At university, I was a keen supporter of charity shops but not for philanthropic reasons. Just that I was skint and I needed clobber and no matter how musty or ill-fitting. I don’t even recall ever considering the origins of such wares. That I was often wearing clothes of men who had died. Donated by their wives or mothers because they needed to move on and for practical reasons also. That it is infinitely better that clothes are re-used and not left to rot in landfill.
But never shoes though.
I’ve never worn a pair of second hand shoes. Maybe because it feels too personal and even intrusive to wear someone else’s shoes. To feel the gnarls of their feet and how they had made each shoe their own and have somehow left their presence?
Until recently that is and it brings to mind the phrase…
Dead Man’s Shoes.
It’s a stark expression. I think of the harrowing piles of shoes at Auschwitz and at the Imperial War Museum in London. And I’m reminded of the excellent film, starring Paddy Consadine. I met Paddy once on a TV show and I was struck by how refreshingly meek and modest he was.
To digress a moment to explain that September 3rd is an important date in my calendar each year but particularly so this year. Because as well as being Nikki’s birthday, it also happened to be her parents 65th wedding anniversary. Bob and Tina Frost – Leicester’s first couple – and what I love most about their landmark is that neither of them even knew and had to be reminded.
‘Is it? Blimey. Quick, put the kettle on!’
An important date then – 3rd September – and peculiar this year because Nikki and I were apart.
Nikki was in Manchester accompanying Paddy for filming on the TV show he is cast in and I am not (in-joke here for my regular readers). Because of Covid, the cast needed to be hermetically sealed in a ‘bubble’ with strictly no visitors permitted.
So this year, on Nikki’s birthday, I found myself in Wales with a bunch of buddies – eight lads all looking for scant evidence that we can play golf.
Just for fun but being blokes, it is highly competitive. Each of us wanted to play well. Ideally to win and at worst, not to finish last.
September 3rd was Day Two 2 of our three day Championship and the rain is hard and unrelenting. But this should surprise no one. If a country is going to be as beautiful and as green as Wales, it follows that plenty of water is needed.
Which is how I found myself in a pair of second hand golf shoes – Foot Joys no less, and with good reason.
They are waterproof, even calling themselves Dry Joys. A neat play on their brand name and the joy that is dry feet. Let’s see if they can keep me dry in Wales?
Foot Joys are a prestigious brand and are reassuringly expensive. But these shoes have cost me nix. Given to me by their previous owner – my late dad.
When I say given to me; I don’t mean that they were left to me in his will. But given to me by his wife (my mum) after yet another rummage through their garage.
Dead man’s shoes then: they allow me a special connection to a man I loved whilst playing a game that I love.
My dad was not a good golfer and like father like…
But golf is relative.
The most difficult game of all. A small ball over long distances and with the vagaries of the elements and the nuances of the land. A game that will never be vanquished by any golfer, but still, it concedes little victories for players to enjoy and pin their hopes to.
And so it was for me on the this special day – 3rd Sept 2020 as I won the days match – accumulating the most points in our motley party.
And whilst enjoying my best round in some time – it transpired that my dad’s shoes are not waterproof after all. No disrespect to Foot Joys. It might well that they’re just too old to keep the water at bay anymore. This was Wales after all.
But here’s the point.
My sodden feet could not dampen my spirits. To play great golf (relative) in my dad’s shoes on my wife’s birthday and her parents extraordinary landmark was a beautiful thing.
And finally… a man like me with my muscular social media platforms (courtesy of my boys, I know) and with my popular blog, cynics might accuse me of writing this post to hustle myself some free shoes.
This is incorrect.
I am in no hurry to replace these shoes. They might let in the water but they remind me of my dad and that’s a great reason to keep them.