We all have our favourite items of clothing and I am no exception to this. I have some extremely ancient favourites and you know how it is, you just throw them on without a care in the world, knowing that they are oh-so-comfortable and well-loved. And that's just it, you throw them on - without actually looking at them and admitting that perhaps they are... maybe... just a wee bit past their best, or in my case, long past their best and probably should have gone in the bin long ago.
This fact was brought home to me last week. A friend was coming over for lunch and feeling energetic and zealous, I decided to clean and polish in her honour. So naturally I donned my favourites and then got completely carried away into a full-scale spring clean - even though it is autumn and the light isn't as good - however, good enough for me I can tell you, as cleaning is not in my top ten of fun things to do.
So, the time whizzed by and my friend was at my door before I knew it. But as she's a friend I wasn't too worried about not looking my best, even though she was dolled up to the nines. Lunch was soon organised and we ate and talked with animation. Afterwards we repaired to the sitting room with our coffee and gradually I became aware of her staring at my feet. Not full-on staring, but her gaze slipping floorwards at intervals.
Now I'm a polite soul and not wishing to draw attention to this unusual behaviour, I kept my own counsel, but endeavoured to surreptitiously follow her gaze now and again. At first I could not see anything untoward. I still had two feet - firmly planted on the carpet - no cause for alarm there. Or was there? Suddenly, I saw what she saw and then she saw that I saw what she saw and she laughed in that joshing, embarrassed way people have when you catch them out in a mild social gaffe.
It turned out she was fascinated by the black shoelaces in my ancient, originally mauve and now-sort-of-brown, cracked leather shoes and the spectacular way they did not match. That was only the beginning. Apart from my very old brogues and corduroys, she is also fascinated by my Barbour jackets. They are so old and have been patched, repaired and re-waxed over more years than my memory can shake a stick to. So much so, they can stand up on their own now.
My friend is at a loss as to why I continue to wear my ancient shoes and even more ancient jackets. 'Why don't I go for the new season's styles and colours?' she asks. 'Could she throw out her old friends every year?' I reply. For my part, I cannot. I love every inch of my cracked old shoes and my patched old jackets, which I have been sending back to the manufacturers for loving repairs for the last thirty years.
So, here's to all old friends, the fashionable, colourful and well-shod and to the old-fashioned, plain and shabby ones. There is room for them all. My dustbin will stand empty for a while yet.