Musing on Shoes

Shoes it seems are news at the moment with both Madonna and her brother announcing collections last week (Guardian G2 23 July 2012) – Madge’s Truth or Dare range for Selfridges is a collaboration with costume designer Arianne Phillips who has been responsible for styling Madonna for the last 15 years. Curious choice of name when today news report’s calls for supporters to donate $5 to Raising Malawi (Madonna’s charity) for work training paediatricians; this follows the same charity abandoning a project to provide a girls academy 2 years ago.

President Joyce Banda expressed reservations about Madonna’s ventures during an interview in April, “Madonna came to Malawi and Madonna came to build a school, an academy like the one Oprah [Winfrey] built in [South Africa], but she changed her mind so I have a lot of problems with a lot of things around the adoption of the children and the changing of the mind and then coming back to build community schools” (Guardian 21 July 2012). Nicely put Joyce; restrained polite and abundantly clear! My respect for the Malawian President grows daily as she balances pragmatism with an insightful political strategy seemingly free of self interest; this Banda is a refreshing breath of hope in the country once called the warm heart of Africa.

Anyway back to shoes.  Karen Kay writing in the Observer this weekend discussed the perennial appeal of the high-heeled shoes ‘those towers of female footwear that combine a plethora of complex contradictions: empowerment, vulnerability, sexual allure, femininity, subversion, fetishism’. Apparently we women in the UK sport the highest heels of all our European counterparts – on average height 8.25cm (reaching for a 12” ruler I shall convert this into old money i.e. 3 ¼ inches)! The article is actually a rather informative history of the heeled shoe; I recommend you cast your eye over it on line if you are remotely inclined towards a footwear fetish.

I confess the matter of white stilettos in the same sentence as Diana, Princess of Wales and dancing around handbags to Bananarama did induce the reflex reaction of a ‘sharp intake of breath’ coupled with a mild fit of the vapours. More because since I’ve cut my hair shorter – a matter noted this weekend by an acquaintance who hadn’t seen me since I’d had the chop ‘oh the short hair I read about it’ – one is struggling with the moisture saturated air. The unfortunate consequence being the periodic return of the Diana flicks (remember the cut in the 80s); not a good look!

In preparation for the Salon this week I will be throwing myself at the hopefully merciful feet of the gorgeous woman who will be joining me for the evening – darling please please do wonders with the ceramic straighteners! The final element of the Salon will be filmed and I simply cannot be immortalised with a Lady D coiffure! One certainly WOULD NOT wish to be remembered thus! It doesn’t take much to unbalance one these days so predictable obstacles simply must be removed as a precaution! On the subject of precautions may I take the opportunity to pass on a small tip when stacking ones dishwasher; we are all familiar with the advice to place sharp knives blade down in the cutlery basket. Well I need to extend this to forks as I managed to impale myself on the prongs of this implement last week; even though the spikes are well frankly not that sharp they certain can inflict a nasty nip when engaged with at speed!

When a young teenager – the age when one had just graduated from the Startrite foot measuring machine – a diagnosis of fallen arches (otherwise known as flat feet I believe). Shameful that the Spinster should be identified as fallen (albeit in a small part) at such a vulnerable age! The ‘treatment’ prescribed was nice lace up shoes complete with metal reinforced arches; the result being one still has an absence of arches. Of course artificially bracing the muscle simply gave it an excuse not to develop; why would you when something else was carrying the load (quite literally).

Imagine my delight when becoming a bridesmaid I got to wear proper shoes – either small heeled white sandals (to accompany the white dress with bunches of blue flowers made by my dear mother – she also made me a duffel coat and a satchel! Kirsty Allsop doesn’t get anywhere near my ma and her Husquavana Sewing Machine!). Or I may have been wearing caramel Mary Janes under the frock – my memory is hazy around matrimonial matter unaccustomed as one is to the institution! Around the same time I remember my first pair of red shoes complete with a pointy leather tongue that crept up the heel; there is always something special about a girl’s red shoes!

But all of these pale into insignificance when it comes to my silver ballroom dancing shoes – I have previously mentioned my short foray into the magical world of the waltz and quickstep! Although I accrued the triple bronze, silver and gold awards in both dances, plus individual badges in a range of others including disco, this acquired skill didn’t yield the husband it may have been designed to bag.  The elusive arches funnily enough never held me back on the wooden dance floor.

In summary shoes have played an influential part in my life – I have skipped over the shape shifting transitional Dr Marten phase complete with dungarees (compulsory garb for the feminist collective in the late 80s early 90s).  Dr Marten appeared in the news a few months ago as an iconic British brand experiencing a resurgence on the back of various stars being spotted with their feet encased in the 16 holers! Gee I remember the trials of lacing up ones boots in just the right way only to stand up and realise you could no longer feel your feet (all that before the self same sensation came along all on its own)!


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Filed under Musings of a Contemporary Spinster, Sophisticated Salons

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