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Swellboy on… the tale of the pigskin shoes

A shoemaker who is too scrupulous for his own good

Swellboy on… the tale of the pigskin shoes

Image: Brijesh Patel

July 24 2010
Nick Foulkes

I have just had a visit from Eric Cook. Eric is a shoemaker of genius as well as an honest, if eccentric man, evidence of all of which was apparent today.

Some time ago I had ordered a pair of pigskin slip-on shoes, a woeful deficiency in my shoe cupboard that had been in need of correction for decades. Said porcine footwear arrived, was tried on and pronounced exquisite by me, only for Eric to tell me that I could not have them. The reason he offered was that, while dampening the leather, one or other of the uppers had dried too rapidly and the pores of the hide of one shoe had become larger than on the other. It would have needed a forensic scientist to spot it, but sure enough he was right.

That is the other thing about Eric: he has been making shoes for me for years and he knows that sooner or later, probably while burnishing them to a lambent shine, I would have spotted this discrepancy. Now I may be more of a cynic than even Antisthenes, but I imagine that many less scrupulous people might have been tempted to say nothing and allow me to find out later. As for Eric: honesty will have to be its own reward, as he has now promised to make me a new pair, leaving him with a surplus pair of different-pore-sized pigskins.

See also

People, Shoes, Eric Cook