The 7 Left Shoes 1973 – 1978
Given the choice, l wouldn’t wear shoes if l could avoid it, and when l am not out and about l am mostly like now just bare footed. I don’t like socks either and if l do wear them then they must be comfortable, l mean sure no one likes socks that are uncomfortable, but l don’t like the stitching in socks and l know that many of the spectrum of autism are familiar with that phrase. This isn’t saying that no one else is not in the same boat, but with autism it usually centres around hypersensitivity issues and socks and shoes fall into that … well in truth a lot of clothing falls into that category, but this post is looking at issues l had with shoes and most notably between the years of 1973 to 1978.
These days l only have three pairs of shoes, four if you include my crocs, but they are mostly a sandal of sorts and l detest sandals but these are closed sandals rather than open to the world. Which is strange because when l was younger l really loved wearing my thongs [flip flops], but you wouldn’t catch me wearing flip-flops/sandals now and the only place l wear my crocs is in the garden.
My three pairs are a fancy pair of boots, like smart hikers, a pair of walking boots that look more like heavy duty sneakers and a pair sneakers that are actually called decks! I know and oh course l nearly forgot, how did l do that? But l have my trusted pair of Wellingtons and if honest l would wear those in replacement of all the other pairs of shoes and wannabee sandals.
I keep all my assortment of footwear in good condition, well hardly surprising, l don’t often wear them. You should hear Suze at times giving me a hard time because of the clothing she has got me over the years and l don’t really wear them, but l don’t wear them because l like the clothing l do wear because it is ‘worn in’ and awards me comfort. There are no scratchy labels, or crazy stitching in stupid places and it feels like a second skin, which is really what l want all my clothing to feel like.
Personally l could walk around starkers all day, however l am no longer the fit and buff 35 year old l used to be, and 20 years later, whilst not completely saggy or really that overweight, l am not in as great a shape as l was then, so to simply struff my stuff around the house and more so with all the windows we have, l might be reported for indecent behaviour by my neighbours.
I was ten years of age when my first left shoe went for a wander all by itself .. no it did, l mean don’t get me wrong, l was also in the same vicinity as the shoe, but it sort of sailed off in front of me and l had no real say in the matter! You see, it was 1973 and l was living in Australia and the family and l had gone to a safari fun park of sorts and there was this huge mud hole filled with water. I thought it was just an oversized puddle, because everywhere else was quite muddy. But it wasn’t, it was some kind of watering hole for beasts. i didn’t see any beasts, but that is what the ranger said.
I had rather clumsily walked into a pathway of mud and my horrible shoes, and yes they were horrible, they were ugly or what l might class now as simply fugly shoes. patent leather practically plastic and bright burgundy – yeah l know, you would want to lose them as well. But l was terrified that my Dad would slaughter me if he saw them dirty so l saw this hole and thought, “Okay, l will clean the mud off!”
Took off both shoes and placed them at the water edge, cleaned the mud off the right, looked around for my left and it had disappeared? Well l saw it, ahead of me about three foot, so l figured l could get a stick and hopefully bring it back to me. By the time l hobbled back with my stick, my shoe was now in the middle of the ‘puddle’. No problem l thought l will simply take off my socks and my right shoe and retrieve my left shoe!
So l started to wade in to the puddle which was a little surprising, as it was getting deeper and deeper with every step l took, so by the time l had got to my waist and now completely and utterly filfthy. I heard this man calling out to me to stop where l was. I turned around and saw this strange man and my parents and Sister looking at me?
I knew l was in trouble, but l had to get my left shoe back, so took another step and then the whole world went muddy! I popped back up and then saw the ranger coming out to me with an angry scowl on his face. My left shoe had sunk, completely into the so called watering hole which was supposed to be twenty odd feet deep! I suffered badly for my first left shoe loss! But l wasn’t really overly attached to it, quite literally!
The second left shoe was lost to a ricketty bridge in a park in Victoria, when Dad fell through the bridge , trying to get my left shoe out of the hole it found itself wedged into, he fell through the bridge to his knee and cut his leg and l lost my left shoe which fell to its death in the stream below, l never really liked it anyway, that was 1974!
1975 another fugly left shoe was lost to an overly amorous Emu in another park in Victoria, and Dad conceded that it was probably better off with the shoe than constantly attacking and pecking me. The shoe was never seen nor heard of again, but neither was the Emu?
Lost another in 1976, when l accidentally left it somewhere in a play park, but by this time my Mother rather cannily l thought had started printing labels into my shoes, and sadly it was returned to us!
They were convinced l was deliberately losing my left shoe, however l was pretty sure that l was suffering from some kind of left shoe curse! In 1976 we left Australia and sailed back to England and arrived in 1977, no shoes were lost during that journey! The reason being that my shoes were kept in my parents bedroom and they were constantly being watched. It was an opportunity missed, l say, surrounded by nothing but ocean and l was probably the only one on the ship that had double knotted laced shoes on his feet!
However 1977 and the year of The Human Trout, l lost three in 9 months! They had all been kindly donated to the River Conwy by yours truly.
I did try and tell them that not only did l hate both shoes on my feet at any one time, l actually hated the style that my Mother always picked for me! I wasn’t bothered about fashion, l just didn’t like clumpy uncomfortable shoes, in the colours she chose them. I was never allowed black smart shoes, but any other colour going, so l ended up with burgundy clumpies, blue mottled clumpies, green mottled clumpies, brown marled clumpies, maroon striped clumpies and some horrible looking brown old man clumpies, which was the last one l lost to my left foot in 1978!
But that really wan’t my fault! NO!
In 1978 l was at secondary school in Woking and my charming bully stole both shoes from me and threw them somewhere, l never knew where, because l was lying on the ground with a black eye and a bloodied nose!
Even under the threat of being expelled, the bully never broke his silence and l never got my shoes back, but from that year l was suddenly considered a responsble person and was allowed to buy my own shoes, pick them, try them on at my own leisure and pay for them. So l picked a lovely pair of dress styled black laced up shoes. They were awesome, they fit my foot like a glove, they were lovely to walk in. I could polish them with actual polish from the tin, and loved being brushed.
Soon l was the only kid in school with almost military precision polished footwear! From that day onwards l always looked after my footwear, and even today the shoes l do have are years old. I have picked them all and whilst l may still love even now, the easier going shoes which are my Wellingtons and my ‘sneakers’ or ‘decks’, they are all in excellent condition and have that worn in feeling which is what makes them ultra special to me.
But how about you? Did you ever have a love hate relationship with any item of clothing that you simply detested wearing and maybe even suffered with the ‘curse’of loss?