« The Key To Truth | Main | 24 - Keeping A Cautious Lookout »

Backwords: Shining Examples

ÖIn summer, every Friday evening included a half-hour session to put a new coat of whitening on cricket boots for the morrow.

You might as well look the part, even if you canít play it, was my fatherís motto, with which he continually bombarded meÖ

Mike Shaw is a shining example in care for his footwear.

One thing my parents drummed into me as a boy was to keep a shine on my shoes.

It was, I must say, an essential reminder as I regularly arrived home from school with footwear scuffed or mud-covered from impromptu dinnertime soccer.

But the same principle applied when it came to preparation for proper games of football.

A liberal helping of dubbin -- that waterproofing, Vaseline-like stuff which you could buy in those days from all good cobblerís shops -- was applied to football boots before every match.

In summer, every Friday evening included a half-hour session to put a new coat of whitening on cricket boots for the morrow.

You might as well look the part, even if you canít play it, was my fatherís motto with which he continually bombarded me.

It even extended to polishing the two or three inch gap between sole and heel on the underneath of my Sunday shoes.

But, for all this early education, I was still totally unprepared for the fanatical shoeshine regime imposed by National Service.

After having a pair of new black boots slung at us during the kit hand-out, it was made clear in no uncertain terms what was expected.

The sadistic drill instructors had a language of their own to convey briefly and bluntly -- often in words of four letters -- how our boots should look at inspection time.

In simple terms, it meant sheer spit and polish. But one wise old square- basher from another squad let us into a secret which helped speed up the process.

There was nothing like a red-hot poker for smoothing the leather on the toecaps before getting to work with Cherry Blossom and saliva.

Then it was merely a matter of time before a shine began to appear. And a good deal more time before it was good enough to satisfy the corporal.

How many ex-Servicemen, I wonder, have hung on to their days of spit and polish in civvy street?

Quite a few, perhaps. But there arenít as many leather shoes on the streets these days.

Iím just old enough to remember the days when Huddersfieldís Market Place had a shoeshine man.

Now they are an endangered species as trainers, sneakers and slip-ons become part of the wardrobe of males aged from eight to 80.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.