This thread reminds me of my cadet force days - of course, we cheated and used the heated back of a teaspoon to melt the grainy leather and create a perfect mirror finish!
I just tried sysdoc's
instructions on a pair of black Loake Wells and got a surprisingly easy near-mirror result. I think I got cocky and put a little on a smidgen too much polish near the end and so lost a bit of the finish (no actual scratches in the finish, just lost a fraction of the mirror gloss). But the instructions definitely work - I just need to learn when to stop.
I look forward to experimenting more on the C&J Cliffords I'm expecting soon...