Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The things boys do

It was another fine spring-like day today, and since it's still in the Easter school holidays I could hear some of the kids playing in the street outside. The next door neighbours must have had their grandson round, because I could hear the clippity-clop sound he always makes, walking up and down their garden path wearing his mother's high-heeled shoes, which as he's only about five are miles too big for him. I've seen videos of other kids doing just the same: it's obviously something small boys like to do, and I daresay I may have done the same at his age, although if I did I honestly don't remember it.

On the other hand, I do remember one boiling hot summer's day when I was eight going on nine, putting on my father's big hobnailed army boots and sitting around in my bedroom in them: I must have been absolutely roasted! My mother came in, took a horrified look and told me to take them off, thinking I'd gone mad. I escaped getting punished for it, and I never did find out whether she told my father what I'd done.

When I was eleven I went one better! On the top floor of the rambling old house we lived in there was a boxroom in which I discovered one day two pairs of my father's old army motorcycle boots. I put on the black ones which were a size 7, so they weren't that much too big for me, and I loved the way the thick leather came all the way up my legs to my knees. I had a playroom in the room just next door, and I used to wear these boots undisturbed for many a happy hour up there - undiscovered but with the thrill of doing something naughty. I don't know what happened to them, but one day when I went to look, they weren't there anymore. I guess my father must've had a clear-out or something.

That put paid to my boot wearing activities for a while. We weren't allowed to wear boots to school, so I knew my mother wouldn't buy me any of my own, and I could hardly ask her given the reason I wanted them! So I had to wait until I'd grown up, had my own money and could buy what I wanted with it. In fact, by one of odd those quirks of fate, I got a motorbike in 1979 and thus got a pair of motorcycle boots of my very own after all. Not only that, for most of my adult life, I've worn boots of one sort or another: even now I tend to wear them in preference to shoes most of the time.

I can certainly trace it all back to that hot day as a boy when I tried my father's on, but I can't help feeling there may be something even further back, earlier in my childhood, buried deep in my subconscious, for boots to have held such an attraction and fascination for me all these years.

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