These sharp mornings, when a mist is hovering in the valley below and fingers are quicker to cool, my thoughts turn to boots. In fact, it doesn’t take much for my mind to stray in this direction. The half formed picture of the ideal boot is always hovering somewhere near the edges of consciousness, a germ of an idea, ready to bloom into a full blown obsession at any moment.
When I lived in the city there was plenty of opportunity to indulge. In the country, the practical considerations always end up outweighing any fanciful style ideas. But you can see that within this there is embodied a quest. A practical boot to withstand the rigours of the mud yet with plenty of style
There are lots of boots in the hall….
Of course boots, like other footwear, come and go. But one particular pair have become my constant companion for over fifteen years. I can’t seem to shake them off. They now hang in the barn, their steel toecaps covered in dust, dried mud from their last outing still caked between the treads, a handy holder for a mallet. But I still say one day I might need those boots…
Throwing them away, passing them on or selling them just doesn’t seem to be an option. Deep down, I keep hoping and wishing they’ll change, a bit like a confused girlfriend over-attached to her bad boyfriend. Perhaps I keep hoping that they’ll do for me what I originally wanted. The fact that that they are the most uncomfortable boots I’ve ever possessed doesn’t seem to dislodge this recurring fantasy. I say to myself one day those boots will come good
It was an attractive woman who seemed to embody who I wanted to be that got me on this boot thing. I was in the middle of a life crisis and was changing everything so I was looking for ways to solidify this incredibly fluid self. She was an artist, feminine, with long tousled hair (I might as well have given up then), yet she had on a pair of chunky work boots which poked out from beneath her jeans. I think she very possibly had long legs too. I was retraining to be a gardener at the time so it all seemed to fit. I was so happy when they were on sale – 50% off.
I was clearly in one of those blind fashion moments, adrenalin pumping, without giving a thought as to why they were so reduced.
I persevered for a few days. It was like having your feet encased in concrete. The leather was hard and unforgiving and they weighed a ton. The tops were too high, and the edges chafed the side of my (slightly shorter than the woman I was emulating) leg terribly. I invested in a pair of longer socks to help out, believing that I could crack them, that they would eventually soften. Weren’t all boots like that?
After many tries I eventually gave up. I had to admit defeat. But nevertheless I stored them away one day I will have the energy and commitment to tackle them again I said to myself (secretly though, because those around me were possibly getting a bit tired of my blister complaints)
Over the years, either when I think I need something extra sturdy, or when I have imagined I can still grasp that elusive (unobtainable) ‘look’ that I so desired, they have occasionally come out of hiding and I try again. It’s all to no avail.
2011. When we moved into our house, it was a good four years since their last unsuccessful outing. This time though, it was going to be different. This time I enlisted B’s help too. If only I could customise them myself, things might work out. B cut the tops down to an acceptable height, just above the ankle, rather than just below the calf.
You’d think I should have known by now that even drastic measures weren’t going to work. Even though they were marginally improved by the trimming, I was almost instantly hobbled by clods of sticky clay on the landscaping job I was doing. It resembled the Somme, acres of bare compacted earth, with standing pools of non draining water. The hard soles and deep treads were a perfect surface for which the soil to adhere to. It was a relief to be home and the next day I let them dry out and when we moved we hung them up in the barn. But of course, you never know…
B made a keyring from the discarded leather which I have treasured ever since.
Maybe this was the real reason for their existence.