I try and tune out from the thumping R'n'B and focus on the task in hand. A wall of trainers faces me, so it should be easy, but it's not really. I have had to push my way through rails of Kappa Polo shirts to make it this far, and haven't seen so much as a tennis ball yet in this so-called Sports Shop. Ahead of me now are hundreds of right-foot trainers, but they all look a bit... well, silly. Garish colours, crazy prices, and footwear designed for nothing more strenuous than loitering outside newsagents, it would seem. One trainer, adorned with graffiti, is actually sporting some sort of gold necklace. I note that it is retailing for just shy of £200.
Soon though I move out of the Urban Area, and I find the very small Sports Section of the Sports Shoe area in the Sports Shop. Now, I think to myself as my eyes wander, these seem a bit better, but I am not too sure about the colour schemes. After a few minutes, it dawns on me that I am looking at the Ladies section, and I sidestep discreetly.
My running shoes desperately need replacing, as for the last week it has sounded like I am running in flip-flops, such is the extend of their decay. My philosophy, when buying running shoes, is to just get something cheap. Something I won't mind to see fall apart, or start to pong. Some people gasp when I say this, worrying for the state of my knees, but really the best way to save your knees is to cycle or swim, not buy expensive trainers with twin-injected air-conditioned massage soles.
I see one which seem to fit the bill, and pick it up, and try to catch one of the Sports Shop urchins' eyes so as to try on its twin. I immediately seem to lock eyes with one, but he breezes past. Another one approaches me, looks at me, looks at the cheap trainer, and appears to suck his teeth at me before heading elsewhere. And it dawns on me: I am being ignored. I feel a bit like Pretty Woman. This continues for some 10 minutes, until, enraged, I place the trainer at a jaunty angle on the head of a mannequin and leave. They clearly messed with the wrong shopper, I reassure myself.
Two days later, I am in Norwich, and decide I can resume my trainer quest. Simultaneously eccentric and sensible, it's a city I feel I can do business with. I march into a Sports Shop, and within minutes am paying at the checkout. And, I note, there does not seem to be a single necklace-wearing trainer to be had in Norwich.
5 weeks ago