It was 2004 and it was a shop in Elizabeth Street in Brisbane that no longer exists. I wish it did as I would really like another pair of boots identical to these ones but much, much newer and ideally in black not a very dark brown. These boots were made for walking. They are incredibly comfortable. They have also been incredibly badly treated and are nearing the end of their natural life.
In an effort to help the boots hang on just that bit longer (and because I am both lazy and curious) I stopped in Albert Street today and let Blair the shoe shining man buff, polish and condition my boots.
They now look a million dollars.
While he polished and I took photos Blair also told me his story. He was in the building trade. "I used to swing a hammer" but "I'm 60 next birthday" and so the work was drying up.
Blair said without a strong education his alternatives were limited so he decided to give Buffed a go.
Buffed is a network of shoe shine stands across Australia which according to its website is designed to create "real business opportunities for people whose employment outlook is limited - such as recently arrived migrants, people with unstable health, or those who lack the basic skills required for mainstream employment".
Blair says he liked the idea of shoe shining because "I like to see the reward at the end of the job".
The rewards for both of us were obvious. I left looking very buffed.