As I enter the church, I notice the lace of my right shoe has somehow come undone. In my pew I lean down to retie it and notice a small blob of white cream where the toecap meets the binding. Why hadn’t I noticed it when I put my shoes on? Because the act of lacing the shoe caused my hand to blind my view? Perhaps. It seems unlikely but I have no other explanation.
I know they make shoe creams in one-fits-all varieties these days and white is a common colour, but I don’t use them. The shoes I wear today are brown and I polish them with brown shoe polish. So what foreign substance is marring my highly polished brogues? I waggle my foot and point to it for my wife to see.
‘Any idea where that blasted cream came from?’
‘Sorry, dear, I didn’t bring a microscope with me – too big for my handbag. What cream?’
I waggle again and move the tip of my finger closer to the offending blob. ‘There, right-hand side where the top cap meets the binding.’
‘If you say it’s there, then I’m sure it must be, but I can’t see it. Sorry darling.’
I’d forgotten it’s more fashionable to be blind than to wear spectacles.
The choir starts with Hallelujah for The Cross, and I know to let things go for a while. It is a vexing puzzle, but one I will have to investigate after the service. I use the corner of my handkerchief to capture the blob, then wipe the surrounding area clean. I look for somewhere to dispose of the soiled material but find nothing. I carefully fold the fabric and put it in my pocket.
After a greeting and a couple of prayers, the choir sings, Shouting Shoes and remind me of my predicament.
Following the sermon, the choir launches into Moses, Take off Your Shoes and I decide not to contribute too much to the collection tray. I wonder about a God who has such hymns in his honour.
Back at home, I go straight to my shoe drawer – the compartment where I keep my polishes, brushes and cloths. And there it is, the object of my morning’s disarray. A tube of the new-fangled white shoe cream. Whomever had used it had done so without care or discipline. The tube is squeezed in its middle and seemingly writhing in agony. There is clotted waste at its top and it must have been from there that my shoe picked up the offending blob. Why hadn’t I noticed the tube before? Ahh. Because Tuesday had been my birthday and my young son, caring and dutiful boy had volunteered to clean my shoes. He presented his finished work last night. God, he, or she, who likes to be worshipped with hymns that dwell on shoes, should bless the lad. I put the tube of cream back in the drawer and my soiled handkerchief in the waste bin. Tomorrow, I shall teach my beloved son how to squeeze a tube from the bottom.