Tuesday, September 01, 2009
When I was a youngster my father told me of hard times during the early 1930s. I was born then in the middle of The Great Depression, when thousands of people were jobless, and there was much destitution. The Workhouse era was drawing to a close, but many impoverished people, sick and elderly were forced to accept unpleasant living conditions within surviving institutions. My father spoke of children going to school barefooted and without adequate clothing to keep them warm. By contrast, I am reminded of Imelda Marcos, wife of the President of the Philippines, when she owned 1060 pairs of shoes - that was in 1986, at the time she and her husband fled to Hawaii. Now Imelda was besotted with foot attire, but even the average UK female has 19 pairs of shoes, and in the USA the figure is 27.
I’m not sure how many shoes my wife owns, but on Bank Holiday Monday I took her to buy a pair of shoes she had been thinking about for a while. They were still for sale, at a price rather more than she wanted to pay, but they were of high quality and they looked stylish. When she was young she used to wear shoes with high heels, even when dancing! Having suffered over the years, because of wearing such shoes, she now looks for comfort, rather than style. I must say that I approved her choice, and I think she was pleased that I did. By comparison, my ownership of shoes is minimal, almost scant, but I’m not into footwear. If I didn’t have to wear shoes for protecting my feet I would never do so. I love having my feet free of restrictions, so that I can twiddle my toes, feel surfaces through the soles of my feet and experience the joy of free walking. Walking on soft damp sand with sea spray falling on my feet, wind-blown hair, and the warmth of the sun on my body, they combine to bring the ultimate pleasure.