Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

today : I demonstrate a lack of ambition

On my travels today I stopped off at the cobblers. This is unusual, mainly because there are very few cobblers left - it's all heel bars in the front of the supermarket whose main business is selling key-rings and faux-rustic signs for those people who feel the need to name their house with foreign language or rural sounding names, as if somehow this will exoticise their suburban grey box.

After a discussion about my shoes (my favourite ever ones - you can find discussion of them throughout my blog posts if you feel like it), and the minor repairs they require to keep them in tip top shape, the cobbler told me it was increasingly difficult to find skilled, trained shoe repairers these days. It's a dying art because fewer people have their shoes repaired. They just buy new ones. But there is a call for it, as people who do have their shoes repaired are pretty keen on it and repeat business is good.
This specific cobblers shop has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My unusual talipes feet used to have a habit of destroying pairs of shoes in mere weeks and when I was a child my parents would wring as much value out of each pair of shoes as they could by having them repeatedly resoled. Lucky the shop is owned by a distant relative.

I posted a while ago about watching some amateur singers singing with a crack jazz quartet. On the way home I said to my friend K (who'd sung that evening), how I always wanted to sing with a crack jazz band. She laughed, as she considers me a pretty ropey singer. But I'm not as bad as she thinks. She asked me why I didn't ask if I could have a go. I was not a member of the jazz vocal class whose concert it was, but she insisted the tutor would have been amenable. Damn, I could've done A Little Trip to Heaven or Laura or Pennies from Heaven or Lady Day and John Coltrane with real proper musicians.

This evening I was reading a music magazine, looking at all the listings for the numerous summer festivals around the country. At the bottom of each bill there is an astonishing range of smaller and smaller stages. The artists were all people I've never heard of. Poets, comedians, acoustic singer-songwriters and the like. Each of them getting a gig and getting paid. I guess many of them are barely more than keen amateurs. On leaving the cobblers, and, naturally after I'd challenged someone illegally parked in the disabled space next to mine, I started thinking. With my lifelong experience of shoes, my specific interest in shoe comfort and my penchant for having shoes repaired, I would have made an excellent cobbler. I wondered how much training it would take. Is cobbling still a viable profession? Could I have used my vast and broad experienec of foot pain and shoe discomfort to become an orthoticist?

Similarly, I think I'm a pretty decent songwriter and guitarist, if not in league with Nat Cole or Morten Harket or Marvin Gaye in the singing dep't. In the past I've had some very positive feedback (up to and including what could at a stretch be called 'groupies') from some people who've listened to my work. However, I am not appearing at 11am on some minor stage at a festival this summer. Nor am I able to fix my own, or anyone else's shoes.