burst otherwise. This was a mistake. After that moment, the shoe knew it was in charge; the shoe was dominant.
For weeks, months even, I pleaded with the shoe for peace. Eventually, the shoe came to an agreement with the bones in my foot and some sort of treaty was signed. If I am honest, I would say that the bones in my foot gave way too quickly, and they should have stood their ground for longer. However, I am not sure that sort of language is helpful in the long term and we should be grateful that some kind of peaceful settlement was reached. It was in this uncertain peace that I lived for almost a year. These were happy times. The conflict over, we walked the streets of London together. Me and my boots. Nothing could separate us. Well, maybe only some socks.
Of course, it couldn’t last. Nothing lasts forever. A small crack formed in the sole of the shoe and as it grew, the boots became increasingly unsuitable for wet weather. My own physicality didn’t help either; weak ankles meaning that the inner side of each heel would wear away within a few months and as I wore the wonkified pair of shoes for longer, the problem surely only got worse.
Out of desperation, it has been this pair of shoes which I have been wearing for the last few days.
Of course, there was nothing in Schuh and there was nothing in Office.
My trouble is that I know exactly what I want, and so mainstream commerce has little to offer me. The ideal consumer is someone who knows vaguely that they want to buy something, and they sort of know how much they want to spend on whatever it is, but is otherwise open to suggestion. That’s not the case with me. I want a pair of black leather pointed Chelsea boots with a Cuban heel in a size 8 (size 42) for about sixty quid. I want the cruel shoes from Schuh again, basically, but without the pain.
There is, of course, a lesson here. That lesson is that if you find a pair of shoes you like, you should buy enough pairs of those shoes to see you through the dark times. At the very minimum, I’d recommend buying a dozen pairs of your favourite shoes.