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Against a midnight mohair backdrop, hanging to air on the wardrobe door, in the half-light shadows like a voyeur, the disc drops. Gathering speed as the arm swings out before lowering itself, like a practiced lover, gently into the groove. That moment’s promise is there. The great suggestion that we are about to receive something so pure; so vital, like life itself.
A fine crackle like a lightning storm at the very edge of your hearing, teases the senses. Momentum achieved, the orange Duke label spins so I can no longer read either title or artist, but after the first hi-hat rise and bass note chasing the chiming scales downwards I’m in familiar territory and the anticipation of the sweetest voice, like chocolate, like velvet, like the greatest of riches, all you could ever want for…
I pick up the soft cloth; dipping a corner into the waiting cup of warm-water. Letting its warmth invade the cloth enough to add to the polish as the mixture is placed upon the leather and small circular caresses gliding ever outwards as that voice hits the very core of me. Not merely Bobby Bland, but Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland… with a voice that hits those; oh-so-rare, bluest of notes. The ones that set the hairs on the back of your neck quivering in recognition – the seduction complete, the idle circles, smooth and effortless like leather soles on a wooden sprung-dance floor. Like a lover’s fingers; deft, sensual, keen, earnest and yearning, sweet… so very sweet…
Two-minutes and forty-five seconds later and in the dream-state it’s a blink of an eye and it’s a lifetime all the same. The shoes are dull and matt with small wispy clouds of polish. I set the shoes down and click the replay switch. A quick check that the coast is clear and I drop a couple of bombers as the mechanical clunks and whirrs ready themselves for another pull at the very core of me. The cloth is switched to the dry end and I start to press harder, buffing the leather, like a spinning dancer, gathering pace as the tune reaches its imploring crescendo.
The harsh clicks and whirrs a distant memory, so discordant after the emotive swell of soul, now replaced by the silence that screams through the room. The only sound the vague monotone buzz from the Dansette, matching the one from the Durophet. I inspect my handiwork. The shoes catch the light, shining, and glistening. I roll them slowly, devouring the glossy radiance. Yes! They’re ready! I’m ready! I lower them gently into the waiting mouth of my bag. Open like a lover’s arms.
Satiated, I light a cigarette, breathing out slowly, watching the neon-blue smoke chasing its myriad tails, tumbling blindly, before climbing leisurely towards the ceiling, consigned to history and memory – but who needs memories? It’s the promise to come that’s important, not even tomorrow; it’s the promise of tonight that’s essential – vital as life itself!
Stompers… shoes with Soul!