Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My shoes

Three pairs of brothers

I have three pairs of shoes that are identical in in design and size, though they have aged differently. You can see their three ages above. And in a year, perhaps, I shall get another: four pairs of brothers.

They were all bought at the same shop, with about one year intervals between them.

Their shape is immensely pleasing to me. They are a little pointed, a hint of Gothic, but not so pointed as to arrive at the mannerism of the winkle picker. They do not have girly decorations: no whorls, or additional bits of leather, or preposterous seams. The leather is very good: supple, breaking in nicely.

A negative is that the soles are a little thin, though were they thicker, the shoe would be unbalanced, visually.

So I have to take them to a Paraguayan up in Trindade every few months. There are two Paraguayans and they have shops almost opposite each other: both have fat square faces and bad teeth and spade hands but one is charming but useless, the other brisk and efficient and seldom comes out from the back. A women, perhaps his wife, handles all the transactions. She isn't that friendly but once they gave replaced my laces for free. Last time she refused to repair the pair on the left, saying that the welts had gone, therefore the soles no longer worth fising: hence the purchase on the right two months ago. I respect a trademan when he refuses work, though I left saddened. I am considering, therefore, taking the shoes to the other Paraguayan repairer, who is certainly less conscientious, but more perhaps more sensible to  the demands of sentiment.

Another negative is that the the makers, Brooksfield, seem to have a passion for chocolate, so that their shoes are generally variations on chocolate colours, from dark through to Cadbury's milk. I'd be happier if Brooksfield had a passion for Chestnuts or mahogany, something redder.

But as the shoes get older and I add polish of a more pleasing hue, they change and develop a lovely patina. In the Hotel Mercury Hotel along the road is a wonderful machine, and not the worst thing you can do on a dull day is to cover the shoes liberally with polish and stand by the lift and put your shoes in the machine which has who entrances each with a different brush- one for the initial phase of brushing with a stiff brush, the second with a finer one for buffing up a glowing polish. But for some reason that glow doesn't stay for long. Perhaps had I trained in the Guards I'd know why: I'd be sure of the correct technique, which I think may have something to do with heating the polish a little before applying it, and then spitting on the shoe a good deal before polishing.

You can see the three generations of shoes in the photo: when I went to the shop last time and bought the newest pair the shop assistant exclaimed, "oh my God! They are like those shoes in old Italian films"- which delighted me: I love "Bicycle Thieves", even if I am not sure I want to be one of the characters in it.

I like these shoes because though they could certainly tell stories, having been been all over Europe and seen many things, they chose not too because they are stoical, they don't blab, they merely absorb experience: theirs will be the patient silent faces of photos by Dorotea Lange.

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