I am the 20th International Mr. Bootblack. I'm the first British citizen to hold it, and I'm the last one who was judged by ballots alone. I am extremely pleased that this contest is changing to a judged format and I look forward to seeing how it evolves and improves over time.
I could not have been happier with my title year. I've traveled the US and beyond, judged contests and blacked boots in the strangest places. I've learned to fist, been suspended by hooks, and forged some incredible connections. I hope I've been able to convey my passion for bootblacking to you. Or my love of biting. Either one.
To Sandra my lovely wife: You are truly awesome; here's to another 15 years. To Ty & Dylan: Your friendship and taxi services will always be appreciated. To Master Chrysty: Thank you for poking me down the bootblacking path and guiding my fledgling years. To Woody: You've been a great title husband/brother, and I hope our friendship continues beyond this. To Calum: I love you too. Hail Eris.
I had so much other support over the year I wanted to make sure the following people got acknowledged. They have welcomed me into their homes, given me rides to/from airports, they've fed me, listened or laughed with me, but all have helped in some way and I want to honor them here:
Bob SirPapaBear, PDX Bootblacks, Blackout Productions, The Oregon Bears, Portland Leathermen, GLPW, Deb, Dara, Leland Carina, Thom Butts, Tarsus, Dominic Chevalier, Brent Seeley, Big Bad Jim, Paul Tucker, Blake Walter, Wendell Joost, Dan Hipp, Gabriel Majors, Daniel Dumont, Bryon Hayes, Calvin Pohler, Steve Homer, Sarah Sloane, Jon Krongaard, Joey McDonald, NLA-Dallas, The Misfits, Miguel Rubio, Brian Conway, Rich Dockter, Master Jim, Marlin & Collin, Les & Rick, Paul & Cole, Hoss & Heather, Joshua & Kelev Sprinkle, Elwood Reid, Dan Fabrici, Steven Palaschak, PLA, Jeff Henness, Glenda Rider, McG & Digger, Jack Pierce & Jake, Dan Scheiber.
I've also been privileged to help spread the good word about Mr. Friendly on my travels too. Feel free to ask me, stop by the booth in the vendor market, or go to www.mrfriendly.inforeducing the stigma of HIV one conversation at a time.
My advice to everyone is to read a book called The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
I wish you success in all your conquests, or as the Klingons say:
International Mr. Bootblack 2012
Photo by RVJ Studios