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Monday, 25 February 2013

Hang yourself with 'em? Never

Sermons in stones. I don't have a stone to hand and at 07.05 the garden, where there are plenty, isn't going to lure me out. How about shoe laces?

Practical and symbolic. A Shakespearean director given to dressing up characters in modern clothes could probably make a case for turning Malvolio's garters into shoe laces. With my best wishes. I have never found a single laugh in the humiliation scenes of Twelfth Night. Laces might work.

They go back a long way, laces, but I refuse to Google. If Ye Olde movies are to be believed many a Mediaeval bum would have been exposed to public view had laces been uninvented. Their simplicity and usefulness presaged the zip and they were the subject of a horror story that terrified my youth. Gurkhas in WWI (probably anachronistically) slithered up to soldiers on guard-duty and fingered the lacing on their boots before deciding to eviscerate or not. The Germans, it seemed, did it differently. A crossed-over pattern meant you lost your tripes.

Laces define old age. Nancy Banks-Smith, ex-Guardian TV critic, said once you need to sit down to put on your shoes it’s time to start withdrawing from life. I agree. Recently I discovered a laces flaw. They become shiny and thus prone to untie. Which means re-tying on the pavement, risking being bumped by a short-sighted pedestrian. An ignoble accident.

I learnt to tie a bow at an early age and I wasn't alone. There's more to it than nimble fingers. Anyone who lets go of the formed loop during tying is ignorant of presdigitation and would have been rejected by Bletchley Park. I'm guessing.

I wore casuals at work then retired into trainers. Knotting laces early in the morning is a burden and a physical link with Toryism.

6 comments:

Occasional Speeder said...

Someone tried to put laces in Room 101 recently - a comedian, probably nearer 40 than 30 - who still couldn't tie them correctly.

I hate to hark back to the saintly Zac - but when trying to teach him again to do his the other day - he sighed and said "I just think it's something I will never ever be able to do." I mentioned that he did not see the mothers of the Arsenal team run on the pitch to retie their boot laces and therefore he needed to learn to avoid humiliation. His reply was "Maybe THEIR mums tie them properly before the match..."

Sir Hugh said...

A subject of major importance. I walk, seriously. Laces undoing cannot be tolerated.

The solution:

After forming the first loop you normally take one turn round it before forming the second. TAKE TWO TURNS instead. It is a little bit more tricky, but you will find the laces very rarely come undone and the benefit (avoidance of ignoble accidents), far outweighs the irritation of extra fiddle.

I have shown this tip to many people, but for reasons I cannot analyse few seem to take it up - perhaps it’s the human innate objection to change, or dislike of being told what to do by another.

Joe Hyam said...

Shoes or laces or both are not what they were. I've tried the double bow but it doesn't always last. Or could it be me? Surely not.

Sir Hugh said...

Joe h. It is not a matter of tying another knot in the already formed two loops . You put an extra turn round the first one.

Roderick Robinson said...

OS: Sums up my grandson. I can hear his voice, especially the emphasis on "their". Soon he will be outside your philosophical league.

Sir Hugh: The situation may be aesthetic rather than practical. If I found myself having to let go of the loop to effect your double turn I would almost certainly prefer to continue, enduring the "loose lace evil". Bow-tying is an art as well as a secure practice, equivalent to grace notes in music. Were I given to traversing mountain passes on a llama (Note the reference) I might give in since the penalty could be life-threatening. But not when the mountain pass becomes Dorchester Way. A knotty point, your might say.

Sir Hugh/Joe: Longer laces permit a more secure double bow.

Ellena said...

Interesting topic. Shoe-Lacepassion!
Just saying Hi and always reading you.