If the shoe fits

It is my first day back at work today. Last night I polished my shoes for the first time in 12 months. I know. Sorry Mum.

I wondered how many people use shoe polish now, or even know of its existence. And how many shoes are chucked away when they are just scuffed. I imagined pair after pair of unloved shoes filling up landfill, (although a few would find their way to charity shops.)

Shoe polish has a nostalgic feel; the smell, the cunning opening mechanism on the side of the tin and the dark fingermarks on the polishing cloth. The need for newspapers, brushes and time doesn’t fit with the way things work today. You can’t get a shoe polishing app.

It reminded me of my old trombone teacher, Mr Sharman. He used to polish his shoes every night (ex-military). He was a marvellous bellow of a man with a barrel chest, a blue blazer with brass buttons, large flat feet and neatly brushed silver hair. Though his shoes were many years old, they were bright, shiny and seemingly indestructible.

Maybe I should start up a campaign for the resurgence of shoe polish as a way to reduce waste? Saving the world one pair of brogues at a time.


  1. I hate throwing out things that could conceivably be fixed (even if the artisan required last practiced his art in the middle ages). I sometime take this to far. In my office we use one of those 'whiteboard-on-wheels' to manage the status of all projects (we're talking millions of dollars of work), and the wheel broke about two years ago, so it's kind of slumped forward, and wobbles about every time we move it (It's a sad looking whiteboard). I have the broken wheel on my desk, and an action in my to-list 'fix whiteboard'… I absolutely refuse to buy a new one. It's just not right. Does anyone know a whiteboard engineer?

  2. Reading this took me straight back to my childhood. My father (your grandfather) refused to let any family member leave the house with grubby shoes (he was in the RAF during the war). I earned extra pocket money by cleaning everyone's shoes in the evening ready for the next morning. Influenced by his ideas (I loved and admired him very much) I still keep my shoes in perfect order – unlike other areas of my life!Rachel

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