Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Shoes and pain

I love summer. I love wearing skirts and feeling the sun on my legs (always a novelty experience for a British person) and I love the way the heat makes you slow down as you walk, sinking back into the sweltering air, slowing your breath and relaxing into the cushioning warmth.

I hate wearing socks and tights and anything clingy or elasticated.

This means that in the morning I slip my bare feet into pretty high-heeled sandals and in the evening I have to coax my bruised toes out of them again, the skin all cut to ribbons by straps and rubbing leather.

It hurts.

I first discovered summer sandal pain at the age of about seven or eight.
I have very oddly-shaped feet: narrow at the heels and ankles, high arches, broad at the toes. I always thought this was extraordinarily shameful and ugly until I first bought blocked ballet shoes and discovered that my feet best suited Freed shoes, which had the nicest (to my taste) satin colour (more salmony and not too pink).
Trips to the shoe shop were a nightmare: I would slip my foot reluctantly into the slide measure and wait for them to pull the tape around my toes, hoping and praying that my toes had suddenly got miraculously slimmer... but no - I always took the second-biggest width.
The sales assistant would then pick out the ugliest, roundest, most sensible shoes she could find for me to try on. I remember looking down and seeing a pair of round, navy, clomping school shoes that made my feet look like they wouldn't be out of place on a baby elephant.
Remember that this was in the late eighties, when pointy shoes were all the rage.

At a certain point, I rebelled and refused to wear anything but sandals. It was a good compromise: they were usually open enough not to squash my hated toes, and pretty enough to satisfy my vanity.

One day, in the summer holidays, we went on a day trip. Probably to Bodiam Castle but I don't really remember. Bodiam Castle was by far our favourite place to go: it's a ruined twelfth-century castle with spiral staircases and crumbling walls that are perfect for climbing onto and jumping off. For obvious reasons, clambering about on the castle walls is strictly prohibited, but we saw this as a mere formality. Besides which, there were three of us, and only one Mum. She never stood a chance.

I remember buckling on a shiny brand-new pair of pink leather sandals with great pride, before setting about scrambling around the castle. It was a hot day, and socks were for sissies.

By the afternoon, all the knuckles of my toes were skinned raw. I distinctly remember crawling out of the end of a large concrete pipe (don't ask), peeling back the sandal strap and seeing red, broken, weeping blisters.

Nothing has changed. I refuse to wear tights in the summer, I can't bear those awful shoe-protector insert things: they crumple and stick out and look disgusting, and socks are simply not an option.

So for now, I'm persisting, walking to work in trainers, wearing Birkenstocks wherever possible in the evenings, and buying all the shares I can in Compeed...


Laura said...

I also compromise on the walk to work. I feel like a bit of a dick in a skirt and trainers and have to rush into my office and pray that I don't bump into anybody in the reception or lift.

On the plus side, I have some exciting new sandals to wear at work tomorrow. AND for the first time ever I'm the short-arse of my department so I really have to wear heels.

pinolona said...

Yeah it's all a bit City, isn't it?! One of my colleagues said that once she forgot to bring work shoes and just kept the trainers on all day and no-one noticed... it's not like they see our feet anyway!

Sandals sound good - did you get them here or in the UK?
I guess the height disadvantage must be one interesting side effect of having so many Nordic colleagues...

Laura said...

The sandals were from Dune in the UK.

Actually, today I was complimented on my trainers and skirt combo by a Norwegian. I was a little confused - she seemed to be serious...

Honestly, one guy is about 6'5"!!! I keep getting stuck behind him and squished in lift doors etc. Strangely, the French woman is about three inches taller than me too...