AS IN: THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR In an effort to begin to take better care of the boots I do have, rather than daydreaming about new ones, or worse, actively spending the money on yet another pair of boots, I decided to drop them in to the cobblers to get them spruced up and mended.

The toes are peeling back from the sole, exactly as they do in Warner Bros. cartoons when Bugs has walked and walked walked in the desert, or whichever character wears shoes. Elmer, maybe.

Off I went, on a gorgeous long walk in the sunshine [!], down along the bay and into what counts for civilisation in these parts, that is, the beginnings of rows of shops. There is a shoe man who also cuts keys; it’s not my favourite thing, to patronise multi-taskers of this stripe, but I really didn’t want to go all the way into town.

Now, I’ve already had an unhappy experience in this place, in that he didn’t do what I wanted him to do, which seemed, to me, to be a simple thing to do: I have this kickin’ pair of black patent leather pointy boots, and I needed to have the pull-up-the-zipper thingie replaced on the left boot. It’s kind of a drag to do them up, and then down again, with a set of pliers.

He said the entire zipper would have to be replaced, and that he couldn’t do it, or if he did it would be very dear, or some such rubbish, and I left, disbelieving and annoyed.

But here I was again — I really, really didn’t want to have to go all the way to town — and I withdrew my riding boots from my bag, and explained that the toes were coming apart from the sole —

‘You’re going to have to clean these.’

Uh, what?

“Clean them. We can’t clean them.’

But I would have though that that was actually part of the service—

‘Oh, no, no, no—’

Have you a hose?

And I took my boots back and left the shop.

I don’t know of many shoe repair places that don’t often find, in the course of their duties, that it is required that shoes be cleaned and polished. And before you start conjuring up the wrong mental image, it’s not as if the boots were their own size again in muck: there was a scrap of dried mud on the sides of the heels, and a bit of straw and mud in between the toes and the soles. So, maybe I should have cleaned them myself, but, again, I really thought they’d consider that their job.

Went into town. Dude in the shoe place at the bottom Georges Street, the king of all he surveys, took them without a blink, although he did warn me that they probably wouldn’t stay repaired for long, that once they got wet again, the toes may recommence their separation from the bottom of the boot.

I didn’t care. It’s only going to cost four quid. And he didn’t bat an eye. And I’m never going to go to anyone but him every again. I’m going to ask him about that zipper yoke. I bet he can fix it.

Unless I can think of some truly elaborate and ridiculous shoe problem, with which to torment him, I’m never going to the local guy again. Pity, as I’m keener then ever to support local business in these trying times, but if the businesses aren’t actually interested in doing business, then there’s nothing I can do.

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