Sunday, September 18, 2011

If the shoe fits, wear it. (Russian Proverb)

The last time I wore these shoes was in late July, 2001, at a ceremonial passing out parade at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, UK. I forget the guest of honour inspecting the young cadets, shortly to be commissioned naval officers. A Belgian royal I think, but it matters not. What mattered today was that for the first time in ten years I cleaned these shoes, buffing them until they gleamed, bulled the toe-caps, and wore them again. And how wonderfully comfortable they were!

The story of these shoes goes back a little further. They were one of three pairs of officers shoes issued to me in 1988 on joining the Royal Navy as the assistant chaplain in HMS RALEIGH, the place of entry and basic training for all ratings (US: Enlisted personnel.) I say three pairs. Two remain, and I must turn my attention, my polish, brushes and cloth to one other pair. The third pair, alas, is no longer in my possession. Together with sundry items of uniform, a camera, a radio and an inscribed Zippo lighter in a grip bag these shoes now live in the realm of Neptune at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea, following an incident during a helicopter transfer in 1992. Still, two out of three ain’t bad!


susan s. said...

That picture looks as if they are patent leather! But of course if you say you buffed and polished, then they must be un patent leather. What does "bulled" mean?

I'm glad they are comfortable. And I'm also glad that the 3rd pair were not attached to you as they fell into the Adriatic Sea!

Tim Lewis said...

Susan, the temporary picture is actually one from the web of US Navy shoes. Yes, patent leather. As we used to call them, "lazy shiners." Plus, no British officer would be seen dead, let alone buried in patent leather shoes.

Bulling is the military art of creating a mirror shine by using polish and spit on the cap of a shoes or boot.

susan s. said...

Oh, I think we call that "a spit and polish shine."

When my son got married in 2000, we went to the English Shoe store in downtown San Francisco to buy a pair of leather sole shoes. I can't remember the brand name, but the were definitely English shoes. He tried on several pairs and the ones he wanted were on sale for $100. I was ready to pay that. The salesman(who was not English) said "You know, I have one more pair he should try on. They are a little more expensive, but they are very comfortable and he could use them for years." So he brought them out, and Dave tried them on and the look on his face let me know that they were much more comfortable. I asked the price and he said they are on sale for $150 down from $400. So I said, "Well you only get married once, but you will be able to wear the shoes with your vestments when you are a priest." So the salesman entered the code into the register, and they rang up for $87.00 plus tax! I asked him if that was the correct price. He said, "I never question the register!" Well the shoes have lasted, even though the marriage didn't. He still wears them with his vestments on grand occasions! I think the company was sold to the Italians. I'm glad we got them before that!

You aren't going to believe this. . . The verification word is 'graysock.' Coincidence? I think not.