Written by Harriet Dyer


Me and my Gnarly Kicks

When it comes to trainers Harriet Dyer needs no training. She wanted to share her lifetime love affair with sporty footwear, and we were happy to let her.

Finding Nike Air Max trainers on sale

Illustrations by Harriet Carmichael.

I’ve always been a tomboy. As a kid my dad would always try and dress me in generic flowery shit and whenever someone’s birthday party approached, out would come the Laura Ashley pinafore dress I’d be forced to wear. Gosh it was horrific.

The first time I remember being totally happy with an outfit was on a non-uniform day at primary school. I was wearing Doc Martens, green chinos, a shirt with A RUFF and waistcoat, Ozzy Osbourne round sunglasses and a green beanie hat resting on top of my head.

Cool Harriet on non-uniform dayI remember being so content that I sat on a wall by myself thinking I was too cool for everyone. All the kids must’ve been like, “Who on earth is that era-mismatched idiot with sunglasses on in the rain?”

I’m not proud of this, but I used to judge people on their footwear (I know, this coming from the shirt with a ruff girl – rich isn’t it?) At school if you gave me a name I’d always be able to tell you what shoes they wore. Carly Rilstone: brown Kickers.

The first pair of shoes I believe I deeply loved were my Nike Air Unlimited, and holy moly they were delicious.

They were high tops with a turquoise wetsuit inner sock and I remember feeling so cool once my foot shimmied inside. Even though my parents didn’t have much money, they made sure we never went short, which usually meant they got themselves in debt by getting such things from catalogues. Of course I didn’t know this at the time.

I’d always get frightful travel sickness and when I used to visit nanny Betty on the bus (the bus took us to her house; she didn’t live on a bus, not that there’d be anything wrong with that) she’d always bring an empty Gino Ginelli container with her for the inevitable vomit explosion that’d occur.

One time my mum, my brother and I were in Doncaster visiting Mum’s side of the family. We got the bus to Sheffield, had lunch and a saunter around, then returned the way we came.

“The trainers I liked were always in the men’s section, but wouldn’t fit my little child feet, so like an absolute oddball I’d fib about my shoe size in order to get them.”

This idiot (me) had scoffed a jacket potato with cottage cheese for lunch. When combined with the winding roads, this did not sit well with my delicate stomach, which went on to project its contents all over my wondrous Nike Air Unlimiteds. They did have a limit after all.

After that I’d tend to be bought trainers that were on offer. The trainers I liked were always in the men’s section, but wouldn’t fit my little child feet, so like an absolute oddball I’d fib about my shoe size in order to get them. I’d then stuff them with socks in order to be able to wear them without risk of them flinging off at any moment.

Chunky FilasAt one point I was wearing a size nine trainer when, even now that I’m a fully grown woman, I’m only a size six. On the plus side, this footwear quirk came in useful when a car ran over my foot on the way to school. I was completely fine. The car had only trampled the extra shoe circumference I was sporting.

Later came the real chunky buggers like the Fila Hill which looked like what the Marshmallow Man would wear on his feet. Go on Google it, you fiend.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted a pair of Nike Air Max, but they’re so expensive and no matter how much I love my trainers I just can’t justify spending over £100 on a pair (having previously worked in the corporate jumble sale of TK Maxx I love a bargain too much).

In addition, I have a lasting memory from primary school of when a friend of mine got a pair, stood on a drawing pin and burst the air bubble. I think I was more devastated than she was.

Near to where I live there’s a Nike Outlet Store. My current trainers had been worn down to the rafters (I think I walk oddly because my undercarriage always wears down swiftly), so I decided to see what they had on offer.

The moment I started having a gander, a pair caught my eye. A friend of mine said, “It’s like they’ve been made for you, by you” (which probably translates to, “No one else would wear that colourway.”)

And wouldn’t you know, because they had just one pair in my size which were randomly cheaper, and because they were in an outlet with a discount price, and because they then had an extra 30% off… it was indeed meant to be.

Harriet with her favourite trainersNow at gigs if I’ve been a curiously long time in the toilet, it’s because there’s a full length mirror and I’m checking out my shoes.

So, it’s happened. I’ve finally got the trainers I wanted as a kid, which probably means I should grow up. Make no mistake though. If you come at me with a drawing pin I will prick you.


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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.