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notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Sunday, February 22, 2004The shoe and the human tale behind it
Off Penny Lane today a child's shoe is lying in the road. I swerved my car to avoid it. As if it were a little animal, a precious live thing rather than an abandoned accoutrement or something lost in a human mini-tragedy.
As I span back from my third visit to the recycling bins I was grateful for the shoe in the road near Penny Lane. It humanised me, after an afternoon of forcing myself into scandalous decisions to ditch items which have been with me for years, ripping slumbering rooms to shreds, chucking bagsfull of familiar things into cold iron skips. Desensitized by tipping all my dusty stuff away I needed that shoe to bring me back.
The shoe made me wonder about the human tale behind it. Perhaps it had been chucked away in a similar purge. In a private rage or a public show of petulance. It may have been lost unwittingly - fallen out of someone's bag on their way home from the park. Or it could be witness to a harsher event - a mugging, perhaps, or a roadkill, or one of those nasty kids games where a stolen possession becomes a plaything for mocking bullies.
And it was as I passed the shoe that I got the answer I'd been pondering for days, to the question Jeremy Vine's been posing on his show, what is the greatest ever opening song line?
I had on the car stereo The Beatles' Let it Be. And, passing the shoe, thinking of the possible stories behind it - tragic, daft, simple, human - on came the title track. This disorientating afternoon music and a sense of place kept me rooted. Ripped-up and bin-brutalised, throat raw with dust, nevertheless in my heart I felt, yes, all things shall be well, as McCartney emoted the immortal opener, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me; speaking words of wisdom, let it be."