Saturday, 17 January 2009

A Little Elbow Grease On The Shoes

I finally got round to polishing two pairs of black shoes today. This chore, like many others, requires a considerable psychological effort on my part; however, once everything is prepared and laid out it's easy and satisfying. They weren't particularly dirty; they just hadn't been treated with polish for a very long time.

I contacted Cheaney about the Nicky R shoes and, it transpires, they have been discontinued. All the better for that, in many ways. It does go some way to explaining the substantial discount offered in Bond Street, though. I paid another visit to a local retailer today in order to try on shoe sizes 6 and 6½. As a consequence of this I can recount that the fit of shoes is an inexact science! Some sixes were almost too roomy; others were fine. One pair of Barker moccasins, size 7, seemed to fit me. I think it would be wiser to wait.

I was at a BBC Invitation Concert last night, at the Assembly Building in Fisherwick Place, Belfast. It was all mostly Sibelius and the soloist was a well-known cellist, Raphael Wallfisch. Whilst the Assembly Building may well be suited to BBC Radio Three recordings, it has its deficiencies for the audience. Normally the Beeb uses the Ulster Hall, which is closed for renovations. I sat adjacent to the French horn players and one of them was pointed right at my ear! Still, it was a free concert and entertaining too. These productions must cost the BBC a lot of money - hiring the venue, paying the orchestra and soloist, sending out tickets to applicants etc. The Corporation is to be praised and commended for this.

The Ulster Orchestra, like many organizations and, indeed, individuals these days, has become lax in terms of evening wear. I am a traditionalist. I still believe that one ought to dress for the occasion. I don't care what others do. The Orchestra's code ought to be dinner jacket, white shirt and black tie for men; black evening dress for women - at informal concerts. Whoever started the habit of wearing black shirts? I imagine they can get away with wearing black shirts for a whole week without washing them.

At formal concerts - at concert halls, for instance - full evening dress should be worn: evening tailcoat, white dress shirt, white tie, white waistcoat. I am in no doubt that some may find this attire too un-egalitarian and old-fashioned. What's wrong with that? We see slovenly standards in all walks of life nowadays - snooker being a prime example. Banning black shirts and insisting upon black bow-ties would be a start.


grannymar said...

Do you use an ice cube while polishing your shoes?

Timothy Belmont said...

No. Pray tell me the ice-cube method! :-)

grannymar said...

I learned this method from an American Air Force Pilot back in the early 70's. His shoes always looked like patent leather.

My friend used an ice cube, black shoe polish and a soft cloth.

The shoes were wiped free from dust. Then he wrapped the cloth around his index and second fingers, rubbed it on the ice cube and then the polish. He began working in small circles on the toe of the shoe and kept going with frequent return visits to the ice and polish. It was a slow job but satisfying. By the time he was finished with this first part of the task he had worked up a good shine and the polish was well worked into the leather.

Finally he produced a fresh cloth and used it to buff up a shine suitable for a Royal Guard of Honour!

Timothy Belmont said...

Sounds a useful trick: I'll try that the next time and let you know how I fare! :-)