Shoe-La-La …

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen

Today, whilst doing my usual, ‘let’s waste a bit of time when I really should be doing something important’, browsing of Pinterest; I happened across the above image, and it made me a little sad. Thirty years ago, my first thoughts would have been, ‘LOVE/WANT/NEED!’ Today? My first thought was …  ‘Bloody hell, how do you walk in those?’

I have to admit, that despite being 55 and having severe arthritis (etc), I actually DON’T feel ‘old’ … my mindset seems to have settled into the space that was my twenties, I love music and fashion, find myself attracted to younger blokes (should I confess that? lol) and still think I have forever to achieve all my dreams. BUT, there is definitely something that has changed about my attitude towards footwear, and this got me thinking about the significance of shoes.

I thought about the joy that accompanies babies first pair, our squeals of delight to see those chubby little feet clad in bright colours of soft yarn or fabric … and the gentle tears when we happen across them years later, wrapped in tissue and squirrelled away as a memory keeper. We miss our baby … even if the 6ft 4” version is sitting on the sofa right next to us.

I thought about that first pair of school shoes, all black patent shininess and laces that we’d spent all summer learning how to tie (no Velcro fastenings in my era!) and how quickly they became scuffed in the playground. I thought about watching my dad every Sunday afternoon as he polished away all the scratches of the families shoes and remembered the smell of Cherry Blossom shoe polish.

I thought about that first pair of high-heels, four inches high, nut brown and red patchwork (it WAS the 70’s!) Bought from the Co-op Store with my dad, who was sent with me to get school shoes (have a funny feeling my sense of ‘not growing up’ may be inherited) … I was 14 and mum was furious, telling me I had to wear them ’til they wore out, even if they ‘made my feet bleed!’ And I did, I have clear memories of running in them, walking miles and even riding my bike, don’t think mum ever mentioned them again …

Then there were the wedged pair, again a good 4 inches thick, made of solid wood and held on by gladiator type leather straps and buckles. Completely inflexible, and I must have sounded like a pony, clip, clopping away on the pavement. I ran in those too and played hopscotch with my little sister.

There have been pretty court shoes with white leather mesh tops and kitten heels, cotton espadrilles with laces that criss-crossed up to my knees (and were a constant annoyance because if you didn’t tie them tight enough, they would fall into a tangled mess around your ankles … and if you tied them too tightly, you risked losing your leg!). There were my wedding shoes, pale pink, 5 inches high (I married a giant … lol) and strappy … at nineteen, I never even considered that we were getting married in the snow in late November…

I have had Doc Martin boots from Camden Market, purple suede, thigh high boots (in the days when my thighs would fit), court shoes with wedged heels, stacked heels, no heels, ballet pumps and flip-flops. I have spent evenings painting my stilettos with nail polish to cover the nicks left by getting them wedged down cracks in the pavement and added glitter so they’d sparkle on the dance floor. I have hammered in metal ‘Blakeys’ to save the sole and tippy tapped everywhere I went.

Each and every pair evokes a memory.

When my partner passed away, eight years ago, I had the inevitable task of cleaning out his wardrobe … the smell of him was on his shirts and pullovers and each one had to be held close for a few seconds before being folded and placed into the charity bag, and although heartbreakingly  hard, it was just about do-able. But his shoes … his shoes just seemed so much harder to part with and I really don’t know why, his shirt sleeves held the arms that had held me, but the shoes had held up the man that I had loved. It was a long time before I had the heart to part with them and to be truthful, if my eldest son hadn’t said that he would like to have them, they may still be sitting in my wardrobe today.

These days, I love the aesthetics of beautifully designed shoes and haven’t quite gone ‘orthopaedic’ but the heels are just 2 inches now and comfort is pretty vital … mind you, my favourite pair are still bright red, so maybe there is some dancing left in these old feet yet … I do hope so.  😀 x



What were your favourite pair of shoes? Do share, would love to know (I’m nosey like that!) ❤


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