Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Farewell to the desert boot man.

News has just reached us that the creator of the world’s greatest shoe has died. You can take your brogues, sneakers, sandals and gumboots. As far as this writer is concerned, the most magnificent of all shoes remains the classic …

Mon, Jul 4, 2011, 22:25

   

News has just reached us that the creator of the world’s greatest shoe has died. You can take your brogues, sneakers, sandals and gumboots. As far as this writer is concerned, the most magnificent of all shoes remains the classic suede desert boot. Nathan Clark, great-grandson of Clark’s Shoes’ founder, actually died on June 23rd, but The Guardian only got around to running his obituary today. The piece explains that, contrary to popular belief, they were not exactly worn by the Eighth Army in the desert campaign. It seems that South African soldiers had them run up in Cairo to replace a class of voortrekker boot.

The author’s feet, yesterday.

At any rate, shortly after Mr Clark invented the fine garment in 1947, they began their erratic journey from lounge-lizard wear to beatnik accessory to Aldermaston-march essential and so on. They are very rarely entirely in fashion — the awful Britpop boom was one exception — but they are never completely out of fashion either. A fantastically comfortable shoe that is simple to lace-up (even when drunk) and stylish with every class of trouser, the desert boot is a friend that will never let you down. If you fancy smoking a French cigarette while reading T S Eliot and listening to Charles Mingus then this is the ideal footwear. Indeed, alongside Coleman’s Mustard, Tabasco Sauce and Marmite, they are one of the few products without which life would not be worth living.

Happy to relate, the late Mr Clark (no suburban “e” for him) remained a fan of his own excellent creation throughout his long life. ”I wear the shoes myself and never doubted they were going to be a winner,” he said. I would wear them to the Galway Film Fleadh tomorrow in tribute, but I think it’s going to rain. Never mind. A version in leather is available.