Gangster Boris and the Gucci Shoes

Gucci always sells, she said, holding out a pair of shoes you’d be embarrassed to put inside your own bin in case the binman saw them. They weren’t her shoes originally; she got them from a friend. Those shoes did not belong to my friend’s friend, either: she bought them from a car boot sale for twenty pence. Inside, the soles have a curved moon of grey filth embedded into the leather. As dirty and as used as they are, she reckons they will sell. She reckons Gucci always sells.

I’m wondering, who actually buys that shit? The dirty old shoes, the soup-splattered fleece jumpers — it has to be pervs. Maybe somebody out there WILL buy that stained acrylic jumper with a German Shepherd painted onto the front, even if the moths have eaten holes in it, just so they can gnaw at the hard bits of beans dribbled down the front while they lovingly stroke their own genitals. (Maybe just me, then?).

However, unless you’re a perv, you don’t choose to buy used. Unless it’s totally lovely or totally vintage and even then, nobody’s going to want to touch it if the armpits are stained yellow and pungent, if the zip has gone, if the sleeve is ripped. Unless it’s, say, Victorian vintage, nobody tolerates receiving shit like that. You demand a refund, you send the item back, you leave negative feedback so that the circle of trust isn’t broken and Ebay doesn’t die. It’s not cool to sell things you wouldn’t be happy to receive. Me? I’d be ashamed to slip that shit into the charity shop bag, never mind ask somebody for money for it, even if it is pennies.

I remembered something then, from another life, but I just couldn’t tell her why I was laughing. I can tell you, though. You don’t know me.

I have a mate. Let’s call him… Boris. Now, Boris is a big man, a face, but he’s a terrible skin-flint, and he hates paying top whack for anything. He grew up in total poverty, and he’s got this doomsday prepper mentality: stocking up for a nuclear winter, has five of everything, just in case.

For sport, he sits up all night buying cheap shite on Ebay. He bought so much shit he ended up getting his cousin to run a stall in St John’s Market for him, to sell off all his gear, but that’s another story entirely.

Anyway, one day, Boris gets a parcel. A shirt he’d ordered from Ebay. Three pound fifty, he’d bought it as it was described as a “Gangster Shirt” in the listing and he thought that ironic. Regardless, Boris opens his package and inside, wrapped up, he finds a used pair of men’s socks secreted inside the shirt. Now, these socks weren’t just dirty (he had them in a cool-box in his boot when I saw him): the soles of these socks were so black it seemed they’d belonged to a chap who laid Tarmac without wearing his shoes. It also looked like that fella laying the Tarmac was on the job for six months and he only had one pair of socks. But the sight wasn’t the worst part, it was the stench. Once the lid came off that cool box you thought you were breathing in mustard gas, your eyes started watering, the full hit. Of course, I laughed and said, ‘lad, I wouldn’t be havin’ that. You have his address ’cause of Ebay: pay that fucker a midnight call”.

Boris doesn’t need to get his own hands dirty these days so he doesn’t get to play out much, and when I said what I said his beady little eyes lit up, which is perturbing. “Yeah, maybe I should. Fancy coming with me?”

I hoped saying ‘no thanks Boris’ would mean the end of it; he’d start his car, drive off, get embroiled in something important, but no.

The next I heard about it was on CrimeWatch: some guy in a small town was suffocated with a dirty pair of socks. They believed it could be a hate-crime: the sock-guy was big on the foot fetish scene and they knew he had a date planned that night, but the case stalled and was never solved. I contacted Boris to let him know his car was on CrimeWatch, but he’d already got rid: couldn’t get the smell out of his boot, he reckoned.

That year, for Christmas, what does Boris buy me…?

Yeah, socks. Henry Holland, black, with a gold chain effect in Lurex around the ankle. Lovely. Can’t bring myself to wear them, though.

Have listed them on Ebay.