I don’t remember my first pair of school shoes – I’m sure my Mum does. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re lurking in my parents’ attic, along with my potty (really) and pram (also really). I really looked after my shoes and generally made a pair last year, as long as my feet didn’t grow. My sister managed to kick the ends out of her shoes on a fairly regular basis, which meant that her shoes, once they were beyond Dad’s master polishing skills (he used to do our school shoes and his work shoes every Sunday night*) had to be replaced. Not as daft as she looks, that one…
I have a very clear memory of watching the advert of Clarks Hec Tic Toc shoes when I was 11 years old and falling in love, in the same way that little girls fall in love with Lelli Kelly shoes today. They looked really funky (as far as Clarks school shoes in the early ‘90s went) and had a game in the heel. Unimaginable technology to a child of the early 1990s. I mentioned them on my Facebook feed and girls of a certain age (early 30s) reminisced about Clarks Magic Steps shoes, which had a key in the heel. None of us actually owned a pair – I thought they were too girly, but we all remember the Labyrinth-style advert.
In true Circle of Life (IT’S THE WHEEEEL OF FOOORTUNE, THE LEEEAP OF FAIIIITH) style, I bought R and G their first pairs of school shoes today. I had heard horror stories from friends of the need to book an appointment weeks in advance, to be prepared for long queues, to expect massive strops from grumpy pre-schoolers. Dh and I took the girls to the shoe shop in the Village, unbooked and unannounced and…experienced none of these problems.
A sales assistant was waiting for us when we arrived and quickly ascertained that R was now one and a half sizes bigger than her previous shoes and G was now one size bigger. The Assistant led us over to the school shoe display shelves and picked out a Lelli Kelly pair.
Now, I HATE Lelli Kelly. I hate the fact that shoes for small children come with make-up, I hate their beads and buttons and bows and princess girlishness, I hate their ludicrous price tag and most of all I loathe their tweeness. They’re the shoe equivalent of Zooey Deschanel** coated in icing sugar.
I think the Assistant gathered that I wasn’t exactly a Lelli Kelly fan and she duly bought out several boxes of Clarks and Start-Rite shoes for the girls. G prevaricated between two pairs for a bit whereas R tried on a pair, liked them and the deed was done. It wasn’t until we got home and I put the shoes with the rest of their schoolwear (my home office looks like a branch of a school outfitters at the moment) that I noticed that they have toys in the heels. Luckily , both pairs do or there would be a riot…
Suddenly I was the 11 year old girl, sitting far too close to the TV (no coincidence that I started wearing glasses when I was 12), wanting a pair of Hec Tic Toks and knowing they were out of my parents’ price range. I haven’t told the girls that their shoes contain a secret. Yet.
While we were in a shoe buying mood I purchased the girls’ plimsolls too. A year or two down the line I know they will demand to wear Hello Kitty or Adidas trainers for PE but I want to do everything right this year and so they have proper black plimsolls with the wide Velcro strap.
I walked out of the shoe shop considerably poorer and remembered the sage advice of a friend of ours. ‘They’ll probably last a term’. She then proceeded to show me a pair of beaten-up school shoes with the soles flapping off and covered in scratches. Her daughter had worn them for TWO MONTHS.
Anyway, here are the shoes. G’s on the left, R’s on the right. Toys concealed:
*He polished my first ever pair of Dr Martens and managed to coat the yellow stitching in black shoe polish. I was devastated…
**I like Zooey (It’s bloody ZOE!) Deschanel in New Girl. I don’t like her singing or her fringe.