A few years ago, I went to England to give a paper and do research. After a day reading at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s library, I walked along city streets. I traveled from here …
Kensington Garden. Even in the waning light, it was idyllic.
And along this wandering way, I came upon an Oxfam Shop. I’m used to buying books at these shops, great and curious titles one wouldn’t come across readily in other places. This one had a talkative manager, who told stories about what it was like when the royal family drove past the shop — a conversation whose memory I will enjoy all my days. It also had clothing. While I thought I’d find vintage buttons for a sweater or a shawl pin, I came across the most beautiful men’s shoes. Bespoke Oxfords, to be precise, that happened to fit me, as if Cinderella’s fairy godmother had dropped a few things off at a London charity shop.
I’ve worn them, knowing that the laces were coming apart. Today, I finally sat down to replace them.
I learned, quite quickly, that one does not lace Oxfords the way one laces tennis shoes. The technique is called a straight barred lacing, a gentleman’s lacing, and more. There are opinions for days about how, and whether, to do it. And so I spent this Sunday afternoon learning to lace my shoes.