These boot scrapers, seen last week in Eton, reminded me of how a sense of place and a sense of self-identity in that place, is curiously entwined with the mundane set of props specific to that place. For me, these 19th Century objects were a reminder that I was “home”, but also a reminder that I had become a stranger.
Actually noticing the scrapers, and singling them out as something special meant that I was now on the outside looking back in. Belonging to a place is forgetting what makes it different from another place.
But why aren’t boot scrapers to be found in modern architecture? Whilst paving stones and tarmacadam rid towns of muddy thoroughfares, horses remained in use for some time. Besides mud, one can assume that a significant amount of horse manure was removed from shoes and boots too. Seen in the context of the contemporary city street, bestrewn with dog turd, and the question of their disappearance remains.