Working Class Student

Being a bit of a new student I thought I would embrace all things student-like and get myself some new clothes with me Student Loan. Now, living all me life in Holloway, I thought I would go down the Holloway Road because the stuff down there is quality stuff – and all at decent, honest bloke kind of prices. Armed with my new Switch card in one hand and my girlfriend, Tina, on the other arm (she was pushing our kids in their buggy with alarm, dodging the dog shit and refugees), I strutted down the Holloway Road greeting my old mates from my school sitting in some of the greasy spoons eating their lunch.

“Oi, Dave!” they grunted at me as I walked past, “you fink you’re something special now you’re a student, don’t cha?”

“I don’t think I’m nothing, mate. I’m just getting myself a bit of an education so I can jump straight into management position at Kwik Save. You aint seeing me on some poxy checkout.”

Anyway, first stop was the shoe shop. Now I know, yeah, that one of the main buys for students is shoes. Tina told me so.

“Dave,” she said, plying the kids with chocolate to shut the fucking things up, “you must get some new shoes. Nice ones. To go wiv yer Ben Sherman shirts you got down the market. Gotta look like you know stuff and you aint full of shit.”

I wondered if that meant that she thought I was. But I aint one to question her. She’s only 17, three years younger than me, and does her job brilliantly. Our kids are only noisy when they want somethink. Which is often. But again I am losing track. Keep getting pestered. Right.

So the shoe shop, yeah. I found some class shoes with a tiny bit of a heel for added height and I thought, ‘Nice one. Bargin.’ Cause while they were £30 quid they looked like a lot of time and effort had gone into making them – they were genuine leather and everythink. And because they were quality, nice Italian stuff, I didn’t mind handing over the dollars – although Tina got in a bit of a humph ‘cause we normally only stretch to £25 at a push for some shoes. But it was a special occasion. Start of my HND, innit.

I buy the shoes, and at Tina’s insistence (read bossiness) decide to wear ‘em home to break em in like. The shop assistant bird said that ‘cause they were leather they wouldn’t need no breaking in so I reckon that Tina just wanted to show me off in my new shoes on Holloway Road. I think I looked quite fit in em. In fact I know I did. So we’re walking down the road, right, when my left foot begins to ache a bit. The shoe on my left foot is properly squashing my toes and I’m getting a bit concerned.

“Ere, Tina,” I say to the missis, who is munching on Wotsits that the kids sucked on for a bit but then decided not to eat. “These shoes, yeah, they feel a bit tight.”

“You’ve gotta break ‘em in like I told ya,” she said to me, scratching her arse and breaking one of her false nails off in the process. “Keep on walking, yeah, and they’ll feel better. It’s ‘cause they’re real shoes and not cheap tack off the market.”

Tina knows about these things. So I walk on.

A few days later, after I come to University, enrol and meet all the twats on my course, I stand in dog shit. Slippery brown muck all over the road. Well nasty stuff. I get home, yeah, and make Tina clean my shoes for me.

“Ew, yuck, they like, stink,” she says to me in a whiny voice that she ain’t used since she was about 13 and she got pissed off with me trying to poke her while her brother was in the room. She cleans the shit off ‘em, and when I examine the soles to make sure she’s done ‘em properly, I notice that one of em says ‘9’ on the bottom and that the other says ‘8’. I’m a size 9. I then realise why the toes on my left foot have been throbbing uncontrollably.

“Oi Tina,” I yell to the missis, who is watching Tricia and is bawling her eyes out ‘cause some couple have just tied the knot on the telly.

“Why can’t we get married on telly like them there?” she snuffles at me, looking at her engagement ring I bought her from Argos for £200 (that pained me, that did).

“Never mind this wedding nonsense,” I said to her, wondering why she keeps on finking we’re gonna get married, “my shoes are two different sizes! That’s why my feet have been hurting, innit’.

Tina looks worried. “You can’t take ‘em back, you know?” she says. “You’ve worn ‘em. You’ve trod in dog shit.”

This well badly pisses me off. “But I kept the reciept ‘cause they were a proper piece of class clothing,” I say.

“It don’t matter Dave,’ she states, sounding bored. “You trod in dog shit and they ain’t gonna let you swap a small shoe for a bigger one – even if they did give you the wrong size in the first place.”

This is shit. I mean, you go to a top shoe boutique, they give you one shoe a size too small and then you can’t take the shoe back, just ‘cause you have trod in dog shit? What is that about? The bloody owner of the bloody dog should be paying for me to get some shoes to fit for fuck’s sake. I don’t need no education to tell me that this is wrong, that this is an injustice or whatever, but I am fuming.

If being a student is about being someone who takes a stand and starts campaigns to end nasty shit then this is what I stand for. I am not gonna let poncy shoe shop assistants with their expensive leather shoes treat me, a working class lad, like this. Especially not when I have paid £30 for the shoes in the first place. I could have got imitation leather ones for a tenner down the market. And they would ‘ave let me swap ‘em no hassle.