Friday, February 19, 2016

Boots: The Factoids

It is worth noting before we start that boots are really a fairly recent innovation. They came out of the need by armies for tougher footwear for marching over rough terrain and carrying heavy loads for battle. Roman foot soldiers wore leather sandals and officers wore buskins, with the higher the ties, the more senior their rank.

In ancient Greek Society noisy boots always had a following. Many dandies wore half boots or Karbatinai which made the stones under foot ring as they walked. Amazon Indians dipped their feet and legs in latex to produce a tight fitting waterproof boot which protected their skin against thorns and insect bites.

In the fourteenth century one of the most popular clergy in England was a fellow by the name of Sir John Shorne. He was the rector of North Marston between 1290 to 1314 and his claim to fame was he trapped the devil in one of his boots. There are many contemporary woodcuts (prints) which show him holding the trapped demon. Unfortunately for us all, when Sir John died, he lost grip of the boot and allowed the devil to escape.

At this time it was considered an act of piety to burn a candle at his shrine. Those who burnt two candles however were thought to do to honour the devil. Sir John Shorne is better known to us today as, "Jack in the box."

A boot containing a tiny, savage bull is supposed to be buried below the doorstep of an old church in Hyssington, Wales. If the step is ever moved the bull will escape. The mini bull will quickly grow and terrorise the village according to the legend.

Michelangelo (1475-1564) was thought to have worn a pair of dog hide boots when he painted the Sistine Chapel. At the end of the enormous task he had to peel the boots off from his skin because he had never taken them off to bathe.

The Macaronis (fops or dandys) in London added new joy to life by wearing heel tips which clinked on the cobbled streets.

In Proust book in Proust's book A la Recherche du temps perdu he made reference to a dandy called Swann, who insisted in always having his expensive boots polished with Champagne.

Wellington boots were made from leather and worn by the Duke at the Battle of Waterloo. They took the public imagination and reference to them appears` in a William Moncrieff play (1817). People started to wear them in honour of the Duke from 1851, the year before the Duke died.

Henry Cooper, the great white hope who knocked down Cassius Clay stopped polishing his boxing boots early in his career after losing fight with shiny boots.

Willy Pastrano, World Champion light heavyweight in the mid 60s tied his wedding ring to his left bootlace as a lucky mascot.

Mukluks are made from seal, moose or walrus skin and worn by North American Induit people living in the Artic regions. The hair was worn next to the skin for warmth. In preparation women chewed the leather to soften the skin.

Reviewed 20/02/2016

Warmest Boot in the World: Steger Mukluks