The recent Arctic conditions have forced me to wear my hiking shoes for all expeditions, however trivial. They’re fine shoes, with the one problem that the laces come undone with annoying frequency. This is also a problem with a pair of formal black shoes I own, and has been a minor irritant over the years with various items of footwear. But because it has not been with all items of footwear but only some, I always blamed the individual shoes.
On Friday, exasperated by a walk punctuated with lace-tying stops, I googled the problem of shoelace slippage and found Ian, who appears to to be the world’s leading exert on shoelace-related matters. To my utter amazement, it became clear that everything on this page directly applied to me and therefore that for the whole of my life I have been tying my shoelaces incorrectly!
Since childhood I have been folding the second bow over rather than under the first. I changed my method there and then, and the problem has been solved at a stroke.
The revelation was astounding, humiliating, liberating. I march into the new decade a changed man, confident in the security of my shoelaces, freed from the necessity of constantly stooping to retie, but also obliquely unnerved. An only life can take so long to climb clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never - oh, what bitter truth in Larkin's words! If shoelaces, then what other deeply ingrained habits, what other fundamental routines of my daily life have been wrong, half-cocked, misconceived all along? Perhaps it is better to remain in ignorance.