This morning, I felt an odd sensation and looking down, I noticed my white felt slippers that are covered in blue and pink spots had acquired a new scarlet spot - my red-lacquered toenail poking through a hole. My comfy old slippers had had it. There was no patching them up as the fabric had worn too thin. Anyway, slippers aren't exactly expensive so I could afford a new pair.
But, as most of you will know, new slippers are never the same as your old ones. They are too stiff. They take time to mould to the contours of your feet so that they coddle them in a cosy cuddle. It's the same with gloves, yet gloves aren't quite so intimate, somehow. I have never not been able to part with a pair of gloves, but throwing worn-out slippers into the bin gives me a wrench akin to shutting one's beloved pet or helpless granny out in the rain and telling them never to darken your doors again. You couldn't do it.
So my hand, holding the slippers, hovered over the black plastic maw of the bin-liner time and time again, until at last, steeling myself, I thrust them well down and hid them under some sheets of greasy baking parchment. If I couldn't see them, I could pretend I'd never owned them, and if I had the sudden urge to pull them out again, I'd find them covered in grease and grot.
Mr Grumpy is made of less stern stuff than I am. Amongst his shoes are at least five pairs of worn-out slippers, with holes in soles and toes and stains on the fabric. Many's the time I've offered to chuck them out for him, only to be told that he'll do it when the time feels right. Some of them have been sitting there collecting cobwebs for ten years!
The only other thing that I find almost impossible to throw out is a cuddly toy. No matter that the bear, dog or tiger is noseless, eyeless and has stuffing poking out and ears falling off, it is still one's beloved Spot or Wonky and surely the sheer tattiness shows how much it's been loved.
And so with slippers. They clothe one's feet so often and so intimately that, after a couple of years of wearing them every night and sometimes all day, too, if I'm not going anywhere, I swear we swap DNA. To get rid of old slippers is to chuck out part of oneself. So... surely I must be able to scrub those grease stains off with the help of Vanish and as for the hole, well, there must be a large sticking plaster somewhere...