Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Here we go again....
BOVVER BOOTS: Part 1
The boots caught my eye as I hurried home from work on Friday evening. They were standing neatly side by side in the window of Cathy's Cast-Offs; the second-hand shop on the corner of Quarry Road. Black leather Doctor Martens: toes slightly scuffed, laces frayed at the ends. Ordinarily I wouldn't have noticed them, because ordinarily I wouldn't have been walking home along this particular side-street. But tonight I had been held up at work, and Quarry Road was my quickest route home. Maeve hated me being late in for my evening meal, and I didn't want to experience the Wrath of Maeve...oh no.
I usually avoided Quarry Road like the plague. It was a narrow dismal street lined with narrow dismal houses, the doors of which opened directly onto the pavement. The only two shops were Cathy's Cast-Offs as you entered the road, and a seedy-looking Chinese take-away about halfway down.
Usually I took the 'scenic' route home: up Mustard Hill, along Jackson Avenue, and out onto the old railway embankment road. But that took almost thirty minutes of my time, so tonight, running late as I was, I opted for Quarry Road. I was more daunted by the thought of my wife's anger than I was by the prospect of venturing into the gloomy side-street.
As I walked passed the second-hand shop I glanced at my reflection in the window. A slightly over-weight, grey-haired, middle-aged man looked back at me. He'd been looking back at me for years now, following me faithfully from shop window to shop window, studying me intently with his serious dark eyes. I'm not altogether sure what he'd done with the carefree young man that used to shadow me. Taken him hostage no doubt...he looked the sort.
The middle-aged man grinned back, and through my own ghostlike reflection the boots swam into focus.
I stepped nearer the glass.
I could remember a time when all I had worn were Doc Martens; polished 'til they gleamed. Of course that was in the good ole days, the days before I had met Maeve. She had soon weaned me away from 'those great clod-hopping things'.
Now I wore sensible shoes. Black lace up shoes. Grown-up people's shoes.
A sudden wave of nostalgia swept over me, so powerful it brought a salty lump to my throat.
I had loved my Doc Martens...how sad was that?
I turned away from the shop-front to resume my walk home but had taken no more than two or three steps when something, some impulse, made me look back over my shoulder. Back towards the window.
The boots were staring at me.
I narrowed my eyes.
Don't be so stupid, I reasoned with myself. Boots can't see, let only stare.
But the more I looked at the boots, the more they seemed to be scrutinising me. Mocking me from behind the safety of the fly-specked glass.
Come and buy us, they seemed to whisper. You know you want to.
Did I?...Did I want to buy them?
My frown disappeared as I grinned.
Of course I did. I could imagine myself sneaking the boots home in a brown paper bag, hiding them deep in the darkness at the very back of my wardrobe, putting them on when Maeve was out. Clod-hopping around the house to my heart's delight.
And why shouldn't I? I was forty-eight years old for Christ's sake. Surely I was entitled to buy a pair of second-hand boots if I wanted to...without having to hide them in the wardrobe.
My grin widened to almost manic proportions as I marched up to the door of Cathy's Cast-Offs and grasped the handle.
TO BE CONTINUED.....