Dispatches From The North

Tania Kindersley lives in the North East of Scotland with two amiable lab collie crosses and one very grumpy Gloucester Old Spot pig. She co-wrote Backwards In High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female, with Sarah Vine.

New boots

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 30 January 2013
My life is not exactly stuffed with event. I used to live quite a rackety urban life. I ran around Soho and sometimes drank in places where one might observe the odd household name. I still remember the night I watched in awe and wonder as Charlotte Rampling stalked down a long bar. Many famous people are a crashing disappointment in the flesh; not she. She was quite mesmerising.  It was as if she carried her own private lighting director with her.

Now I am rooted in the far north-east of Scotland, almost two hundred miles beyond Edinburgh. It’s not quite all the way up. I do not watch the ferry for Shetland from my window. But it’s quite far from the twinkling lights of old London town.

Now, I worry not about my membership of The Groucho, but about getting my horse shelter finished. I lie awake at night, listening to the gales which have blown in after the big snows, hoping the equines will be all right. They did indeed have the wind in their tails this morning, and put on a fine bronco display of galloping and bucking. I think about fencing, and the tree-planting programme I have planned for the spring, and whether I will ever get the outside tap done for the feed shed. It is not exactly an existence filled with front-page glamour.

Easily my biggest decision this week was the purchasing of a new pair of gumboots. After ten years of dogged service, my battered old Le Chameau boots finally gave up the ghost. An actual hole developed, and the rubber down one side was perishing.

Le Chameau is the absolute Queen of the Boot. It is what all the keepers wear. When I bought my first pair I thought the dull green a little sickly, but for design and comfort, nothing comes close. But they are now almost three hundred pounds, and I suddenly could not bring myself to spend that kind of money, even though I live in my gumboots. I get more bang for my buck from them than from any other article in my life.
tania jan30

Still, we are in the New Austerity now, and my thrifty side revolted against such extravagance. After a lot of Googling, I finally found an acceptable alternative. They are called Aigle, and they too have the crucial neoprene lining, which makes you feel as if you are walking on air.

It was a moment of jubilee when they arrived. Brand spanking new boots; this now counts as an above the fold headline in my house.

They are very nice, and half the price, but of course they are not the same. I mourn my old keeper’s boots. I suddenly feared the replacements were a little bit mimsy, even slightly girly. I cannot be walking about in girly boots.

Tentatively, I consulted my stepfather.
   ‘What do you think?’ I said.
   He thought for a moment.
   ‘Well,’ he said. ‘They are very butch.’

I almost fainted with delight.
   ‘I don’t mean that in a rude way,’ he said.
   ‘No, no,’ I cried in delight. ‘That’s the best thing you could have said. I was worried they were a bit mere and girly.’
   ‘Oh, no,’ he said. ‘That’s a man’s boot.’

I practically skipped home, I was so happy. This is what it has come to, with me. I am forty-six today, and my life has gone from Charlotte Rampling to the farmer in the dell. No more Groucho and high heels, but weather and earth and horses and manly boots.
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