Tuesday 21 December 2010
Rock 'n' Stroll
Over in Ishmalia, Mr Smith is musing on the meaning of furniture; its significance beyond the functional which often turns out to be the least of its jobs.
This piece, however, is all about function. It is a rocking shoe box. You keep your gear in it - brushes, polishes, cloth, special magic things for making shoes fit, spare shoe liners - hence no more lost shoe-care frenzy.
Before you go out you step on it, one foot then the other, and give the show a quick once-over. The rocking action immediately demonstrates its superiority over fixed shoe-boxes; it adjusts easily to your stance. It is light but strong. Best not to use it on a highly-polished floor, though, as there is a chance of it skidding away.
The box has the air of a successful woodwork project by somebody - look, it's obviously a male manufacturer, it just is - who wanted to learn how to cut, join and fit wood. It is the next project on from making a simple rocking crib; it has two hinged lids which shut snugly. It is the way it shuts properly, has not warped or split, even after many years of being stepped on, which suggests that it was done with pride. The person wanted to make a really useful thing while learning the craft, and they did.
I don't know who it was made for or what happened to them, but I do know who it was made by because their neat pencil name is still in there. M. Chamberlain.
It's possible "Mike" - that's how I think of him - was a 4th former when he made it, but the number might just be a note to himself for some other purpose, such as assembly order or project number.
Woodwork projects are often given away, usually to mothers, but it is possible M Chamberlain kept his box and used it for his professional footwear. The neatly folded cloths, the sets of shoe laces, one tube of sports white and the parade gloss which were already living in there were huffy when I introduced suede-cleaning blocks, a nu-buck cleaning spray and gel footpads.
Now, after finding it in a charity shop, it is back where it belongs, where it ought to be and where it deserves to be, sitting in front of a mirror so that it can supervise that all-important wardrobe check before facing the paparazzi : Have You Cleaned Your Shoes?
Thank you, M Chamberlain.