Short one today. Just trying to keep my blog post count up for the month.
Though, to be fair, I really haven’t done too badly. And, I feel like the posts I have put up have been high quality work. And, its all about the quality, really, isn’t it? Not the quantity? Well, it certainly has been this month.
Anyway, this is a cheeky little post and probs not going to be my most insightful work, but I feel so passionately about the topic, I decided I needed to write about it.
It’s about shoes. And, to be a specific, a very particular type of shoe: the Doc Marten.
The Doc Marten, for me, has always had a bit of mythology around it. I can remember, very clearly, being in a shoe shop buying school shoes at around 12 years old and my Dad telling me that ‘when my feet stopped growing,’ we should probably buy me a pair of Doc Martens. I don’t know why this memory has stuck with me so clearly. I think I was kind of excited about the idea of my feet finishing their growing (I guess that would mean I was grown up). I think I was kind of excited by the idea of owning a pair of slightly dangerous, slightly badass-looking shoes. They certainly didn’t look like the kind of shoes a very good, blonde, blue-eyed girl who always did her homework and didn’t like the teachers to yell at her, would own. They looked like they might actually be cool.
As I grew up and kind of got used to my image as a wholesome Swiss milkmaid who spends her days yodelling through the green, verdant valleys of clover and edelweiss (I’m not saying this is who I was, I’m just saying this is how people appeared to think of me), I found myself less enamoured with the idea of the Doc Marten. A Doc Marten wouldn’t appear to assist with skipping and frolicking. A Doc Marten wouldn’t appear to compliment a white floaty skirt and pink cotton top. A Doc Marten was ridiculously expensive and I had an aversion to buying apparel that cost more than a single digit. A Doc Marten wouldn’t appear to suit me at all.
When I first moved to Ireland, I bought some brown boots, which were intended as hiking boots (back when I thought I was going to work for 6 months, spend the rest travelling and then head home). By the time I got to London, these were fairly useless. Not least of all because of the amount of nails I had stepped on in the building of ‘Hungry Tea’ and ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’. Nails that went straight through the rubber sole of my shoe and found my little toes. No piercing of toes was involved; however, in countries that are known for their wet weather, the last thing you want to own is a pair of boots with several sizeable holes in the soles.
So, around September, on the first very rainy day we had, I went into Oxford Circus to try and find a decent pair of flat, black shoes. All my pairs of flat shoes had died, and I had been attempting to exist in a pair of 3 pound thongs bought as an emergency when out in Hyde Park and decorated with the Union Jack. But, H&M had no sensible Mary-Jane flats. I searched the store high and low and just as I was about to give up and buy a pair of cheap tennis shoes (knowing they weren’t going to be useful for anything), I spied some shiny, imitation Doc Martens. I considered for a while. They weren’t really my style, but I could still probably use them under pants during winter without too much trouble. I bought them.
Within a day or two, I was a convert to the boots. Ridiculously comfortable and incredibly efficient at keeping out the rain, I quickly forgot I had other shoes. Outfits were designed around the shoes, not the other way round. People told me how ‘London’ I looked. I was delighted with myself.
However, then I started work and realised after a weekend that my cheap H&M boots were not going to last the distance. Hot water or hot oil or both soon made the shiny surface of the shoes pucker up in odd ways. Flour got spilt on the cracks and made them even weirder. The soles of the shoes didn’t have enough grip and when the floor was wet at work, I’d have to take tiny little fast steps to avoid slipping.
I came to the conclusion that it was time to invest in a proper pair of Docs.
It has been 4 months now since I bought my first pair of Docs and I think it is safe to say that far from being a convert, I am a fanatic. I don’t actually understand why anyone would buy any other shoes. I can’t imagine there being any need for another pair of shoes. I had a strange realisation the other day that all my Australian friends have been moaning and groaning about the weather, about how cold it is, about the rain and how they wish they were home or can’t wait to be home. I was surprised, because I haven’t felt grumpy at all. That is a strange contrast to last year, when I was miserable for most of January and February, even though last year was a milder winter. Like any true fanatic, I have placed all the credit and praise on one place: my Doc Martens. I can walk through anything, on anything and know that I’m not going to end up with cold feet or wet feet or sore feet. And I also know that my Doc Martens are up to the task. They’re not going to fall apart because of a little rain, a little snow. They’re tough, my shoes. They’re hard-working. I don’t have to walk down the street feeling stressed, anxiously avoiding puddles, or picking safe paths. I can just walk. There was a difficult early period when the shoes insisted on ripping through the back of my ankles anytime I wore them for longer than 10 minutes, but with a little time, some patience and a whole heap of blister pads we got through it. I’ve even recently been assured by a good friend that Docs look good with dresses and skirts, so I’m all set. There is no need to ever buy another pair of shoes. Because, after 28 years, I’ve finally found the shoes for me.