x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

An occasion for the right shoe

Keeping classic shoes around means holding out hope for a return to the past.

When I was moving to the Emirates, my wonderful, cruel-to-be-kind friend Rachel launched an intervention. A shoe-vention, if you will. Knowing I would never be able to pack and leave the country in time if left to my own devices, she drove 200 miles to come to my salvation.

Laying out my myriad shoes on my bed, she gave me strict instructions: for every pair I chose to take with me, I had to put one in the bag for charity. I begged. I pleaded. I even furtively stole a pair back from the charity bag when she wasn't looking. But she would not be deterred.

"Are you really going to miss these? Are you prepared to pay to ship these halfway across the world?" she intoned in logic I could not argue with, as she held up another pair of gold satin stilettos with ribbons up the calves/ purple skyscraper heels I could not walk in/ beaded Indian slippers with paper-thin soles.

But when she rooted out a pair of Dr Martens gathering dust at the back of my wardrobe, I screamed and threw myself headlong in a rugby tackle to retrieve them.

"Why are these even here?" she said, aghast.

"Because you never know when the nineties are coming back," I whined. I had not worn them since 1995, but I still remember the moment I became their proud owner. Blur and Oasis were battling it out in the charts, I was at university and everyone had a pair.

So on a Saturday afternoon in a little shop in Park Street, Bristol, I dithered between rows and rows of DMs in jewel-like colours before plumping for traditional black - stamping on them with muddied shoes before wearing them, of course, because only a complete novice would wear shiny new DMs. Back then, our favoured haunt was indie nights at the Bierkeller, where the clientele would not so much dance as jump up and down on the spot and try not to headbutt one another.

The tie-dyed skirt and baggy black top had long gone. But those treasured boots were a relic of my youth.

"You are never going to need these again," Rachel said firmly and dumped them in the bag.

She was wrong. At the Beady Eye gig last week, how I wished I had those boots again.

The concert was brilliant, shoe-gazing, head-nodding stuff. I was 19 again. The gathering was markedly older but they still jumped up and down on the spot and tried not to headbutt each other.

One thing Rachel doesn't know is that I managed to rescue a pair of silver stilettos. Just wait till Bjorn Again plays Abu Dhabi next month. This time, I'll be prepared.