The Banker's Niece

Read exclusive extracts from my new novel The Banker's Niece. Click here for Chapter 1.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Jiminy cricket

All my life I’ve walked in wellies. I was brought up with them, I liked the thought that no animal had died to make them, they were cheap, and I found them perfectly comfortable. I had tried occasionally to buy proper walking boots but had never managed to find any to fit, given that my feet are too long for women’s boots but too narrow for men’s.
    Recently however, perhaps as a result of age or maybe because of the amount I’m having to walk to keep Ellie at least halfway bearable, my feet have started to ache, and the outside edge of my right foot has started to swell. Oh dear.
    Today, I steeled myself and headed for Exeter.
    As I drove off I noticed a big bright green cricket on my windscreen so I stopped and tried to scoop him off. I didn’t want him to be damaged when I got up speed. He took matters into his own hands (feet) however and leapt for the hedgerow.
    Another omen I thought, like all unexpected occurrences, and another omen that I’m unable to interpret.

As I trudged to the third shop I felt rather discouraged and all set to go home again empty handed (footed). No one had seemed very keen to help me, only bringing me a couple of boots to try, and none of those had fitted. At Moorland Rambler however (in Fore Street) I found an assistant who spoke my language.
    ‘These are the boots that would suit your requirements,’ he said, pointing to the row halfway up the wall. He didn't bore me with long-winded or scientific explanations; he made the decision for me. ‘I’ll bring them all out to you.’
    I slipped them all on quickly and knew straight away that only one of the dozen felt OK, and then only sort-of OK.
    ‘I’ll bring them all in a different size,’ he said.
    I then spent three-quarters of an hour, lacing, unlacing, and traipsing up and down the trial ramp, with the assistant in attendance, helping me get the boots on and off and answering all my queries.
    Eureka. I found two comfortable pairs. I wanted them both.
    ‘Do you walk?’ I asked the assistant, feeling embarrassed at hogging the limelight for so long and wanting to give myself time to make a decision.
    His face sprang alive.
    ‘Only in winter,’ he said. ‘I get too hot in the summer.’
   ‘D’you walk fast then?’ I said.
    He laughed and nodded. ‘I like climbing too,’ he continued. ‘I’ve just been to the Alps.’
    I decided to take the more flexible pair as they felt less alien to my wellie-accustomed feet and to maybe come back for the more supportive pair in due course.

As I planned this post, I suddenly realised what the cricket portended. He was me, leaping from crag to crag in my new boots (probably in pursuit of errant Dog).

My feet in their new boots

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