Footing the bill for new shoes

Footing the bill for new shoes

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Sneakers on the floor

Though this column tried to avoid controversy, there’s no getting round it: we need to talk about footwear.

I’m minded to witter thus by an impending birthday. Pressed to declare a desired gift, I could think of nothing beyond a pie or a sausage roll, preferably vegetarian, though I’m not overly bothered.

Told to be more ambitious, I racked my brain, which led to me picking at my ragged training shoe, whereupon half the sole came away in my hand.

“Ah-ha! Trainers!” said my would-be donor. “Perfect! What sort do you want? The same type again?”

“Eh?” “Look at the state of them. Falling apart.”

“How long you had them?”

“Just seven or eight years.”

After a failed attempt to lure me to the Nike shop – a brief glimpse of the prices had caused me to faint clean away – I was enjoined to select shoes online swiftly, so we could return them, as would seem inevitable.

So, after a week online, my brain is fried and I am no further forward. Endeavouring to keep the cost down wasn’t so bad. You can find footwear made from recycled bin bags if you look hard enough.

It’s these wretched reviews. I’ve just read three reviews of one product. One says it runs small, the other says it runs large, and the third says it is true to size. Others just make things worse. Too narrow, says one. Too wide, the next. Top quality, says another. Fell apart, says someone else.

This is what happens when you involve the public in anything. Some reviews just say, “Thanks”, or “The packaging made me cry with delight”. You really want to give such people a shake. It’s worse with books: “I haven’t read this yet so I’m just giving it two stars.”

There’s also the problem with size in footwear. I have 9s, 9½, 10s in different pairs that fit. Someone really needs to take control of the situation.

Apart from all that, I’m not really a trainers person. In the street, they make you look common. Once, going to the gym in my trainers and tracksuit trousers, some neds, seeing my beard and dignified bearing, shouted: “Chav!”

I still detect people tittering and fume to myself: “Don’t they know that I’m going to the gymnasium, and not to Lidl?”

Och, who cares? I’ve been to Lidl several times anyway and, contrary to the “surprisingly good” urban myth, always come away empty-handed. The prices aren’t so different from my usual supermarket.

No, when I’m in training shoes these days, it’s only to go to my classes, where I take them off and practise barefoot.

I’m really your man for ankle boots. I bought a pair of Clark’s online recently (half the price of anything they had in the shop), and they didn’t fit. To complicate matters, they wouldn’t take returns, but said I had to take them to the nearest shop, get a refund there, then order online again. What a palaver.

Still, when they did arrive and fitted properly, they were fab (with orthotics). But this trainers business is getting me down.

So many colours, so many sizes, so many contrary reviews. I wish people would realise that I’m being serious when I ask for a pie or sausage roll.