The following is a walking story I only discovered after my book
had gone to press: if not, I'd surely have found some way of shoe-horning it. In fact, it's a story that seems just a little bit too perfect, but I very much want it to be true.
It concerns Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), author of The Good Soldier and Parade's End. His original surname wasn't Ford but Hueffer. He changed it after World War One, because he thought (rightly enough) it sounded too German: his middle name was Hermann, and there had been a period of his life when he styled himself Baron Hueffer von Aschendorf. But why did he pick the surname Ford?
Legend has it that when, as Hueffer, he lived in post-war Paris, he was a great walker and wore out many pairs of shoes. He got them cheaply repaired by one Anton Defandine, a Parisian bibliophile, man of letters, and (apparently) amateur shoe repairer.
The arrangement suited them both, but after a while, Hueffer's visits to Defandine stopped. His fortunes had improved, he no longer did so much walking, and he no longer needed to get his shoes repaired. He had bought a car.
When Defandine at last saw him behind the wheel, he said, "Ah, so you are no longer a hoofer!" The car was a Model T Ford.