Aged 60, I’m glad I don’t need my mum taking me shopping.
Aside from flirting with most shopkeepers along Balham High Road, mum would take me to buy clothes, get my haircut and purchase shoes.
Last week I was set to buy a pair of shoes and was reminded about the many pairs we’d buy in the Clark’s near Tooting Bec Station.
I loved the exact way they measured the length and width of your feet – one of the measuring instruments tickled; I can fully understand how people develop foot fetishes. I never did, as my mum told me this was a guaranteed way of catching Athlete’s Foot (or was it VD? Either way, it’s why she never made it to be Surgeon General).
The thing which most fascinated me about this shop was the pneumatic system which ferried money around . There was a complex system of tubing which went around the shop. Mum would buy my shoes (invariably brown sandals – how I was never bullied at school never ceases to amaze me) and in doing so handed over the money. This was placed in a tube and sent, ostensibly at twice the speed of sound, around the shop to a cashier, hidden from sight (probably had corns and therefore not a good advertisement for the shop). Any change, and a receipt, returned, as fast, through this magic system.
Last week I went to buy a pair of shoes (without my mum, I hasten to add). I found a pair I liked and asked, “Have you these in an eight?”
“I shall go and look,” replied the small, Scottish female assistant, who had the demeanour of having several unsatisfied customers out the back in a cauldron.
After a few minutes, she returned.
“We haven’t got these in an eight, but we have them in a seven-and-a-half?”
I can only assume she was expecting replies such as: “Oh, that’s fine, I was thinking of chopping half an inch of several toes” or “That’s OK, I never fully put my heel into the show anyway” or “Fantastic, that could immediately solve my verruca problem!”
I left the shop barefoot. It could have been worse, she could have replied: “An eight? I assume you have a small penis?”