Remember this from Joseph Cheaney’s?
Dear Mr Gowans,
Thank you for your email.
Although we ship worldwide we only currently offer shipping to selected countries. Unfortunately Angola is a country that we are unable to ship to at present.
Internet Sales CoordinatorCheaney Shoes Ltd
Having survived twenty years in Africa I wasn’t about to allow simple idleness to prevent me slipping my feet into a well-made pair of boots. Having been told to march off at the high port by Cheaney’s, I wasn’t about to waste any more time trying to buy a pair of their boots either, thus ending our thirty seven year relationship.
As all young officers soon learn, if anyone tells you something is impossible, check with the Regimental Sergeant Major, only on his say so is it really impossible. Appropriately, I found that the boots I wanted were also made by a man called Alfred Sargent. He can’t spell his own surname but he does make very good boots.
Given the lethargy of UK suppliers, I was a little dismayed to discover that Alfred Sargent Zug Grain Veldt Boots are about as rare as hen’s teeth. If Cheaney’s was an attitude endemic among Northamptonshire boot makers, the chances of me finding a supplier sympathetic to the logistic problems of getting a pair to me in Angola were slim. I wasn’t holding my breath then, when I wrote to Tredders of Castle Ashby, Suppliers of Fine Footwear. Once again I explained that I lived in Angola and was in urgent need of a pair of decent boots.
I didn't think it possible to receive a reply shorter even than that of Mr. Pugh at Cheaneys but I did:
No problem Tom,
It is my pleasure.
Will you be paying by credit/debit card?
Glen BogleTredders Quality Footwear
Tel: 0845 121 4012
Tredders ofCastle Ashby have their own regular shipping agent with whom they and their clients are very satisfied but Mr. Bogle was nevertheless pleased to obtain a shipping quote from my preferred shipper, DHL Express, and was shocked, he wrote to me, at the price they quoted. I wasn’t, I had provided him the link to DHL and knew they wanted £172.95. But, the man who was beginning to test my heterosexuality (I was overcome with an inexplicable urge to have his babies) went on to say he had approached his regular shipper and had asked him to try and get a better quote from DHL, he’d get back to me. Gosh! Eight minutes later another email from the soon to be canonized Mr. Bogle popped into my in box. Express shipping with DHL would be £95. Double gosh and a jolly good dollop of Golly!
I would have been grateful just to find a supplier willing to sell me the boots and let DHL come and collect them. Instead I had Saint Glen of Castle Ashby performing miracles for me. If he bent any further backwards, he’d be picking gravel out of his ears. Not only was I going to cheat the Chancellor of his twenty pieces of silver, DHL were not going to charge me the leg I needed to usefully employ the pair of boots they were sending me.
Tredders of Castle Ashby’s commitment to customer service is evident, even in their choice of location. They’re on the Castle Ashby estate no doubt, so that the Marquess of Northampton’s footman doesn’t have too far to walk to collect his master’s new boots, as well as providing an appropriate environment in which other clients can road test their quality footwear.
|My new Alfred Sargent Zug Grain Veldt Boots and a blade appropriate to the boot style|
You may have noticed I haven’t yet mentioned the boots now in my possession, instead using up my store of superlatives on Tredders of Castle Ashby. The thing is, I am not the first expatriate whose desire for old country quality has been thwarted by individuals unwilling to lift even a finger to execute an order in any way unusual, so the discovery of a supplier not only traditional in the quality of its products but also, despite the laziness displayed by other on line outlets, still providing a traditional customer service is something worth banging a drum for.
|The lovely Angie, one of three young followers of St Glen of Castle Ashby |
all eager to help you slip into something comfortable.
I have it on good authority they are black belts in Sokushindo
I asked for and paid their invoice and, six days later, I am wearing the boots I wanted, the boots they had much pleasure selling me and I had great pleasure in buying. There’s no question of Alfred Sargent’s boots not being worth the money. Like their shoes, they are hand made in Northampton using quality leather to a very high standard. My boots are constructed using the Veldtschoen method, which is traditional for English country and hiking boots being sturdy, comfortable and waterproof. The last pair of Veldtschoens I had lasted over thirty years and these Alfred Sargents should do the same. The boots they replaced I had bought in a hurry and they were the best I could get at the time. They were cheap (?!) at £145.00 and guaranteed for life.
Yes, the manufacturer, Doc Martens, guaranteed that if the boots failed in my lifetime they would repair or replace them. Three years into the rest of my life the sole separated from the uppers. But the boots giving up the ghost was only the end of a sorry saga. I quickly found while walking through the bush that every thorny bit of vegetation I stepped on would pierce through the air cushioned sole effectively nailing the branch to my foot. After a couple months the boots looked shabby and no amount of polish improved the situation.
|A false economy|
No amount of polish could stop them leaking either. After a year or so the what can only be described as cardboard insole perished and the soles were so perforated and flat that instead of the air cushioned ride I was promised, stepping on ants bruised my feet. They were a complete waste of money and one of the reasons I never bothered to test their guarantee. I will never wear a pair of Doc Martens again. The other reason, of course, was that it would cost me more to send the boots back than they were worth. My Alfred Sargents, on the other hand, will only have to last me six years and they will work out cheaper than the Doc Martens.
I have been wearing my Alfie Esses all day and even though they are new, they are very comfortable. They do make a bit of a clumping noise as I walk across the wood floors of the cottage. This annoys Marcia but to me is quite reassuring; they are obviously sturdy enough to be snake proof but with the seismic they create, any snake in the vicinity will have buggered off long before I get to squash it into the ground. As for the Goodyear welted sole, it’ll be nice to take a walk in the bush without worrying about my feet being pinned to the countryside.
Marcia has found all this fuss over a pair of boots quite amusing but, being a girl, it is as hard for her to understand how important a single pair of good boots is to a man as it is for a man to understand why a woman needs more shoes than there are days in a year. She had the last word as I sat down to type this.
‘I suppose we shall be burying you in your new boots then?’
No you bloody won’t, I thought, these will be passed down to Alex.
|Alex road testing my boots waving another sword appropriate to his shirt|