I bought a tin of polish this morning and what looked like a rectangular sponge with a hard-sponge backing to it. The sponge has a light plastic casing into which it fits, the way little plants you get in the garden centre have, and on the bottom of the casing it says ‘Cherry Blossom’. I took several minutes trying to twist the top off the tin of polish, even striking its edge sharply against the kitchen tiles. No success. Then I looked at what it said on the tin: ‘Press here to open’. I did and it opened immediately.
These days I hardly ever polish my shoes. At boarding school, when we came down to Mass in the morning ( you had to or else), the Dean would as often as not be standing outside the chapel, checking shoes. If your shoes weren’t properly polished, you got a hiding. So for six years I dutifully polished my shoes each night, putting a piece of brown paper under them to avoid smearing the floor. It was done with two brushes – one for polishing, one for shining. When you’d finished, you’d plug the bristles of one back into the bristles of the other. The theory was that after years of polishing in school, boys would make it a life-time habit. Hah. The minute I left, I stopped polishing. Why wear your chains when the lock’s been removed? Oddly, my shoes didn’t seem that much the worse for this neglect, except I went walking in a particularly mucky field.
Why am I doing it now? Because I read an article last week which said that men’s shoes are the first thing women look at and judge a man by. Mad, but there you have it. And admiration, even admiration which starts at my toes and stops at my ankles, brings out the best in me. I see a new dawn breaking for me as a tin of Cherry Blossom clears the horizon and drenches my life in shoe-fixated females.