It started innocently enough, with a pair of brogues he bought in BHS for twenty quid. He was wearing them as he left the shop; his other shoes, a battered pair of Hush Puppies, were a disgrace. There was a problem, though. His new shoes looked as cheap as they were. He watched the lunchtime office workers in the High Street. Suits and black shoes. Black shoes like his. Their shoes also looked cheap. But you could tell who the bosses were. They looked older, certainly, and they were dressed the same as their subordinates, but there was a defining characteristic: you could hear them coming. Thus was the solution arrived at. Timpson's. Three packets of Blakey's, Segs, call them what you will.
That was how it started.
The Hush Puppies were next.
He started going to jumble sales to buy shoes.
He became a Timpson's regular. Soon, he was a twice a week man. Always the same purchase - three packets of Blakey's, Segs, call them what you will.
The house was beginning to fill up.
He left no shoe untouched. It was bad enough with the Hush Puppies (he should have recognised the signs back then), but he was out of control. Loafers, boat shoes, rope-soled sandals - nothing was left to its silence. He started buying socks at jumble sales - he needed clean hose at all times, as people were forever asking him to remove his footwear when he stepped over the theshold. He was a man who left his mark wherever he stepped. In his own ears, he sounded expensive. He sounded like a boss.
He knew he had a problem when he caught himself eyeing the soles of his slippers and thinking there was something missing. Psychiatric advice was sought. The doctor was a fellow sufferer, unfortunately, and filled him in on a pioneering technique being developed in the States: Segs Heel Grafts. Why bother with footwear? If the dentists could do it to your mouth, why couldn't the chiropodists do it to your feet? He left the surgery with a printout from the Internet. He felt as if he were flying, even though he was clicking heavily along the pavement. The possibilities were endless.
He is currently looking into a more subtle approach. Gene Therapy, along with the ingestion of calcium with a cast iron supplement. The metal targets the cells of the heel bone. It's another innovation from the States. He is awaiting the results of the trial period with bated breath. For the moment, his compulsion is in abeyance - he's given up the jumble sales. He still goes to Timpson's, though, twice a week. He's trying to cut down, but it's difficult. He doesn't know if he will ever be cured; he is trying to keep his expectations realistic.