Opinion

A walk on the rubbery side

By John Lewis

I've been doing a lot of walking lately because there's been a lot at stake - health, style, politics and shoes.

The council's Get Mooving Challenge has been an inspiration on all four fronts, particularly shoes.

The correct walking shoes are vital when you have a bunion, a dog that employs shoulder-wrenching acceleration when passing fence posts, popular plants and other dogs, and a companion 40 years younger preparing for a place in the Olympic speed-walking team.

A good walking shoe allows you to pivot faster than a masseuse in lockdown, and can set the tone for polite exchanges along the walking route.

When you're standing two metres away from someone, you notice things likes shoes.

The wrong shoe, such as slippers or Ugg boots can give the impression you are not treating the walk seriously or that you've just left the house for an emergency toilet paper run.

I thought I had hit the right note with my comfortable, but slightly ‘gangsta’, black lace-up runners. But then they started to rub in the wrong places and I couldn't see why sports shoes are called runners.

The last time I ran anywhere was 1971 when the first Led Zeppelin record arrived in my hometown.

Anyway, I dug around in my lost shoe drawer and came up with a pair of black and white Nikes discarded years ago because they made me look like an aspirational athlete instead of a rock poet

But now that I actually was an aspirational athlete they seemed the perfect choice.

They had an edge of daring-street-parkour to them.

Passers-by would treat me seriously.

They would look at my shoes and realise this is a man who walks the talk. He's not just being dragged around by his dog. He leads from the front and uses his walking time to solve burning social issues of the day.

Halfway into the walk, just as I was about to come up with the perfect answer to the Australian Government's assault on critical thinking and lifelong learning, I felt something slapping the sole of my left foot.

I looked down and saw the heel of my edgy parkour runner had separated from the shoe. It flapped as I walked. I sounded like a stumbling drunk on thongs.

There was no going back. By the time I had developed a funding policy for free education and health along the lines of Finland, the sole of my right parkour-funky-shoe had separated and fallen completely away.

The Nikes had been kept in a bottom drawer through several sweltering summers and freezing winters which had baked the rubber to powder.

I was now walking on black woollen socks and leaving a trail of white rubber behind me.

It was a head-turning moment for a few passers-by. But I was too absorbed in finding answers to the new right-wing Barbarianism to notice.

By the time I arrived home my feet were encased in an odd combination of white laces and rubbery black socks.

I resolved never to walk on half-baked shoes again.

The same goes for ideas.