ONE OF my friends had moved to Hong Kong and had met some guys who had developed a security system for back packs. They now run a very successful travel security company.
They asked me to go to a Munich trade show in 2000, to try and promote the Oldski Bag. I went there and met up with the guys. They were both from Australia and they also knew another Aussie who had an outback clothing company. He had a real big chip on his shoulder with the English.
This was my first ever taste of racism or bigotry towards myself, just for being English. He really meant it as he made comments all bloody day. Anyway, we all went for Pizza that night, I said: "What? I come all this way to Germany and have cheese on toast?" It was just a jibe back at the racist Aussie.
At the Pizza restaurant, he kept going on about Gallipoli and this and that. Well, by then I had had enough. I said: "Carry on lads, I have an idea coming in." So I asked the waiter for some paper and a pencil. I sketched two copies of the leisure shoe Crocs. I named them Crocs as it was an animal which had survived on this planet since the dinosaurs, so it had done a lot of walking.
It was an idea I'd had years before, as the foam cushion below the rubber sole of training shoes seemed to last as long as the rubber sole itself.
I said to the bigoted Aussie: "You’re already set up in this sort of business, so here is an idea you can go and develop. Gallipoli was not my fuckin’ fault; go and dig up Churchill and have a go at him. When you make the profits from this idea, go and take care of the war graves. That is my contribution."
They all looked stunned. Then I said: "The cheese on toast wasn’t that bad after all." I got up and walked out. The only reason that I never had a copy of a Crocs sketch was because the restaurants fax machine was broken. I had already drawn two and was keen to get away from the place.
The idea did seem to do well, by whom, I don't know. I have never bothered to find out as I have no proof. All I know is that this story is true, and I have no reason to make it up. It would be great if a news paper would do some investigative work and find out the story behind Crocs.
I bet you're wondering why I think this might interest you? When you look at the whole of my work, I have had my book ideas used on the big screen, a billionaire developing an idea I had when I was 14, and a simple leisure shoe idea used which has sold millions world wide. Here I still am, working on a building site as a carpenter, trying for that break after over 35 years.
You know, sometimes I look at what I have tried to do over the years and should really write a book called Tenacity, or maybe Gundog (my nick name).