Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cobblers to the world

I don't suppose that shoemaking is quite immune to the recession, but it's not at the top of the list of industries clamouring for our money to prop up its business plan. After all, most cobblers went out of business decades ago.

And yet they're still out there. What high street doesn't have a shop advertising, among random other services, "shoe repair"?

Not ours, I'm delighted to say. This shop also offers to repair handbags and other random leatherware, but shoes feature prominently in its advertising, which is good. It's a lot of work to find a really comfortable pair of shoes, I'm glad there are still people out there who can extend their lifespan, and I was delighted, this morning, to have the chance to give them a bit of business.

"They're my wife's", I explained as I dumped the bag on the counter. Just in case they might be under any misapprehensions, you understand. Like any heterosexual male, I personally have never owned more than two pairs of shoes concurrently.

The cobbler was an elderly man - not perhaps old enough to be the Wandering Jew, but certainly old enough to remember a time when "service" wasn't a dirty word. He pulled out the shoes and examined them critically. Susan had helpfully tucked a note into the boot explaining what was wrong with them, but on examination it wasn't hard to see.

"Sandals - $30 to 40. It's fiddly, you see, taking the sole apart, you can never tell what's going to happen. The boot, that's easy - $20."

"Perfect", I replied. "I'm authorised to spend that much."

He grinned and gave me two tickets, stamped "THURSDAY" - which, after some thought and debate with his colleague, he crossed out and replaced with "MONDAY". "They're in good hands, sir," he assured me as I left the shop.

I'm not sure what it was that made me feel so good about this transaction. Perhaps it was the warm glow of repairing two of Susan's most-loved items of footwear. Perhaps it was the old-fashioned service ethic - the man was all but tugging his forelock as I left. Or the surprising sense of smugness from knowing that, once again, we were mending something rather than throwing it away. Whatever it was, it left me positively looking forward to visiting again.


Deadlyjelly said...

I was not aware there are people out there who can extend their lifespan. What I want to know is: HOW? I thought the secret of eternal life was still, well, secret :-D

Deadlyjelly said...

I don't intend to quiz you on every line of this post - although I can, if you'd like.

Here we go, this line: 'Like any heterosexual male, I personally have never owned more than two pairs of shoes concurrently.'

Surely you own several if not all of the following:-

* Wellingtons
* Walking/hiking shoes/boots
* Runners/trainers
* Brown shoes
* Black shoes
* Shiny shoes for penguin suit
* Some jandal style Kiwi artefact
* Slippers (you don't have to admit to these publicly)

Come on, admit it

Deadlyjelly said...

This post is fab, by the way. I like it, I like it a LOT

vet said...

Let's see, I own...
- One pair black DMs, which I wear for pretty much everything except when I'm barefoot
- One pair ropey jandals, which I haven't worn since my honeymoon because they're devastatingly uncomfortable

Technically, I guess I might also own a pair of walking boots, and a posh pair of shiny black shoes, but since I haven't seen either since I came to New Zealand, I'm honestly not sure they still exist.

Jeremy Stamper said...

As someone who throws his shoes away at the slightest sign of wear, the idea of shoe repair has always intrigued me. The exception are my duck "hunting" boots, to which I'm sentimentally attached.

vet said...

I generally wear my shoes until they're visibly falling apart, before getting a new pair. Several times, people I haven't seen for a long time have looked me over and asked: "Aren't your feet cold?"

The thought of repairing them - ooh, it's exciting...

Ruby Apolline said...

What a wonderful post. My local shoe repair shop has a gorgeous Weimaraner in residence called Major. I've not been in the store except to pet Major and suggest a subscription-based Major Fan Club to assist the business.