I’ve mentioned before that we have so many ‘products’ and the materials and fabrics we have are so designed to be ‘easy-clean’ that many of the chores which our parents and grandparents did as a matter of course, we re totally ignorant of. A stain on our trousers – some squirt or foam will sort that out! A mark on our trainers? A quick scrub with a baby-wipe (yes really, baby-wipes are just the job!) and the mark disappears. Something like grass, mud, wine is in evidence on some item of clothing and in a trice it is gone!
In the past, cleaning involved actual effort… and in fact, that effort could be enjoyable, for its own sake, but also because the end result was so pleasing. Ruth Drew, writer and journalist, found a great deal of pleasure in ordinary domestic tasks – and that, no doubt, is why she wrote her articles and scripts, later brought together in the posthumously published book, The Happy Housewife.
Shoes: – Anyone can do the job,providing they’re prepared to spare the time and trouble. But only the enthusiasts know what a pleasure show polishing can be. The clean fresh smell – the rhythmic to and for movement – not too hard – just a steady loving massage – and then the satisfaction of seeing the leather come to life. Very rewarding.
What are the essentials for successful shoe cleaning? To begin with it’s worth investing in proper equipment – comfortable-to-grip brushes – really soft dusters – and perhaps a velvety pad for finishing touches. And of course it pays to buy the best quality polish and to keep the lids properly on the tins and jars. otherwise you’re faced with cracked dried-up stuff which drops crumbily on to the floor instead of sliding creamily over the shoe leather. But – and it’s an important but – it’s a common mistake to use too much polish. You need just the light dip of a duster-covered finger-end for a whole shoe. And then plenty of steady light rubbing. On the whole it’s best to use coloured polish – brown for brown shoes, blue for blue and so on. But a tube of white cream is worth having because it does for all colours and it’s easy to pack when you’re travelling.
I often think it was a different world… packing shoe cleaning equipment never even occurs to me when I’m going on holiday!