…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - One Foot In Front Of The Other

Over the weekend I did something I rarely do; checked for news on the interweb.  I was never much of a newspaper girl.  We always listened to Radio 4 growing up and I never really broke that habit.  Or the telly news of course.  Still favour the radio however, for all this visual stuff has taken on a life of it's own…  but I am digressing into a whole other area of debate.

Neither do I want to wander into my thoughts on what I think of what was presented as 'news' on the two or three sites I visited.  Note, though, that the decision was made as part of the "moving back into the world" process.

If aliens were to assess based on this stuff, well…………...tsk.

However, one thing that struck me was a picture  - well several actually - of young women in various forms of undress, their feet stuck into footwear that appeared wholly unstable, with their ankles, knees, whole bodies looking completely strained (to this physician's eye).   They looked like cartoon characters.

The memory shot up of shoe-shopping with mother.  Even into my early teens there were always rational, healthy, unarguable logics given as to why one must wear lace up or bar-strap shoes with minimum heel and wide toe.  It had to do with posture, long-term foot health and the prevention of looking like we had rickets.  Like all children everywhere who have friends with less clear-thinking mothers, we three girls all got very cantankerous about such restriction.  I am sure mum hated this yearly task - oh yes I should mention it was pretty much always tied in with birthdays.

Except for school shoes of course.   That was another job altogether.  Even though, ultimately, they looked pretty much the same as our 'dress' shoes.  You'll gather by this of course that the one pair of footwear had to be plain enough to suit every outfit.

There came an occasion, though, at age 14, when I was staying with close family friends a looooong way from home for the Easter Holidays - my birthday just happened to fall at the right time. "Aunty" wanted to help out with the shoe shopping to save mum the trouble when I got back.  A district nurse of the very old school, this lady was also amazingly alert to the needs and desires of a teenage girl and for the first time in my life I was allowed to try on some of the pretty and un-sensible shoes which flaunted themselves in the shop window...now see these in red & white and a tad less heel/sole...

I was guided well, yet still allowed to experiment.  Aside from the very basic 'flat and yokel', I had never had sandals either.  A pair of red and white low-platform and 'high heels' caught my attention.  At barely a quarter inch at front and 1 inch in the back, with minimal leather over the top of the foot (i.e. 'support'!),  these seemed so daring as to be the epitome of rebellion.  Yet somehow, "Aunty" approved of them - having made me walk several times round the shop and even persuading the assistant to let me walk the pavement a bit to ensure no wobble, ankle-wrenching or A over T were likely to ensue.

I felt like I was on stilts.

But it turned out my gymnastic and dancing days had given me a good balance and natural posture for walking on my toes.  Not that I was at all doing so.  When you've only ever been stuck at ground level though, it seemed like it.

"Aunty" handled mum's phone call that night expertly.  When mum eventually saw them, she admitted that they looked fine. 

I wore those sandals for two years (I am light on my shoes - learned from the 'make them last the year' instruction per the above).  Then came the 16th birthday.  I was permitted to go purchase shoes on my own!

Mum's face was a picture when I returned with the enormous floral items I chose.  1970's remember.  Two inches platform at toe and 4 inches heel.  This amounted to only another half inch lift for this vertically challenged girl, but of course the level of balance required had upped by metres!  The mini criss-cross straps cut into me and the ankles had to work very hard indeed, but no way was I giving up those beautiful items.
 ...imagine these in a Liberty Print pattern all over...

They came with me to Nigeria and were worn for the entire 2.5 years I spent there.  They played a special part, as it turned out, unexpected and something that won them a wee bit of favour from the disapproving mother…  they lifted one out of the mire that was the local market and streets in general!

By the time one had returned to Britain, stilettos had entered.  Platforms out…

By the time I was 25 though, I was beginning to appreciate when one could get home and kick off the heels and drop to the ground again.  By the time I was 30 and migrating to OZ, heels were out.  Commonsense and early training prevailed.  What's more the flattie shoe had made a surge into fashion, so I was okay.  I merged with the crowd in my bid for sensible and safe walking.

I have never returned to anything more than a 'brief' heel for business dress wear.   Now, seeing both platform and stiletto combined into massive, improbable shapes with disproportionate elevation between toe and heel, I despair.  I imagine them walking with their arms swinging about everywhere for balance - or grabbing desperately onto the Beau of the Mo'.  Surely such things were designed by artists with a cruel sense of the ridiculous and were never meant for anything other than museum display?  The same folk who would condemn the dreadful practice of foot-binding in China.

Mother I salute you.  As ever, you knew best.


  1. My mother wanted me in sensible footwear, too, but I knew what was in her closet! She seldom wore high-heeled shoes, but she owned some beauties, and every now and then she would wear them, even though they made her taller than Dad.
    If my shoe-shopping had been up to my grandmother, however, life would have been a whole lot flatter.

  2. Hari OM
    Ah weel, Kay'hen', it's likely a Scots thing; the need to actually feel God's Good Earth beneath one's feet and not risk the meeting of it with other parts of the anatomy!!! xx


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