Sole man is brought to heel

“I DON’T mind going to Guantanamo Bay,” I volunteer. Jane shoots me her laser-beam look: an equal mix of disdain and bafflement. “You know – that shoe shop that rhymes with Guantanamo... Brantano. That’s it!” “I wish you wouldn’t call it that.”

“It’s the only way I can remember it. And, anyway, someone in this household has to slip droll little drops of emollient into the furnace of daily life. I shall brook no criticism, for I am making the ultimate sacrifice: I shall spend Father’s Day going shopping with my teenage daughter.”

In truth, there’s no alternative. Emma urgently needs shoes for school. Sending her to shop with her mother would be like waving John Terry and Fabio Capello off on a fortnight’s package holiday. Together. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Actually, I don’t mind. We don’t get to spend much time away together, so it’s a novelty. And I don’t mean any offence towards Brantano. It’s actually my favourite shoe shop. Bright and welcoming; lots of space; vast stock. Best of all, shoes of the same size are grouped together and clearly signposted. You can’t go wrong. (And, no, I don’t own shares in the firm.)

Only, Emma isn’t 100% taken with anything she sees. Well, that’s not strictly true: she delights in trying on all kinds of footwear like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters on Red Bull. Massive heels that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Slade circa 1972 are admired, along with purple shoes with big bows, a rainbow pair, a gloriously red combo and oodles more in similar vein. And it’s actually fun – like opening the dressing-up-clothes box for adults. (Not that I tried to force my size 12 plates of meat into these delicate creations, of course.)


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As a man, you’re generally limited to black, brown, and chunky. For a woman, it’s like tearing open a packet of Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts and revelling in the variety. Today, though, there is little suitable – in Emma’s eyes – for the classroom.

We head into town. Once, every second shop sold shoes; now every second shop is a 99p bazaar. Forty-five minutes later I’ve exhausted my not-so-extensive knowledge of shoe emporiums, we’ve drawn a blank and we’re weary. We return to... Brantano and buy a “banker” pair spotted earlier as possibles. They’re fine – decorated by funny little zips – and, most crucial of all, pronounced comfortable by she who matters. Shame we didn’t take them earlier...

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Back home, Jane casts a critical eye. “I’m surprised you let her choose some with heels that high,” she declares. But I expect they’ll do.”

Now where have I heard that tone before? I know: it’s Fabio Capello . . .

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