In a part of the corridor, just by the stairs by the front door, lies a pair of Old Black Boots. It’s been quite a while since they have been walking. Their leather is worn from the passing of time and many a moorland excursion. Lakeland water now pools at the toes.But they still feel right. As if once put on, they could take their owner from their Salford home out to the hills of Perpignan and back again, covering miles along the way and without a mutter or moan.
Now, Rugby boots and training shoes might be fine for a sportsman at Old Trafford but they don’t cut it on the fields of the West Yorkshire Moors. If these boots could talk, the tales they would tell – of covering rocky paths once stepped by Roman Legionaries, of campfire ditties sung round old ancient stones, and of moonlight illuminating mugs of steaming hot Beef Tea.
They’d sit outside tents so the groundsheet stayed clean, observing the melodic snoring around them. And leave their owner a morning surprise if they hadn’t been left under the flysheet. They would walk for miles as their owner crossed field and moor, praying that they would avoid the hidden cowpats. Of course they’d get cleaned on one day, just before parade, as the group amassed around a solitary flagpole.
And when they got home, they created a bit of a fuss. Left outside on the evening news on a step by the Garden lawn. Local politicians now have the boots treadmarks of mud and clay imprinted on them. But then again, wi’ these boots – they’ve no interest in politics – unless it’s rights to roam. The bucket and wire brush look threatening, next to the bin. But these boots know – you can scrub em till the cows come home – this mud sticks!
Where they’ll go next, is anyone’s guess. But for now – having had a ‘tidyup’ – they just sit on the varnished wooden shelf, looking quite a sight with dark brown Yorkshire mud entrapped in the soles. They look at themselves in the tall hallway mirror and think of the streams they’ve crossed and the moors they’ve run, the bracken broken for kindling and stiles climbed in fun.