It was an occasion we dreaded, approached with gritted teeth. A week or so before the beginning of the new term, my mother, brother and I launch an assault on the children’s shoe department of Peter Jones. On arrival, we go to the long rectangular window to get a numbered ticket. My mother makes a quick mental calculation of how long we have to wait. Twenty people before us, at least an hour.
At least an hour. My mother strides off, trailing two reluctant children, to get the other things we need from the department store. The strip lighting, beige walls, lacklustre displays and brown carpet, feel like we’ve travelled back to 1950’s Moscow. The escalator glides past shelves of sewing machines and pastel twinsets until we reach the school uniform department. Packets of vests and white socks, not the holey socks, the plain kind. My mother doesn’t like the holey kind. Every few minutes, my mother checks her watch, anxious incase we miss our slot. Next, haberdashery to buy thread for name tapes. The endless cycle of sewing on nametapes is not a job my mother likes. Hours spent cursing pricked fingers, sighing over her inability to make them look neat. Have we got time for another task? Ironing board covers. My brother and I want to go back. If we miss our slot, we’ll never leave this dimly lit rabbit warren.
Back to the shoe department, to claim three seats among the long rows. Swinging feet while we wait, the busy shop assistants weaving in and out with their towers of boxes containing girls sandals, boys lace ups, ballet shoes. So many bored, whiny children, so many anxious parents. Eventually, it’s our turn. The assistant takes the shoe gauge out of the lidded stool. “She’s got very narrow feet Madam, I’m not sure we’ve got her size”. I can feel my mother tensing up beside me, the prospect of more shoe shops, repeat visits. “It doesn’t have to be that style, any school shoe will do”.
She returns with a stack of boxes. Brown Startrite lace ups for my brother, the rounded shape makes his feet look like kidney beans. Now for me. Happily she’s found the shoe I wanted in a narrow fitting. Red Startrite Claire shoes with a buckle and perforated pattern around the edge. The same shoes I always have, the only shoes I really like.
We leave wearing our new shoes, shiny leather soles slippy on the brown carpets. The torture over for another six months.
This is a sponsored post. If you’d like to find out more about measuring your children’s feet, please look at the embedded video, or this one about Startrite’s shoe gauge. My seven year old self would have approved of buying shoes online.