Today was ‘new shoes’ day.
Powered through 4 different shops in the main mall of the local metropolis that is Milton Keynes, time check, 4pm, hastening to beat the 5pm Sunday closing time.
First shop, Clarks at the John Lewis end, found a pair which sort of fit but not perfectly. The sales bod nodded wisely and reminded me that of course, being leather, the shoes will loosen up and fit better after a bit of wear. Having been round the metaphorical shoe-buying block a few times, I knew this to be utter tosh, and duly did not say so to his face.
2 more shops, and 4 more pairs of shoes which sort of fit but not perfectly.
Finally, all the way down the far end of the mall, the last shop, of course one of the more expensive ones.
A slow scan of the choices available, the nearest sales bod getting edgy as 5pm loomed large. A smile which flickered between hope and despair as I asked to try on these in size 9.5. “We only do whole sizes”. “Oh, better try the 9s and the 10s then”. The smile remained in place, but terribly brittle, and the eyes gave away it wasn’t sincere. Shoes arrived, the 9s fit well, the best of the day, but not perfectly.
“It is my experience”, I stated, a frown indicating to the onlooking trained eyes that these were not the ones, the smile faded to almost but not quite nothing, “that either the shoes fit perfectly from the very start or they never will”. “Oh yes”, gushed the sales bod, 5pm now in the past, all hope of an early exit crushed, a kind of giddy to-hell-with-it attitude kicking in, “they need to fit straight away. The leather will only stretch if it is under significant pressure”. And just like that, decades of lies by shoe bods laid bare by that one careless statement.
The final pair of shoes beckoned in this at-last-the-truth world. Inserting my sweaty 9.5s into the size 10s, a choir of angels appeared and as one chimed “hmmmmm”. The sale was completed speedily, no effort made to add polishes or nourishing creams to the bill.
Exited the shop at 5.10, new shoes in hand.
(from Fragments of writing)
by Chris Gathercole
published: 23 January 2017
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