I’ll have to go shopping after all!
‘Hey there, where are you now? I need help. It’s an emergency!’
I groaned inwardly and wondered how to reply. Just over a year ago, R spent the night with me. And much of the next day. Despite being a lovely guy, he’s not the most interesting man in town, both in and out of bed. I knew that I’d bump into him at the pub again but was sure that there would be no repeat performance. But, hey ho, some weeks later, it happened again. And, that time, I resolved to keep away, life being too short and all that. Each time he suggested we meet up, I successfully put him off. But, some six or more months later, it happened again - he tricked himself into my bed.
Yes, I know that I’m a bit old to have that sort of thing happen to me but it did. R works in Nottingham but lives in Mansfield. He’ll often pop into the pub for a few pints before dashing off to catch his bus or train home. I’d seen and briefly chatted to him several times before it happened again. Unlike on previous occasions, this time he joined me and a group of friends. Just before closing time he turned to me and said, ‘Oh shit, I’ve missed the last bus. Can I stay at yours?’
I could have said no, of course, but that would have seemed churlish, my flat being a couple of minute’s walk away. ‘Sure,’ I said. And yet another boring night ensued.
So you can see why I hesitated before answering his message. But, resolving not to be manipulated into anything I didn’t want to do, I answered.
‘Still at the pub. If I can help, will do.’
‘My top button has broken. Can I borrow your belt?’
About 10 minutes later, he was back at the Lord Roberts. As soon as I saw him walk through the door, I stood up and removed my belt. He put it on. It was a swift ‘transaction’, probably unnoticed by most, but it must have been puzzling to those who saw it.
I saw him later at the club and he may have made some suggestion about returning to my place but I was too drunk to remember. Anyway, I went home with someone else instead. I got a message on the following Tuesday saying that he’d call to give me back my belt the next time he was at the pub.
As yet, I’ve not heard from him.
Not having that belt is a bit of an inconvenience. As with my shoe selection, I have two black belts and a brown one. One of the black belts, the one R borrowed, is identical to the brown one. It’s the one I usually wear, the other black belt being a narrow one that only really works with suit trousers.
Until he turns up with the belt, I don’t really have a black belt to wear. Not having a ‘proper’ black belt isn’t quite as bad as not having ‘proper’ black shoes, but I think I need to go buy another.
A familiar story, right?
After last week’s episode of discomfort brought on by crappy, cheap shoes, I said that I’d definitely go shopping for more black shoes over the weekend. Well, I didn’t. I meant to, I really did. Not only did I mean to, I actually looked forward to it. A rather unusual feeling for someone who tries his best to avoid the shops, especially at weekends. But, I forgot to factor in the effect of getting back by five year old Cats. Not quite as good as new, but nicely repaired.
When it comes to shopping, necessity and marketing are the parents of all those consumerist urges that keep the credit card companies happy. Not easily taken in by marketing, the reluctant shopper in me is happy to come from a single-parent family. Getting my old shoes back immediately got rid of necessity – a consumerist urge was effectively orphaned. Who would have thought that being orphaned could be so devoid of trauma?
While I managed to avoid shoe-shopping I’m pleased to say that I followed through with my intention of seeing 'The History Boys'. It’s really rather good and has a great cast with excellent performances from Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour. Some of the dialogue, however, especially in the classroom scenes, is very ‘stagy’. It suffers from that typical stage-to-film problem where every actor is seen to be saying a set-piece, all in turn. And while this review decided that the boys, all members of the original cast, looked just right after worrying that the boys would look too old when scrutinised in close-up, a couple of them definitely looked too old for the part.
I saw the film with a friend, Sir Check, and invited him round for a cup of tea at my place after the film. Usually, I’d have suggested we go to the pub for a drink but he’s one of those strange people who doesn’t drink. At some point, he asked about my shoe-shopping exhibition.
I explained how the safe return of my Cats had stopped it from happening. It was at that point that I decided to ensure that I’d never be given the opportunity of wearing those crappy, cheap shoes again.
‘Excuse me a minute,’ I said, walking swiftly to my bedroom where I picked up the offending shoes. A few seconds later I’d deposited them into the rubbish bin. I think he may have been surprised by my actions – after all, those shoes looked perfectly presentable.
So, it’s down to two pairs of shoes, black and brown, and two belts, black and brown. I mostly wear the black shoes but the brown ones are good enough to wear whenever I want. I mostly wear a black belt but the one I have now is no good at all for most pairs of trousers.
It seems like I’ll have to go shopping after all!