Thursday, 25 October 2012

Buy New Shoes for St Crispin!

Today is the Feast of St Crispin, when a handful of stout-hearted English archers beat the mighty French army at Agincourt way back in 1415. Remember Henry V, and Shakespeare, and that stirring speech? But St Crispin is also the patron saint of shoemakers (or one of them – there's St Hugh as well). According to legend he and his brother Crispinian were Romans, who were martyred in Gaul, where they preached the Gospel by day and made shoes by night – which is why he has special significance for shoemakers.
In Medieval times shoe and boot makers were given the day off, for feasting and celebration, but since you are likely to be give a holiday, I suggest you mark the occasion by buying new shoes! And you could read 'The Elves and the Shoemaker', by the Brothers Grimm, which is one of my favourite fairy tales, or 'The shoes of Salvation', by Edward Monkton, which is a very small and very funny cartoony book about a woman who buys uncomfortable, expensive shoes, but she doesn't care because they make her feel so good!
Shall I wear cheerful pink sneakers to celebrate St Crispin?

You could get in the party mood by listening to Elvis singing Blue Suede Shoes and, if you can get hold of it, you could watch the old black and white classic 'Hobson's Choice', starring the late, great Charles Laughton in one of his funniest roles, and a young John Mills as bootmaker Will Mossop, whose life is turned around when the boss's eldest daughter takes a fancy to him. You could watch Red Shoes, with Moira Shearer (another wonderful old movie) but personally I think it's much too sad to be celebratory.

I can't think of any food featuring shoes. I did once read that during the seige of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of the 19th century starving residents boiled leather shoes and ate them, but I don't think that's to be recommended. What about choux buns? It's spelled differently, and it's nothing to do with footwear, but it sounds the same, and choux buns (with cream) are one of life's great pleasures.

So there you are, lots to choose from to celebrate St Crispin. And if you're not a shoe enthusiast, why not turn to Shakespeare - read Henry V, or better still watch the Kenneth Brannagh film.
From 'The shoes of Salvation', by Edward Monkton

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