Shoe shines

This rather grainy photograph is of myself on a shoe shine stand in Grand Central Station, Manhatten. The result of the digital camera we’d been carting around going kaput on us.

It’s quite a few years since I’ve had a proper shine, the last being at Liverpool Street when such things were in fashion – during the red-braces / striped-shirt / Wall Street era of British commerce (late-Thatcher I guess). I was living in some rather run down Dr Marten brogues at the time, deep Cherry Blossom oxblood; a colour they now call ‘burgundy’ in an effort to appear less threatening.

Recently, a furniture making friend of mine had built a shoe shine stand that was to have operated out of Newcastle Central Station, but after two weeks of inactivity, the stand went out of business and is now serving as firewood.

Anyway, here was a row of stands, situated amongst the opulent surroundings of this cathedral to mid-period American capitalism. I was wearing oxblood penny loafers over argyle socks and under Edwin selvedge denim. I jumped into the deep red leather seat, and put my feet in the stirrups.

I’d love to tell you about the mechanics of the shine, but I couldn’t see my feet, and in any case, it took at least ten minutes and seemed to require various types of cloth (including chamois, J-cloth and old t-shirt) and a water spray. There was cracking of the cloths, as one would a whip, and the glorious odours of polish. The job was finished off with scuff-cote around the leather of the heel and sole, and the whole thing cost $4 plus tip.

A marvellous experience, and well worth the outlay as my shoes were glossier than I ever could have achieved myself, despite being schooled by my Father in the art (he had been a serviceman).

One disappointment however was that amongst the creams, polishes and cloths of the shiner’s tool kit, there was no red, oxblood or indeed burgundy polish. I had to settle for a light tan.


~ by Lord Leigh Park on April 16, 2011.

4 Responses to “Shoe shines”

  1. You, my friend, are a a very, very stylish cat. I picked up some bargain cowboy “shoe boots’ from the amongst the bric-a-brac at Flemongton market the other day- choice for $30!

  2. Your New York experience was better than mine, when I had a shoe shine on some not very excellent black shoes, they used some sort of liquid stuff (paint), rather than real polish which was not good for the shoes and they painted part of my sock, rendering them unwearable.

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