Wednesday, 15 February 2017

My life in shoes

My pain in shoes
I know the need for good shoes, well fitting shoes that last. As a child, I suffered from growth spurts, I grew out of my shoes long before I had worn them well.
In the time from the age of 10 when I shared the same shoe size with my mum to when I was 15, I took an extra shoe size for each birthday and my feet suffered for it.
Gifts of shoes where I was not at the fitting simply meant I had shoes that I forced my feet into and suffered painfully in the process. For a year, in secondary, I walked around barefooted, it was more comfortable than to be shod with horseshoes without the hoof.
Finding my comfort shoes
By 15, I was at 45-EU/11-UK and that was a tight fit, there was literally nothing bigger in the markets apart from a few unfashionable shoes. Sandals and slippers were my best bet for a comfortable fit. My feet stopped growing at 16, from then I have comfortably worn 46-EU/12-UK/13-US shoes, just in case you want to go shopping J
Once, my mum came upon a pair of shoes, at just the right size, 46-EU/12-UK, I plod the streets of Lagos with them and landed my first breakthrough job opportunity with a good sense of knowing I was the best person to represent myself anywhere. Then, a friend’s brother who was a shoemaker artisan made my shoes just before I left Nigeria. I had penny loafers, tennis shoes, and slip-ons at my disposal.
In the UK, most shops stocked a maximum size of 45-EU/11-UK, on that rare occasion, you find a couple of sizes larger, or rather, should I say longer, because there is a difference between ‘big feet’ and ‘long feet’; mine are long.
My cave of shoes
Going on Christmas holidays to Lancashire presented an opportunity when we went shopping at the K-Shoes factory shop (now defunct). They had shelves of all sizes and designs up to size 45-EU/11-UK and then probably 30 pairs of shoes altogether for people like me with longer or bigger feet. In all, maybe 3 in my size had a design worthy of giving a second look, I got them all.
At one time, I probably had over 40 pairs of shoes, not out of acquisitive hedonism but for the reason that anything fashionable of my size was just a rare commodity, you could not pass up on seeing something good, even if it was not immediately needed.
Eventually, I gave most of them away, I discovered Doc Martens boots and when my feet began to rot away because of a fungating tumour, a pair of monk shoes from the British Boot Company kept my feet together until the tumours healed.
My peace with shoes
Now, I found out about an online store Samuel Windsor from my The Week Magazine subscription, shoes hand-made in England of the highest quality and at amazingly affordable prices. Obviously, at such prices, you probably would not be disposed to repairing the shoes if, by comparison, you could replace a pair of shoes by the time you visited a shoemaker’s the third time.
When travelling from Johannesburg to Cape Town, I was accosted by a shoe shiner who on starting on my shoes commented glowingly about the quality and style of my shoes, suggesting he rarely sees shoes of that standard. He would know and I was proud to say, they were made in England and did not cost an arm and a leg.
I do not shop anywhere else for my shoes and as long as I have them delivered to my office, I have nothing to complain about the service. I know the value and comfort of good shoes, I suffered enough growing to know that you don’t spare a dime in search of comfort, style, quality, and affordability.


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