Tuesday 19 March 2024

Mr Morton’s New Pair of Shoes by Leonie Jarrett, A strong cup of English breakfast tea. With milk and two sugars.

Mr. Morton needed a new pair of shoes. He had asked Charlie, the local shoe repairman, to mend the soles one more time but Charlie had said the shoes were no longer repairable. Mr Morton, Bob to his friends, loved those black, lace up shoes and he hated wastage. He knew that younger people had a different view, a more disposable attitude to shoes (and many other things too). Bob was not like that. Bob knew the value of a dollar.


Bob wore those unrepairable black lace ups everywhere. Well, outside everywhere anyway. He had brown slippers for inside. Glenis, his Wife, had drilled into him that you had “inside” shoes and “outside” shoes. His inside shoes were perfectly serviceable but the outside ones were dead according to Charlie. So, it was time to buy a new pair of shoes.


The problem was that Bob didn’t quite know how to go about buying a new pair of shoes. You see, he had never bought himself a pair of shoes. When he was a child, his mother had taken him to the shoe shop. He had sat on a pretend train and put his foot in a steel, grey contraption. The shoe shop assistant had decided what size he needed and his mother had decided on the style and colour. Bob had loved those shoe shop excursions. If he was especially lucky, his mother had taken Bob on his own without his younger brother and taken him out for a milkshake afterwards.


Bob had left home when he married at 22 and his Wife, Glenis, had taken over the shoe buying. In fact, she’d taken over everything his Mother used to do. Bob liked it that way. Old-fashioned yes but it had worked for him and Glenis. They were happily married for over sixty years.


Glenis had sadly died last year and Bob now had to look after himself. That meant learning to do a pile of jobs from cooking his own meals to cleaning the house. And now it meant buying his own shoes.


Glenis and Bob had never had any children – not their choice but the cards they were dealt. They did have a kindly nephew and niece – Marcus and Penny - but they were busy with their own lives and families. Bob had rung each of them. First, he’d called Marcus. Marcus laughed at the “shoe predicament” and told Bob just to buy the shoes online. The problem was that Bob didn’t know how to do that. Next, Bob called Penny. Marcus had already mentioned the shoe situation to Penny and she was more dismissive than Marcus. “Uncle Bob, Marcus already told you. Just go online and you’ll have the shoes this week.” Bob heard Penny’s Husband, Lee, in the background telling Penny to be patient with Bob.


Bob had several friends who lived at Retirement Villages. People went around to those Villages selling shoes. Bob called a couple of his friends and they said the shoe sellers were on holidays for January but they would come back in February. Bob didn’t want to have to hibernate until February.


So, there was nothing else for it. He would have to go to a shoe shop by himself.


Bob didn’t drive so he walked slowly in his holey shoes to the local shops. He went into the first shoe shop he found that displayed men’s shoes in the window.


“May I help you Sir?” the store greeter asked him.


“Yes. I need a new pair of shoes,” replied Mr Robert (Bob) Morton.


“What type of shoes are you after Sir?”


“These type please,” said Mr Morton, pointing to his worn, black lace ups.


“Come and take a seat Sir and I’ll show you some styles.”


After a few pairs of shoes in different styles were produced and tried on, Mr Morton purchased a new pair of black shoes. With cash. He had never had a plastic card and he didn’t see a need to get one now.


The new black shoes were not lace-ups but slip-ons. The kind shop assistant had showed Bob that slip-ons were much easier to put on and take off than lace-ups. Truth be told, Bob had been struggling with bending over to tie and untie the laces for a while.


Bob walked slowly home, wearing his new black slip-ons and carrying his old pair of shoes in a box. The shop assistant had offered to recycle the old pair but Bob thought that it was useful to keep them at home as an “emergency” pair. Just in case.


“Glenis, you would be so proud of me,” Mr Morton (Bob) said to himself, smiling.


About the author

Leonie Jarrett lives in Melbourne, Australia with her Husband of more than three decades, her four adult children and her two Golden Retrievers. Leonie has variously been a lawyer and a business owner. Now that she is semi-retired, Leonie is loving writing poetry, fiction and non-fiction. 

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