Recognition for a fine man

John Ray

I have always thought highly of Paul Brandon, my local bootmaker. He is very cheerful, friendly, hard-working and obliging and he undertook without hesitation the task of fitting longer straps to my kilt when I needed that done -- so I was pleased that the local Brisbane paper did a small spread on him in their Saturday colour magazine. I reproduce the story (by TRENT DALTON) and accompanying photo below. The story does portray him well.

Paul Brandon, 53, cobbler, Stones Corner

He speaks:

In 1969 I picked up a Saturday newspaper that was advertising three apprenticeships - one for a printer, a butcher and a shoemaker. I thought shoemaking sounded alright. It was better than school, anyway. I went to work for the Queensland Co-operative Boot Society making steel-caps, but I've made everything from dance pumps to firemen's boots and school shoes to stilettos.

In the '70s, I was one of the first people to make raised sandals out of layered rubber. I've since learned key-cutting and engraving. I learned engraving from the best in the business. This bloke, no word of a lie, could engrave The Lord's Prayer on a threepenny coin.

I've got five tools: my London hammer, my pinchers, my scissors, my drag knife and my knife. With those five tools I can fix anything. About 70 per cent of my business is women's heels. They'll wear out, but the lady won't want to throw the shoes out because they go with a pretty outfit. I can fix a heel in five minutes. That's my bread and butter.

It's a good life and I do alright out of it, let me tell you. I get on with everyone. I treat everyone well. Keep your words sweet because you never know when you'll have to eat 'em.

I have three kids, a daughter and two sons. I'm always repairing the daughter's shoes. She's a wild child, goes through a stack of shoes. My eldest boy, Sean, died when he was 19. I lost him to leukaemia. I miss him so much. It's five years gone, last month. Seany was a builder. He was diagnosed when he was 15 and went into remission after four months. Then, when he was 19, it came back with a vengeance. I still don't know why it happened. One day I might find out. My little baby. We'll be together again.

It's all good. Gee, I get some good tips here. I had a $40 tip once. This bloke used to work out in the mines, mining emeralds. He wanted to hide his stones in the mining campsites because he didn't want anybody stealing them. He had a pair of Cuban-heeled cowboy boots. I took the heels off, hollowed them out and put a little lip in there for a hiding spot. I charged him $60 for it. He handed me $100 and said keep the change. Come to think of it, actually, he might have been a drug smuggler.

Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of recent writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs (Backup here)
Go to Another picture page