Tuesday 11th June, 11:51
My boots were another birthday present from my sister, just before I moved to France two years ago last week. Here they are. Look at them…
We’ve been through a lot together, my boots and I. We’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. We’ve rescued imperilled marsupials from scenes of woodland devastation. We’ve run panicking into the night with fire lapping at our soles. We’ve come unstuck in a sea of concrete. My boots have saved my toes innumerable times and I, in turn, have worked them into the ground and then bought them new laces. To keep them sweet.
In the context of this WWOOFing lark, I see my boots as a kind of badge of honour. Every scratch, every stain, every hole in the leather is another sign of some effort I’ve made to improve something. My boots say a lot about my life over the past couple of years. They speak for me. In fact, just as someone at a Star Wars fan convention might let their full-body R2D2 tattoo speak for itself, so I see my boots tacitly declaring my fitness for farm work. I imagine my hosts taking one look at my boots and thinking to themselves, ‘Good God in heaven, here is a man who stood up against the brambles, the bedrock, the raised beds, the rogue axe-swing. Here is a man who stood up.’
In short, I love my boots. And I’d be lost without them.
That’s why it was extremely stupid of me to leave them outside my friends’ house last night when I went to get the train to Lecce.
Sometimes it baffles me how I can manage to be such an airhead and yet still manage to bimble about for the most part getting stuff done. But other times it makes perfect sense.
As it happens, the overnight train I wished to travel on was already fully booked. I was peeved at the time at my own foolishness for not booking a seat earlier. So I booked one there and then for today – the train I’m on right at this moment – and spent another night in Mezzo di Lavino, just outside of Bologna.
It wasn’t until this morning right at the last minute, seconds before hoisting my rucksack onto my back and leaving for the second time, that I realised my boots were not where they should be.
I was very relieved.
It amuses me to think that if I’d got my shit together and booked a seat on the overnight train, I would have arrived in Lecce this morning with just my swan-skin trainers, looking for all the world like some ageing gap-year greenhorn with pampered hands and metrosexual tendencies. Instead, my two acts of cerebral negligence cancelled one another out and now, although I’m half a day later than anticipated, I’m saving money on a train, my boots are with me and everything is going to be alright.