A month of summer to go, and I’m back in Southampton. My time away has been eventful (in parts), but there’s something irreplaceable about walking down Portswood Road in my trampling-the-unworthy boots and just thinking, “I’m back”.
Said beloved boots have been a little neglected while I’ve been away. Much of my summer has been spent commuting from my parents’ house to a nine-to-five job in central London, where time is money and the seven deadly sins are (in order): scruffiness, tardiness, lack of enthusiasm, bad ties, long hair, desk clutter, and not drinking coffee. My scuffed-up walking boots (useful as they are for drop-kicking chihuahuas) don’t really have a place in this centre of banking paranoia.
(By the way, the dog thing was a joke. I wouldn’t really drop-kick a chihuahua. Not when they fit so nicely into a hamster ball.)
Those thoughts aside, I wonder if I haven’t overlooked my dear boots as a vital commuting tool. Especially for those days when South-West Trains have (for reasons best known to themselves) shortened a rush-hour train from eight carriages to four, resulting in a “human jam” effect: faces pressed helplessly against the glass as the crush of bodies slowly sweats itself into a sloppy macro-organism made up of shirts, shoes, briefcases and under-tanned human flesh. Oh, and somewhere in all this mess there’s me, pressed groin to groin with an Indian man in a grey suit. We share a wonderfully British few stops as I stare up the carriage and he stares down it, both of us carefully ignoring the fact that we’re possibly closer than some married couples get whilst trying for a baby. He got off at Earlsfield, leaving me to draw a full breath of someone’s underarm fragrance and wonder exactly why Americans think London is a glamorous place to work.
My poor boots didn’t even get a look-in during my week off. Sometime last October (my family believes in planning ahead) my dear dad made the following two realisations:
1. The children were almost all flown the nest.
2. The Euro was getting more and more steep against the pound.
So he thought he’d try for one last family holiday somewhere new.
He picked Croatia. A location just a little too hot in the height of summer to wear clumpy boots (or, as it turned out, many clothes at all).
I said, “Great, I’ll be there”, then promptly forgot about it, only to be reminded again four days before we were due to leave. After a nice phone conversation with a man at Thomus Cook about the Croatian Kuna, a long walk up to St. James Street to collect said Croatia Kuna, and a frantic night’s packing, we were off. It was as I was boarding the plane that I remembered two things:
1. I hadn’t packed a hat.
2. My little brother doesn’t like flying.
Oh well, we all made it there and back alive and (reasonably) sane. I even picked up a rather striking white cowboy hat in a Dubrovnik hat shop (only 75 Kuna). But the best part of the trip is still sitting in the cupboard by my leg. A bottle of bright orange pear liqueur.
I think I might be ready for my third year now.