I’m on a night out, going to see a group in town. I don’t call them bands anymore because it sounds like pop groups aren’t cool. Everything has to be so bloody authentic nowadays so I’m calling every group I like a pop group from now on, even if they have distinct rock sensibilities. Blossoms are a pop group, like the other groups on tonight, Hidden Charms and The Vryll Society. The show (I’ve eschewed the word “gig” as well, for 2015) is in The Kazimier in Liverpool which I like a lot.
It’s a Sunday night and raining lightly, but steady enough to fill a puddle if the ground supplies a deep enough dent; this rain, it enjoys a challenge. We’re walking to The Kazimier and I hear a slapping sound amongst the pitter-patter of rain. I check it isn’t me (well, you never know), and confirm it’s not, so carry on walking. Then I trip; just a little trip, not a massive hands grabbing empty air kind but enough to give me a start. I take another step and there it is again, another skip-trip followed by a slap-slap.
Then I realise, it is me slapping. Not me exactly, but my boot. The sole has come away from the toe and it’s slapping on the ground as I walk. I give it another couple of steps and the slap-slapping gets worse, flapping and flopping instead. I hobble like I have dead leg to stop the slapping, but my naïve tactic fails. I go for broke and yank at the sole and the whole thing comes off in my hand. Underneath the rubber sole it’s rotten, leaving a hole in the bottom. That explains my ever-damp sock over the past winter. Good to know.
It’s eight o’clock in the evening, and even in a cosmopolitan city like Liverpool there’s no shoe shops open this late on Sundays, not in my price range anyway and it’s too late to go home and change because the opening band – sorry, group – is on in half an hour and I want my money’s worth for my seven quid ticket. So I put the boot back on and walk like a half wound up toy to stop the boot disintegrating further. Too late; the boot with no sole sheds its lining as I walk. I know because my already wet sock lets through freezing water, wintry and tart, but I reckon no one else will notice, or give a stuff so I carry on.
But the boot is not looking good. Now the sole and lining have deserted me the boot has nothing to hold it together and the top of it goes wide and baggy. I now have cruelly mismatched feet. My husband offers to give me his shoes. No thanks, I say. His feet are three sizes bigger than mine, I feel foolish enough.
I do feel stupid with my broken boot but once in the venue, people can’t see; The Kazimier is dark. I knew I liked this place.
So I’m standing there with one foot much bigger than its former twin and discomfort kicks in because now my boot heel is gone I’ve got one leg two inches shorter than the other. I have three options. I can take my boots off. Not a goer; I flash my Primark socks to no one. Next I stand with one knee bent, both feet flat on the ground. I think I’ve found the magic formula but it starts aching after a very short while. Option three is stretching the toes on my temporarily shortened leg, keeping both legs straight; that provides relief but it’s unsteady and perilous, not good for long periods. This show has three pop groups playing, it lasts nearly three hours. I can’t toe it for that long.
I work either position alternately, giving a couple of minutes to each. It’s fine as long as I’m not doing the tip toe thing when someone brushes past; if this happens I fall over like a drunk calf because my balance is off.
Still,I forget about the discomfort and staggering thing after a bit. I enjoy the show. I’m pop’n’roll, I can get through this. The fates are plotting against me tonight, my boot is phlatt-phlatting on the floor if I tap my foot in time with the music so I try not to do it. Much.
The Kazimier tonight is crammed with young blades, the beautiful ones. It’s an evening of the lovely shoes and boots, neat and slender ankles, as cool as fuck. But me, I’m starting not to care. These people with the beautiful footwear, they probably come out with words like “band” and “gig”, so what do they know? I’m setting a new trend and anyway, it’s all about the music, yeah? Don’t they know, the new thing is sole freedom? Of course it is. It’s actually quite punk.
I go to the loo before we leave. My heart booms in my chest when I see this on the toilet door.
Pop group. Show. Sole freedom. Consider the system smashed.