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Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to the way I dress. I went through most of my undergraduate years wearing pale blue denim, rollneck sweaters and waistcoats, and for the past ten or eleven years, I've mostly worn black Levi 501s, black t-shirts, boots, and woolen sweaters. Part of the reason is that I just can't bear to waste time trying to work out what to wear each morning; if the choice from my day-to-day wardrobe consists of three identical pairs of jeans, dressing is a task requiring no effort or thought.

(and yes, I'm aware that this is a typical geek justification)

My choice in day-to-day footwear has varied a bit over the last fifteen years. There was the dalliance with chisel-toed, Cuban-heeled biker boots (ended mainly because I was constantly having to get them reheeled), there was a fling with fashion Doc Martens (ended because I found that I was getting through a pair every six months; the cardboard insoles kept falling apart), and a longer relationship with black Caterpillar six-holes.

I stopped wearing CAT six-holes because they changed the specification (they used to have a standard eyelet at the top, followed by two hook eyelets, which made relacing easier than if the top three eyelets had been hooks, which is the new configuration). Since then, I've been wearing black industrial Doc Martens (steel toecap, seven-hole), which have the twin advantages that they don't have a cardboard insole that rots after a couple of months, and they're cheaper than the fashion DMs.

(Another aside. I'm not the only person who obsesses about clothing specifications; both al_riddoch and theno23 have waxed lyrical about the benefits of Dutch army-surplus combat trousers - the One True Trouser, to hear them speak of them - over other equivalent brands. The chief difference, this post aside, is that I don't tend to evangelise about my choice in clothes)

Anyway, the current pair are about eighteen months old, and the soles are wearing a bit thin. I also seem to have stepped on something pointed, since they're letting in water through the sole. Tried shopping for a new pair in town this afternoon, and found that the one place that had them before is out of stock for at least the next month, and that all the other chains only stock the (inferior) fashion boots.

And then I had a brainwave. The building supplies mail order company Screwfix sells protective clothing in addition to the eponymous screws and sundry fixings (I must have dominant Bloke genes, because I've spent many a happy hour leafing through the catalogue, ogling novel drywall fixings - but I digress). Lo! and behold, they not only also sell Doc Martens of the sort I was looking for, but cheaper than on the high street (£40 compared to £50), and with free next-day delivery.

I'm slightly appalled, and rather pleased, that I've now ordered two pairs of boots (paying the premium for early delivery on Monday morning) from an outfit that sells ironmongery, kitchen cabinets and power tools.

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Re: Steel toecap

Sooner or later they won't let you into to somewhere [...] you'll be going out somewhere with grownups and they'll ask you to come back with non-work boots.

The simple answer is that I choose not to go to those sorts of place. I've eaten in Michelin-starred restaurants while wearing boots, and they didn't seem to have a problem, or at least not one that they were willing to raise with me.

I don't like the big vertical-drinking pubs where the game seems to be to see how many pints you can pour down your throat before chucking out time and the obligatory street scuffle and post-scuffle/pre-coital kebab. I can understand why the bouncers in such people don't want to admit people who can do more damage than usual with their feet. I prefer not to drink in places where it's expected that some of the clientele will resort to kicking each other before the night is out.

The only time I've had someone get arsey about my choice of footwear, I was wearing a relatively new, well cared-for pair of oxblood Doc Martens. I *looked after* those boots. I polished them every day, far more often then the lackadaisical treatment I give my boots these days.

And then I went into a pub in Coventry on a Friday night about a decade ago, and had a bouncer step on the toes (badly scuffing the surface finish, crushing the toes and leaving great big creases in what had been pristine leather) "to make sure they weren't steel-toed". Now, I'm not even sure that DM have ever made steel-toed boots (an industrial item) in oxblood (a fashion colour). I do know that oxbloods were popular amongst skinheads and other petty fascists for the reason that blood didn't show on them, presumably after you've given someone else a good kicking. When this happened, my hair was as long as it is now, and I was wearing a velvet jacket, which is not really the chosen uniform of the Street Fighting Thug.

Were your toes inside at the time?

Re: Steel toecap

They were, yes. It was quite clear that the bouncer expected me to be wearing steel toecaps from the amount of pressure he used.

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