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The Potter

Looking back he realised that she had always been a bit of an urchin, this girl.

The first thing that he had ever noticed about her was her hair. There was a lot of it - very dark, wild, almost black. In the smoky, fuzzy heat of the nightclub she was almost invisible. Except for her eyes and her smile.

“What do you do?” she asked.

He normally lied. His favourite line was that he was a panel beater by trade. It was simply not worth telling people what he really did. People did not understand and it took too long to explain. This time though he took the risk of telling the truth.

“I am a potter.”

“What kind of pots do you make?” a question asked with big smile. She has a lot of teeth, he thought.

“I am an alchemist,” he said. “I turn copper into gold.”

Later, when she told him that it was time for her to go, he walked behind her up the steps to the door of the club. The skirt that she was wearing was long and black and buttoned up the back. With each step, the buttons separated slightly and as she walked he caught a glance of her underwear. She was wearing white pants and black stockings with a pink suspender belt. Somehow the fact that her lingerie was so mismatched comforted and reassured him. She was neither immoral nor frivolous.

That was in October.

The coldest months in Scotland are January and February. There are around seven hours of daylight on a Scottish January. On the day that he takes her shopping a cold wind whips up and down Buchanan Street. She is wearing a pair of tight jeans with black suede ankle boots. The boots have little heels and are quite worn down. For a few days, he has been watching these boots with uncomfortable fascination. Today he asks:

“Why are you wearing plastic bags on your feet?”

“I have holes in my boots.”

“Can’t your parents afford a pair of boots for you?”

She looks uncomfortable. “I don’t want to hassle them for new shoes,” she says.

So here they are, on a cold wet Glasgow winter’s day. In Russell &Bromleys in Princes’ Square in Glasgow. A posh shopping centre if you like; nothing more or less. But touchingly, she is impressed, exuberant, excited.

“Choose something,” he says. “Choose anything you like”.

Her eyes shine. She examines the shelves. Leather brogues, she chooses. Boys’ shoes. Practical shoes chosen willingly for the first and the last time.

After this, she becomes braver and bolder in her choice of shoes. Through time the shoes that she chooses to wear became an extension of her personality, a charming self-defining obsession. But that first pair of cognac leather lace up brogues that he bought for her was the start.

Accordingly to popular superstition, it is bad luck to buy a pair of shoes for the one that you love. To do so gives her the means by which to walk away from you. But here she is still, after 22 years, copper waiting to be turned into gold.

words: Megan Macgregor


January 19, 2010 at 12:16 PM just me said...


And brogues are sensational :)

January 19, 2010 at 12:17 PM Jayne said...

So evocative. Beautiful work.

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