I have an idea.
I am going to trawl the streets every late afternoon collecting all the lost shoes of the day and keep them until an exhausted and distraught mother turns up to collect them. I will publish my phone number so people can ring to inquire if I have the matching opposite in their size. Seriously. I think I will call it Shoes Reunited.
Since Snooks’ birth 17 months ago we have lost the following:
· one white bear - a Christening present
· one white silk shoe – a Christening shoe, later found
· one cardy (mine actually, fell off handle of buggy)
· two cups – plastic Tommee Tippee, green and blue
· one blue bunny hat – birth present from Snooks’ aunt
· two muslin cloths with teddy bear pattern
· one football bearing the legend “Genius Dolphins” (found in Greece. Lost in south London)
· the buggy’s ‘cosy toes’ (later found in Sainsbury toilet. Huge relief)
· two beloved shoes, size 4
There will be more by the time you read this.
Most of these items were dropped or left behind in locations very near our home but had vanished by the time I returned to retrieve them. Where do they go? Who spirited away our blue bunny hat? Why?
You remember the excitement over the new shoes ( shoe love)? Yes well since then there have been another new pair in a larger size, followed by a pair of sandals because the posh new shoes were lovely but too warm for summer, followed by another pair because one of the sandals went missing in Marks and Spencer.
Well until this week, we were up to shoes number four, an adorable, unfeasibly cute pair of canvas lace up pumps. They were navy with red and green stripes along the side and they had distinctive (and apparently very cool) red soles. They were known as Snooks’ Linus shoes because he bore such a strong resemblance to the Charles M Schulz Peanuts cartoon character of that name when he wore them.
It is almost too painful to retell but here goes.
Snooks and I had stopped off at our favourite café one hot afternoon last week after a long journey to visit the Engineer at his place of work. The day had been a great success. Trains had been caught on time (amazing, considering the variables). Strangers had been found to help carry the buggy up and down the stairs at the station (don’t get me started). The Engineer’s work colleagues had been suitably entertained by Snooks’ astonishing resemblance to his father and fascination for mechanical objects. All was well.
I was enjoying a bracing cup of Earl Grey, while Snooks careered about with a resident tractor, the cafe’s main attraction for him.
Now I distinctly remember removing his shoes and socks during a tantrum (his not mine) brought on by my touching the tractor to try to lure him out of the path of an incoming super-buggy being pushed by the type who often frequent the place – pearls, designer jeans, fall-down up do, subtle but effective make-up, chunky wedding ring.
I have whiled away many an hour since Snooks was born, observing these awesome uber-mums over afternoon tea, noting their universal tendency to speak without revealing their teeth.
Anyway, the superbuggy is heading for Snooks, unaware of his presence on the floor. I swoop in to move him, tantrum ensues and I decide to pack up and leave, covered in confusion and embarrassment.
So you can guess. In the mayhem, I packed everything into the bottom of the pram, while holding a screaming Snooks and somehow left one of the gorgeous shoes behind.
My reaction when I discovered the omission on our arrival home an hour later was such that Snooks stopped what he was doing and stared at me with the expression he reserves for crying newborn babies.
As I returned from a second trip to the café that day, having retraced our steps there and back, having asked in all the shops along the same road if anyone had handed it in, I resorted to the time-honoured method for finding missing objects. I prayed to St Anthony.
Moments later I spotted a child’s shoe on a fence, not our shoe but a similar one, same style, canvas, striped, size four.
As I examined it, wondering if somehow ours could have morphed into this cute little thing, a man came up behind me and said he had seen a similar shoe further down the road.
Without asking more I ran in the direction he pointed until I arrived at the other, identical shoe, also carefully placed on fence.
He caught up, carrying the first shoe in his hand.
“They are not ours,” I said, flat with disappointment. “I did not realise you meant it was the same shoe.”
“Yes but if they fit, why don’t you have them? Noone is going to go looking for a pair of shoes they have lost.”
Could St Anthony come with an eye-patch and a little black pug dog? Or is that the other guy?
Either way I made a pact. If our Linus shoe turns up, I’ll put these back.
Are you listening up there?