Sitting-down shoes

18Apr11

Yes, thank you, I know you’re meant to spread these out a bit, not write two on one day, but there it is. From inconsistency and chaos come evolution. And now I’ve admitted I’m God, I think we can move on to the chief topic on the niggle list which is, as eagle-eyed readers will have noted: sitting-down shoes.

Wtf? They first came to my attention last Friday night in the pub, when I was one of a trio talking to a very tall, soignee young woman who worked at Top-Drawer Glossy Magazine company. She was explaining her reasons for turning up to a country weekend with a small shoulder bag and a wheeled monster the size of a bookcase. Small bag, clothes; grande valise, shoes.

Shoes? we said, (presumably echoing her bewildered boyfriend). Yes, she said firmly. We were struggling from the off: why would anyone need a pair of black walking boots if they had already stowed a pair of brown walking boots? (‘The brown ones let in water’).

Then we got to the sitting-down shoes. These are creations, it seems, that are so beautiful but so ill-fitting that you only wear them when sitting. How you get to and from the sitting-down place remained unclear (crawl?), and I shrugged off the whole concept as belonging to the summits of high fashion, where the air is too thin for me to breathe.

But bugger me if an hour later one of my best mates didn’t spring it on me again! We were having dinner and she said she’d bought some new shoes, but ‘You wouldn’t like them’. This really irks me. Just because I choose footwear of surpassing ugliness, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate, indeed worship, beauty. I wear shoes of surpassing ugliness because they happen to be of supreme comfort, and this is because I walk about seven miles a day and I can’t be arsed to carry extra shoes and hosiery. There.

Truth be told, I’m scared of shoes – and they know it. I hear them whispering when I go into shoe shops. I suspect I’m used by big shoes to scare little shoes when they’re naughty: ‘If you’re not a good little ballet pump we’ll send you off to Gatepost Calves and she’ll clomp you into the ground.’ I bet you a million pounds that’s what happens. Two million. Anyway, so having established that one of my oldest friends thinks I wear bunion-style, village-idiot shoes because I think they’re real purdy, I was introduced to creations that made me gasp. Fabulous bright orange, strappy, flower on one ankle gorgeousness. My hands were outstretched, my eyes like saucers, drinking in the glory. And slowly, as if from a great distance, her voice cut through the orchestral swell in my head. ‘They hurt like hell. But they’re sitting-down shoes.’

It’s made me rethink (again) the geography of being a woman. The last time I did that in such a root-and-branch way was when colleague Josie told me her simple solution to the nice-outfit-terrible-underwear problem that arises (fingers crossed) some time around the third date. Viz: slinky trousers require thong, thong is worst garment in the world if the slinky trousers work their magic. Ta-da! Nicer knicks in the handbag! Nip to bathroom. Change. VPL academic from here on in. Josie swore by it, and sure enough, she married a hottie. Mind you, that was a few years ago; she probably wears pants the size of Belgium these days.

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