If You Go On Dragons’ Den … Take Shoes With You
It was 1am in Salford, 5 hours till we were expected at the BBC Studio to start filming and I was scrambling round an empty car boot in the Holiday Inn car park. I tore round the car like a dog for a few minutes before I conceded. I just hadn’t brought my shoes.
I got out and stood there in luminous trainers, tracksuit bottoms, my hoodie and a vest. I just wanted to cry.
We’d driven up that day and were at the BBC Salford studio till 1am building shelves that, at 12.45am, promptly collapsed. I blame Ikea. They’d probably blame me. We ended up rooting round the studios and stealing (borrowing) a shelving unit from the set of another show.
I’ve never been so tired or so wired as when we pulled back into the hotel carpark that night. I had agreed to meet Joe for our final rehearsal four hours later, before heading to set at 6am.
I took my suit out of the car and began the frantic, fruitless search for shoes.
I’ve never been a snazzy dresser. I hate wearing suits and count jeans as smart but it had been with no small sense of pride that I had got up early that morning and, for the first time in my life with a freshly bought tin of polish, shined my shoes and placed them by the door, where they would unfortunately remain.
I went up to my room and stared at myself in the mirror. Could I go on in my hoodie with the word ‘Criminal’ written on it (which my mum had got me for Christmas)? Probably not. I put on my suit and slipped on my trainers to see if it’d look ‘that bad’. If you haven’t tried it, you really should. Not good. Not good at all.
I went downstairs, and found the bar which had two men finishing a drink in the corner. I was on the edge. I tried to buy their shoes. When they said know I took off my shoes and pulled cash from my wallet, offering them a cash+shoes part exchange. They were there for a wedding the next day, not in the mood to sell their shoes.
It was at this point that my guardian angel swooped. The kind woman working the check in desk overheard my pleas and took pity.
‘Come here young man. There’s a 24 hour Tesco about a 20 minute walk away.’ I didn’t understand the relevance of this comment and was somewhat frustrated by the incursion on my time (now 1.25am, alarm in three hours, set in 4.5 hours) until she explained that the place was the size of a football pitch and that they sell, literally, everything.
I hope that no one will take offence if I say that I did not like that Tesco even though I will forever be grateful for it. It was not full of happy people. Some were drunk, some were clearly suffering the after-effects of drugs stronger than alcohol and the rest were night-shift workers, security guards and Tesco staff who would probably rather have been at home.
For £9.99 (on sale) I bought some brown loafers that four hours later carried my shaky legs into the Den as sturdy as a pair of shoes can. I haven’t worn them since and will not wear again until we sell the business. They’re my Frame Again shoes.
Jake Hayman is on Twitter @jakehayman