Given I’ve worked in the business of ‘stuff’ for a little while now, I care about what I wear, not for anyone else, just me. It’s my form of outward expression. That said, whilst trends fascinate, pay the bills and slip in here and there, I’ve long adopted a uniform.
I like beautiful things, items made by someone else become a part of me. Now beauty can be two-fold, there is the on-a-pedestal beauty – the 60’s Ferrari to be driven three times a year in perfect conditions – and the daily beauty. The Ferrari always seems a good idea, but for me, this life is too short, so I go for the daily.
At this point, I should explain that it’s been a while since I last slipped a socked foot into anything other than a pair of Edward Greens. My first were black single monks bought for a funeral and worn since with memory. From there, chocolate suede brogues for tactile stomping around town, then almond toed fence-hopping Chelsea boots, and the Dover, which I watched in Northampton being delicately hand-stitched and have worn since as far from delicately as possible. Loafers - tasselled and suede - for home, abroad and most places in between.
Deep Country, Mother of Pearl Clouds
Stepping away from the city and into nature allows us to re-connect with our sense of what is meaningful — all the more necessary in turbulent times. We join writer and photographer Daniel Jenkins for a walk in the wilds of Wiltshire, meditating on the appeal of functional beauty and his love of the Galway boot.
This morning, stood at the bottom of my valley, Mother of Pearl clouds and Apache gunships ahead, I caught the dog looking. Her head cocked with the “he’s thinking about when the normal wasn’t new” stare. Thoughts of where I’d be, who with, doing what and how much trouble caused. Instead, stood here, my thinking spot, where I go, just away from home, to stop and wonder.
This year, with its thick silence, has challenged. Long gone are the stepping out of the door pauses, dog snuffling as I watch the trees turn from green to jewel. Instead, the breeze brings thoughts of worry. A situation I’ve sought to control and curb through my brief moments of routine.
Since a small boy, my number one driving force has been the avoidance of continual routine, I wanted each day to be different, an adventure, not always good, but always something. A life filled with those moments high and low, which don’t just remind you that this world can be beautiful, it is. But, as a sentimental Celt, I’ve had little touchstones which remind me of who I am, where I come from and what the long-term goal is, and this year cut adrift from family and loved ones, they’ve taken an almost mystical hold. From things to doings, ideas unseen but important to me.
At home everywhere, mud, concrete, restaurant and field. Asking, begging, pleading to be worn, then forgotten, well, until catching that reflection. Sunbeams hitting the toe, briefly dazzled glimpse in windows and glinting puddles. I’ve crossed marble floors, stood caked in mud, even broken into the lightest of jogs and felt nothing other than me. In difficult, unsure times, they are a reminder of what has been and that I’ll just have to keep my head down and carry on through. I adored them in 75 Jermyn Street, proud sculptures on shelves, then at home, out of the box; that better than selling-houses-baked-bread-smell, and love them as they become mine.
Beautiful to start with but better over time, the miles walked and the life lived, as the colour deepens and cork footbed turns from smooth to an imprint of my sole. I can see, but not feel every journey made. The ultimate mix of practicality and beauty, go anywhere and be you. To be worn high or low, jeans or tailoring, to see The Queen or kick leaves.
The latest? My tied-up tight, go anywhere Galways on the 64 last, to some a touch extra room, to me, more Henry Moore curve, not writ from Bronze but walnut country grain leather which caresses raindrops.
Each beautiful precise stitch and curved line filled with generations of skill and craft. Nothing more than needed, no jazz or flourish, just the intended simplicity of those who need not prove their genius.
When we talk about ‘British’ there is a tendency towards twee and floral, warm frothy pints, handkerchiefs on heads, stale cakes and soggy sandwiches, the rain that never ends and spies around every corner. We forget the Great because this isn’t a nation of wet Wednesdays, but one filled with art, culture and give-a-toss attitudes, inclusive and quietly ambitious, and when we do things well, well they’re like Edward Green, built for lifetime affection.
Photos & text by Daniel Jenkins. See more of Daniel's work at purposeful-activity.com, which he calls "my extended love letter to the people, places and things from the UK which are worthy of your attention."