I'm starting to get a little nervous. On Tuesday I return to work for the first time since 28th December. Last week I went into Manchester to buy a new pair of shoes. Knowing exactly what I wanted - a pair of black, smooth top Doc Marten gibsons - I headed straight for the Doc Marten shop in the trendy Triangle centre. The man in the sports shop that used to be the Doc Marten shop told me that there hadn't been a Doc Marten shop there for years, he shook his head in a gentle, sad sort of way at my shopping innocence - he recognised a shopping yokel abroad. Directed up Market St, by the kind young man, I found Schuh: a revelation. Trendy, with shoes so outré that, twenty years ago, I would have killed to wear them. The music was brilliant - Oasis, Blur et al - and I felt right at home forgetting that my youthful vigour is retained only in the (numerically decreasing) neurons of my brain. I was, in the eyes of the assistants, a middle aged man buying boring shoes and trying to look trendy by singing along to the songs: I stopped singing and stuck to conversation with the assistant instead.
"The last pair of these shoes I had lasted eighteen years" I said, enthusing about the quality and comfort of Doc Martens. She gave me a withering look and only afterwards did I realise that, in all likelihood, her job depended on people buying shoes far more often that every eighteen years or so. I paid and left hastily but happy, wistfully wishing I could wear these for work instead: