Of course, it’s an analogy for other areas of life that these old shoes have come to the end of their days; not that I wished to throw them out but they had become an irritant to others and I had to concede to their judgement. They are certainly thirty years old and I imagine that if I kept them a little while longer they would be back in fashion with their squared toes and stitched edging but they would hardly be ever again suitable for wear in public. The insoles are long gone; there are splits to bring fresh air to my small toes – something the shoe designers inexplicably failed to provide in the original style – the upper have parted from the soles and they bear the paint splashes and marks of long service. They have been for several years my “backdoor” shoes, those shoes used to get one dry-footed from house to garage, three metres away, where the wellingtons are stored. They are now to be replaced by a new pair of appropriately marketed “Backdoor Shoes” – a rubber/plastic, slip-on, low-heeled design which will perform the function adequately though, I imagine, without the panache of my faithful, well-worn and perfectly comfortable old comrades.
By coincidence, there are other similar changes afoot. I have received a new hip. We had a few minutes of unbounded laughter a few weeks, one of those moments when I realised how funnily stupid I can be. I asked Mary to look at a pair of trousers I wear around the house and for gardening – not quite the vintage of my old shoes, a cast-off from my son – and I asked her to look at and compare the length of the legs. One was noticeable longer than the other and she spotted this immediately. I had noticed it previously and wondered if my son had had the trousers altered and that a bad job had been done on them but, after a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon a fortnight ago, I realised that the trousers were fine but that one of my legs was shorter than the other! How blindly stupid old men can be!
When my G. P. gave me the results of a recent X-ray and MRI scan there was that “I can’t believe this, but…” tone to her voice as she told me I’d been walking around “bone on bone” for some considerable time. Yes, the cartilage was gone and the top of the femur and base of the socket in the pelvis were considerably worn – the consultant showed me the MRI scan images and explained that I had “lost” 15mm of bone. (“And, by the way, that knee doesn’t look too great either” he threw in!)
Now, the deed had been done – a new hip has been installed and, thanks to the skill of the surgeon, the leg has been returned to its original length so that I shall stand tall, well tallish, once again. I’m back home now but not quite ready to try on my new backdoor shoes – a treat in store for me!