It's Theme Thursday again and this week the theme is "shoe". In working out how to interpret the theme I came up with three ideas but couldn't decide between them. So I have finished up with three shoes all walking in different directions! Story of my life really.
Shoe 1 : Cordwainers
If you search through the lists of London Livery Companies you will not find any cobblers. Nor will you find any bootmakers or shoe repairers. You will find worshipful companies of apothecaries, blacksmiths, carpenters and fishmongers. You will even find fan makers, bowyers, girdlers and skinners. So what have feet done wrong? Do feet smell too much to have a guild and a guildhall? Do the pewterers, plumbers and patternmakers refuse to sit down with a trade that is more at home in the gutter, or at least on the neighbouring pavement?
The answer is more prosaic : you are simply looking for the wrong trade. You should be searching for the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. According to the splendid little website of the Cordwainers' Company, the word ‘cordwainer’ comes from the ancient Spanish leather centre of Cordoba where the Arabs used an alum dressing process on goatskin to produce a fine white leather that became known as ‘cordovan’ or ‘cordwain’. So the chap who makes your shoes is not a cobbler. The kids who sew your trainers in far off China are not shoemakers. They are all cordwainers. You do discover some interesting things on Theme Thursday don't you!
Shoe 2 : The Shoe Store
One of the most difficult things about shoes is storing the blasted things. If your house is anything like ours, the floors tend to be littered with stray shoes, sometimes in pairs, sometimes divorced from their "sole-mate". Occasionally they will get gathered up and thrown into a cupboard or hidden below the staircase. But then you can't find your best leather brogues or your trusty comfy trainers. What is needed is a shoe storage system : a filing cabinet for the feet.
I was having these strange thoughts the other day when all of a sudden I spotted an advert in the back of the Guardian Magazine. Available from a firm called Tszuji which, believe it or not, specialises in shoe storage solutions, the Shoe Wheel "spins free from the traditional shoe rack" and provides an "ingeniously designed mobile shoe storage unit". I immediately desired one but was slightly put off by the price (£65!). However, if my wife ever gets around to reading this perhaps she could make a note as there are now only 156 shopping days until Christmas.
Shoe 3 : Walkin' Shoes
I have to confess that the first thing that came to mind when I saw the theme for this week was Gerry Mulligan's recording of the tune "Walking Shoes". There is an excellent clip of Mulligan, Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer playing it at a concert in Rome in 1956. As I try to walk away in my three different shoes in three different directions, I will leave you with Gerry Mulligan and the rest doing the same thing much more stylishly.