A couple of weeks ago I went to the Bike Show (or, more properly, Motorcycle Live 2012) at the NEC in Birmingham. This is a great day out, but means that you are on your feet all day as you traipse around drooling over a wide variety of motorcycles that you would love to own but are unlikely to ever afford.
Good, stout footwear is therefore the order of the day, so naturally I turned to my trusty Cats.
By Cats, clearly I am talking about my Caterpillar boots: I would look silly walking around with a couple of moggies on my feet.
However, on this occasion, my trusty Cats turned out to be not so trusty. Over recent weeks I had noticed that the chunky, rugged soles were beginning to split away from the boot. Still, it wasn’t too bad; nothing to worry about.
Well, nothing to worry about until it is! To my dismay, towards the end of the day roaming around the NEC, the heel of my left boot came away. As I walked it flapped and flipped away in a most irritating manner. This didn’t last long however, because within a few minutes practically the whole sole came away: it was now held on by just a small section at the toe. I was reduced to walking in a strange shuffling limp, allowing me to slide my left foot along to prevent the last inch of grip giving way.
This caused much amusement among my friends, some of whom accused me of being overly parsimonious with my money – or, to put it in their more succinct words: tight.
Whilst they may have a point, in this instance it was not the case. I have owned this pair of Cats for more than ten years and have become very attached to them. Oh, we had a bit of a troubled start: for the first few months they were distinctly uncomfortable, rebelling against being forced to transport me around by rubbing all of the skin off my feet. But eventually we got through this rocky patch and came to an understanding: soon they were as comfortable as slippers.
Over the years since then they have become battered and worn: a little tatty maybe, but I like to think of them as ‘broken in’. They have never had so much as a polish, but have never let me down by so much as a broken shoelace – until now.
Clearly you do not reward such loyalty by casually discarding them at the first sign of trouble. No, these Cats were going to be repaired.
Luckily my local Sainsbury’s in Barnwood has a Timpson’s in store, which, amongst other things, does shoe repairs. So I took my boots in when I next went shopping. The lady behind the counter looked at them with some disdain, but said the chap would have a go at them and he usually charged seven pounds. Very reasonable I thought.
The following day, as instructed, I returned to collect. The man behind the counter was very apologetic, but they weren’t ready. “I’ve tried three times” he said, “but they just won’t stick. Can you leave them with me? I’ll try some different glue.” And so I did.
Some days later I returned again, and he recognised me: “Ah, the boots,” he said darkly, reaching to fish the bag from the rack behind him. “I think I’ve finally got them stuck down, but I don’t know how long they’ll last.”
He passed them over and I inspected them. They looked fine to me; I was delighted to have my boots back in working order. I made to gratefully hand over my cash, but he waved me away: “don’t worry about it,” he said.
I’m not sure whether this act of generosity was because he assumed that anyone getting such an old pair of boots repaired must be skint, or whether he didn’t want to charge for a job he couldn’t guarantee, but either way I thought it was very generous of him, especially given the trouble they had obviously caused.
So, the moral of this story: if you want some boots that are going to last, buy Cats; and when they finally do wear out, get them fixed at Timpson’s.