As the summer slowly fades and the intermittent drizzle turns to torrential stair rods at the Temple of typografika, we have noticed, dear disciples of the typeface, that as sure as the seasons change and night follows day, a certain time of the year is almost upon us. I suppose you could call it a happy time, in the same way that gladiators would call waiting to go into the arena and experience their own imminent grisly death, a happy time. YES! Its almost time for 'back to school' shopping.
Of course the simplest and most enjoyable way to accomplish this task is to order beautiful and practical items like this Alphabet lunch bag - £4.10 www.typografika.co.uk - and also gain some typografik enlightenment into the bargain. However the more mundane uniform items still need to be purchased and here we are talking pure misery for all involved.
OH! how we laugh and sing as we make our way down the winding mountain track from the Temple above (do you see what I'm doing there?, I'm being sarcastic). In truth the atmosphere on the mule train is somewhat solemn and in certain cases plain petulant. (Mr S. certainly doesn't see the necessity of school clothing over the offprings usual loin cloths and can usually only be persuaded to accompany us on these trips with the small incentive of a hip flask containing his favourite cocktail, which is presently Red diesel and pineapple - or do I mean red bull? - no its definitely red diesel).
There follows endless hours in the supermarket, filling the trolley with all things grey, teflon coated and trousery in order to take full advantage of the '16 for the price of 15' special offer. We load up teetering piles of polo shirt multipacks, when they don't even have a school polo team, as Mr S. insightfully points out and purchase industrial quantities of grey socks. It is then and only then, time for the nadir of utter misery that is - the visit to Clarks. If you've lead a good and blameless life and therefore have never experienced this, think 'Dantes Inferno with shoes' .
Take a ticket in the first circle of hell and join the queue of despair, waiting, as your children fidget and squabble. In an effort to relieve the boredom and subsequent chinese burns, you might take your children to the display, to select which style they might prefer from the 'range' of identical black, flat shoes on offer. After much shouting, passionate accusations of copying and explaining several times why the headmaster takes a dim view of his boys wearing Lelli Kellys, we return to our post and wait. But NO...NO, NO this cannot be... this is after all, England! Didn't that family come in after us?, why are they getting served before us? Don't they know theres a queue?...'Wake up Mr.S, there's skullduggery and queue jumping afoot!'.
When the police have left, cautions have beeen accepted and Mr.S has been sedated and left to nap over by the 10% off boots and galoshes, we wait, eyeing everyone suspiciously, as everyone eyes us suspiciously. Then - our number is called - OH jubilation! we cheer and weep and embrace each other with unbridled joy - we're on the last lap now.
Feet are measured, and after several attempts, we have a size! Oh life is GOOD! Its then usually implied that as the children have been forced to wear their present wrongly sized shoes until now, its miraculous that they can even walk and haven't been stunted forever!. Which style do we have in mind? No they don't have Lelli Kellys with Darth Vader on... I nervously enquire about the flat black style... They dont think they have either size in that style but they'll check the stockroom. - We wait.- Apparently they don't have any of those flat black shoes at all in the boy's sizes but do have these flat black shoes at double the price. As I begin to point out that they are almost identical to the others, being simultaneously 'flat' and 'black'; I'm reminded by the foetus serving me, that my children will curse my name and memory forever, as they spend the rest of their lives, feet hideously deformed, limping, gollum-like, in the shadows, if I fail to buy these shoes- NOW!.
After a couple of telephone calls to arrange the sale of Mr S.s other kidney, we have collected the bags containing the shoes, but OH NO- its an ambush!. Do we have 'waterproof wax and shine protector with kryptonite' at home?.. No but we have shoepolish.... Does it contain kryptonite?... Then I foolishly try to lie.. Its very forcefully implied that if thats a lie and the polish doesn't contain kryptonite, the shoes will disintegrate on the first contact with the ground... 'IM SORRY, IM SORRY PLEASE FORGIVE ME, JUST LET ME BUY ALL THE STUFF ON THE SHELVES AND EVEN THE SHELVES THEMSELVES...JUST PLEASE LET ME LEAVE,- I IMPLORE YOU,- BEFORE I MISS ANYMORE BIRTHDAYS!!' I sob...
We'll leave the store, blinking in the sunlight, filling our lungs with deep breaths of fresh air - the world looks different but somehow better - sweet liberty!
We''ll carefully wend our way back up the steep slope to the Temple. As the mules struggle under the weight of the spray polish cans, waterproof dubbing, buff leather shine wax, shoe stretchers, extra gentle polish cloths, extra abrasive cleaning scrubs, comfy night shoe cushion, heel grips, extra strong laces and suede softness preservative. The shoes in their boxes will be safely strapped to a mule each, while the children follow, on their malformed and twisted feet. And I, dear followers, will be making a couple of telephone calls. I hear that spleens are 'this years thing' in Saudi and we still have winter coats to get...
And if you're thinking that surely it must be worth it for quality shoes that last....this is how they end their lives - after a whole three weeks of faithful service.