Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Old Brown Shoes

Many years ago, whilst I was at university, a group of us entered a match racing competition in the Solent. With all the excitement that the prospect of sailing on big boats brought to my fellow students it wasn't long before someone brought up the subject of spending some money so they might look the part. But hey, we were students; so the most this really was ever going to amount to was some snazzy footwear.

It was with a hint of the juvenile curmudgeon that I said I would not be wasting my money on posh wellies, let alone water proofs until, at the very least; I had a boat upon which to wear them. When the week came I made a point of being barefooted as I danced around; very much the foredeck elephant ballerina.

Several boats on, I find that the boot is somewhat on the other foot. I'd really consider buying some sensible footwear and decent oily's. Its just that with so many other things to spend money on, they seem to be relegated to the; 'for another time' list.

I do make a yearly donation to the 'looking the part' bit by purchasing a new pair of; soon to be old, brown deck shoes. They usually make it a year and a half before the worn out sole drops off, or the stitching on the bottom tears through the rotted leather and my foot slides out. When they're new, I occasionally wear them to the schools I work in. For a brief period a couple of years ago, they were considered en vogue, as a number of pupils pointed out. I like to think I played my small part in reversing this fad; a scruffy supply teacher in deck shoes and a woolen tie; it's not really quite how the youth of today interpret fashion.

Some people do get funny about footwear on boats. I did my yachtmaster instructor course a couple of years ago. The sun was shinning and my deck shoes were banished to a locker; no point of wearing them out prematurely I thought. All was well, but as the day came closer for our final assessment, the instructors' instructor pulled me aside and said, 'better wear your shoes tomorrow Duncan, the chap assessing you is bit funny about footwear on boats.' So I did, and passed. Funny to think that wearing my scruffy old deck shoes actually helped me become a yachtmaster instructor. Puts me in mind of Groucho Marks' thoughts on clubs...

All this is at the forefront of my mind as the nights draw in and gales proliferate. My current deck shoes might make it a bit longer, but the right foot shoe is on its last legs, of course I have got one shoe of the previous pair left, but I'm not sure if its for the left or right foot.

I remember an adage from my Dad. Actually come to think of it, it's probably what my mother says of my dad and his choice of footwear for when the weather turns nasty when sailing. 'When its cold, wet and rainy the best footwear you can hope to have on are your slippers.' Its dark and drizzling out side. But it's OK; I’m inside, staying dry with my slippers on.

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