I was grateful to the woman who stopped me as I was getting off the train. My glove was indeed lying in the floor of the train carriage where I’d dropped it. Who knows how many near misses I’ve had with these gloves over the years.
I bought these gloves at a market in Moscow near the metro station that I think was named <Sportivniy> due to its proximity to a large sports hall. It was a bright sunshine day, blue skies, temperatures around -10C. The market was busy, and I was terrified about testing out my basic Russian language skills against a fast talking market trader.
It was early on in my Moscow stay, possibly even my first proper weekend. I had arrived in Moscow with a pair of borrowed mittens that were very warm but not useful for making your way around the city – opening zips on bags, operating a camera, sorting through coins and notes to pay for things – none of these things I could do with mittens covering my hands.
These gloves became part of my outdoor arsenal for my three months in Russia. With my wool hat and scarf, my down filled coat zipped up from knee to chin, my boots with thick wool socks and my gloves, and I was capable of facing up to -15C, maybe even -20C. I may not have been the most stylishly dressed woman about town (this is Russia after all, where women wear fur coats and high heels on the iced footpaths in winter) but I was warm.
I chose these gloves because black was a practical colour that goes with anything, especially in winter. The leather outer seemed practical for being snowproof and the fleecy inner seemed warm. I was right on all fronts. Eighteen years on and these gloves are still going strong.
I nearly lost a glove once before, some years later, getting off the bus going home after work back in London. In fact, I did lose a glove for a time. I was part of the way home from the bus stop, reaching into the pocket of my gloves and realising I had only one.
The next morning I retraced my steps and was overjoyed to find my glove lying on the footpath where it had fallen when I got out of the bus the night before. It was wet and dirty after lying out in the cold all night but I took it home, carefully dried it out and rubbed leather restorer into it. Into both gloves, actually. I’d had them several years by this stage and I realised I had been lax in their upkeep.
These gloves climbed Ben Nevis with me, the fleecy lining again serving to keep my hands from freezing on the wind- and snow-whipped summit, although they ended up soaked with water. They set stiff when they dried, the leather cracking in places. I almost cracked at the thought of losing them.
This time it took some shoe polish as well as generous and repeated application of leather restorer to soften them up again.
They may have shrunk a little after the Ben Nevis soaking, and despite my best efforts, some of the leather did crack off. But the gloves are still warm, still holding together.
And here we are. Another winter. Eighteen years together. There have probably been many more moments where someone pointed out I’d dropped a glove.
I love these gloves. Even if they’re not as soft or as fleecy as they once were. Even if on cold winter mornings they work best if I can warm them up before I put them on.
When you see someone drop a glove, tell them. You don’t what they and their gloves have been through together.