Day 64 of the Shoe Challenge – Mary Jane in Chains

Red or Dead Mary Janes with Chain Strap Detail

Do not under any circumstances smile at them before Lecture 3“.

I was twenty four years old. The person advising me had been teaching children and university students for almost my lifetime.

In one year of  practising law as a newly qualified solicitor the only way that I could switch off and fall asleep was to drink myself into oblivion.  By 9.00 pm every night I had consumed about a litre of red wine and was comatose. By 3.00 am I was wide awake with a furry tongue, an upset stomach and a racing heart.

What caused this?

Possibly stress – I was working twelve hour days five days a week plus at least four hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays. No matter how hard I worked I couldn’t make a dent in my in-tray. The work that I was doing was as relentless as it was monotonous – uninsured losses claims from motor vehicle accidents, personal injuries claims, chucking tenants out of their homes for arrears of rents, a bit of nasty divorce work thrown in for good measure. All in all it was lots of fun legal work for a newly qualified solicitor.

Every morning I would unlock the office at about 7.30 am, put on a pot of filtered coffee and go into the toilets to cry for about half an hour. Getting that out of my system gave me the strength to go on with the day.

One Friday not long before Easter I was summoned to the boardroom to be told by the firm’s management committee that I was being made redundant. The firm needed, apparently, someone that was 4 to 5 years qualified to do the job that I was doing. I hugged the managing partner with gratitude. “You are taking this very well” he said, surprised.

Six months later I was standing in front of a sloping lecture theatre full of 200 plus BA accounting and business students.  It was like bein eyeballed by a roomful of particularly cantankerous cats.  There were growls from the back row. The front row was looking at me like I was small, grey and had just scuttled out of a hole.

Contracts” I said “are a bit like using public toilets, always unpleasant but often necessary“.

So began my 5 year teaching career. In that time I taught students of all ages and backgrounds and levels of interest.  Most of the time the students that I was teaching did not have the slightest interest in what I was talking about.

I used to tell people that I could walk ride into a lecture theatre on the back of a dancing bear wearing a sequinned body stocking and no-one would notice.  Then a friend challenged me to start wearing sparkly things that might draw the eyes of the students, the way that magpies are drawn to flashes of bright things in the grass. I used to layer metallic belts and chinking bracelets to attract attention as I walked in. I must have sounded like a prisoner in chains rattling into lecture theatres like that.

About the time that I discovered a pair of Red or Dead shoes with chains instead of straps. Now and agan I wore the Really Quite Shiny Boots. Although there was less growling from the back rows I was never entirely convinced that any of my students took the slightest bit of notice of anything that I said.

After about five years of teaching, I started to get strange pangs which I interpreted as the need to get back to practising law. I had recovered from the job that lead me to drink myself into a stupor to get to sleep at night. As it turned out subsequently, law was a bit more fun than I had remembered it being.  To this day though, I will thank the students and the lecturers that I met and worked with at N. University.

Not long before I emigrated to Australia I toddled along to a business networking event with an up and coming e-commerce entrepreneur as a speaker. He looked familiar but I couldn’t place him until he looked straight at me, smiled and said:

My law lecturer at Uni always said that contracts are a necessary evil  She accused me of not listening to her but I was.

For the record, I think that I did smile half-way through Lecture 1. I can’t help it. That’s the way my face is made.

Day 63 of the Shoe Challenge – I don’t do Domesticity but I do do Diamante

Today’s post is six days late.

I would like to be able to say that this is because I was busy at work this week (I was).  I would also like to be able to say that I had a lot to do on the domestic front (I did). The sad fact of the matter, though,  is that I am just really quite crap at doing a lot of things at once. 

If I have a lot of things to do once what I tend to do first is fart about, copiously.

Farting about is, I find, a very self nurturing exercise. It allows me time to think about all other stuff that I could be doing if I didn’t have to do the stuff that I was avoiding doing.

Once upon a time when I was a Baby Lawyer, I applied to lots of big law firms for a trainee lawyership. One such firm was BS, a highly regarded corporate law firm in Glasgow. The girl trainee lawyers all looked like Ally McBeal.  The boy trainee lawyers all smelled nice which is highly unusual in Glasgow.  It appeared to be a good place to work.

As part of its selection process for trainee lawyers, BS used psychometric tests as a way of choosing the best graduates to recruit. Nowadays this is nothing new but in the early Nineties this was cutting edge stuff.  Kind of scary cutting edge stuff – as I went into the test room, I started to get apprehensive. What deep dark secrets would this test reveal about me?

The psychometric questions that BS asked me were from one of those Myer Briggs type tests. For example:

Question: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Answer: Learning to walk in 5 inch heels.

Question: What is your favourite colour and why?

Answer:  Red patent leather. It makes my feet smile.

About halfway through the test I started to enjoy myself enormously – who doesn’t like talking about themselves after all, even if it is just to a piece of paper.

The results came in a week later.  I was scored as a ENTP personality type.  An ENTP personality type person has the following skills:

Logical decision making abilities; social skills (warm, friendly blah blah); a creative  and orginal approach to problem solving.

An ENTP personality has the following glaring flaws:

a tendency to fail to maintain focus in tasks; an inability to finish projects due to a tendency to get bored and wander off once things are underway and a preference to learn new skills instead of focusing upon those previously learned.

Put quite simply, the HR director told me, I was never going to be much cop at completing things. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t called in for an interview which is a shame as I have elevated Farting About to a veritable art form.

Which is why, instead of doing necessary paperwork (getting last year’s tax return stuff together) and finishing off last week’s blog posts (Wednesday and Thursday last week) I managed to:

  • Clean the undersides of  all the kitchen cabinets.
  • Reorganise the Minx’s shoes and clothes and the contents of the cutlery drawer by colour, smell and texture.
  • Finally put all the winter clothes that were cluttering up my wardrobe into plastic storage boxes in the garage.
  • Do four loads of washing and fold the washing up and put the washing in the spaces left by the aforesaid winter clothes which were now in boxes.
  • Update my Twitter status pretty much thrice hourly over a four day period (Friday – Monday inclusive).

If you are currently living in Australia you will know that the end of March  is the tail end of the Antipodean Autumn.  As at Anzac Day,  it will suddenly get quite cold in Sydney quite quickly. In less than a month, it will be time to get all the winter clothing back out of the garage again. So my little spurt of attempted domesticity was completely pointless.

What I could have been doing with myself and didn’t get around to might have involved improving my useful domestic skills base, for example:

  • Washing windows. We have been living in this house for over 5 years.  I haven’t washed the windows once.  I have spread the dirt around inside using spray blue window cleaner.  Occasionally I vacuum the fly screens and then my husband uses the garden hose to blast the worst of the dead insects and detritus off. The windows are kind of mawkit*. There must be a good course out there on window washing.
  • Learning how to do the ironing. There is an iron in the house. Everytime my husband irons a shirt to go out he gathers the weans about him and says to them solemnly “Children, this is an Iron. Your mother does not iron. If you would like to know how to iron, please ask me“. This is not an unfair comment. I have maybe ironed about 5 times in the last 10 years, if not the last 20 years.
  • Having a go at sewing. Actually, I do know how to sew, I am just not very good at it. One of the boxes in the garage is full of items of clothing that need buttons sewn on or zips fixed or something similar.  I open the box occasionally and peer in to see if the pixies have fixed anything yet. They haven’t.
  • Cooking. It would be an interesting exercise to cook a recipe from beginning to end without say, looking for Irregular Choice shoes on eBay, Google-ing Latin swear words or Tweeting. My food might end up actually being edible.  My husband would no doubt appreciate this almost as much as me transmogrifying into Nigella Lawson overnight.

If I learned some these new skills, I could take up the legs of my jeans myself.  As you can see from the jeans featured in this blog, mine trail on the ground (See Day 24 of the Shoe Challenge – The Colour of Controversy and Day  53 of the Shoe Challenge – Platform Slides, Plane Pee & the Perennial Problems of Denim Purchases) Of course, if I did that I wouldn’t have to keep finding heels high enough to keep the bottoms trailing on the ground.

And that would not do at all.

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* Mawkit = Scots vernacular for filthy. dirty, grubby and/or foul in the extreme.

Guest Shoe Post by IDEALAW (Kay Lam-MacLeod) – Not Quite a Matching Pair

When I read this Guest Shoe Post by Kay Lam-MacLeod, a lot of things occurred to me.

When I was twenty, I couldn’t imagine being a lawyer let alone being a lawyer with kids. At that time there just weren’t many female lawyers over the age of 35 working in the firms that I worked for let alone female lawyers with kids, husbands and lives.

Kay is a lawyer with all three of the foregoing – someone who has achieved a lot and in her own way.  She is the kind of lawyer that I wish I’d had to look forward to being when I was twenty years old.

By her own admission she a bit of rebel – she was born into a family of geeks and she turned her back on it all to become a lawyer (albeit one that specialises in technology law).  She runs her own IT law firm, IDEALAW which gives her a means of :

“Practising law in a way that won’t make me want to slash my wrists.”

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Kay Lam-McLeod's Red Wedding Stilettos

Our wedding celebrant Elizabeth asked me, in suitably hushed and sensitive tones over the phone, whether our various offspring would be involved in the wedding ceremony.

Pfft. As if we’d bring six kids along to our honeymoon.

The biggest question we asked ourselves (after ‘should we get married’, obviously)  was – what’s important – to us?  We’d been running separate businesses at opposite ends of the country (he in Western Australia, me in Queensland) juggling kids and commitments, and barely even being incidentally in the same state at the same time.  What  we really wanted was to spend some time together, just the two of us, but the other ‘trappings’ of a normal wedding, didn’t matter a jot.

We discovered that the beauty of being in your forties is that there are fewer expectations (or more accurately, there are lots more expectations, but you’re in a far better position to ignore the ones you wilfully deem extraneous).

No need for a horse and carriage fairytale wedding, or fancy but oddly inedible wedding cake.  No wedding guest list including people you wouldn’t recognise if you bumped into them in the street. No wedding party encompassing various distant relatives and friends from school.  We frankly didn’t have the time and patience to organise a full scale wedding.  The very prospect of packing bonbonnieres filled me with a strange sense of dread.  And our friends and family know they’re welcome to drop by to our house any time to wish us well (gifts are even optional).

So we decided to elope to Tasmania, combining the wedding ceremony with a week-long honeymoon.

What to wear?  Red’s my favourite colour. I did buy a new frock, red of course –  but dispensed with the veil, tiara, jewellery and bouquet (and funny horseshoe shaped ornaments and frilly garter the groom’s supposed to remove with his teeth)… after all, the whole kit and caboodle would have to be lumbered around for the rest of the honeymoon as well.

Shoes? Ah the shoes.  I was tempted to go barefoot.  I didn’t particularly want to buy new shoes and then cover them with the same fabric from the frock – it just seemed like too much hard work.

But when I looked through my shoe collection, I found I had no less than half a dozen pairs of red shoes already.  Did I mention red’s my favourite colour?

I settled on my favourite pair of pointy toed red patent stilettos. The ones I’d bought on sale several years ago, only to find when I got home that they weren’t quite a matching pair – but which I kept anyway because they fit so nicely.

We hired a heritage listed workers cottage in the historic village of Richmond, and were married under the 100 year old apple tree in the gardens.  No one was invited.

In a strange way, my mismatching red stilettos served as a symbol of two people who, even though they might not match according to the standard rules of convention, simply felt so right that it was hard to argue they didn’t belong together.  I understand other brides have dreams of exactly how they want their weddings to be, and I wish them all the best.  But we made a conscious decision to ignore convention and do things our own way.

And as we strolled around the village following the ceremony, having a few photos taken, I found there was a distinct advantage to wedding shoes which were already well and truly worn in.

Then afterwards, we went to the Richmond Arms, the local pub, and had steak and chips for dinner.

Day 62 of the Shoe Challenge – Flagitious Pandas & Nefarious Sandals

Ravel Sandals

Sometimes things are not as they seem.

This is Pandy.

Pandy, the Evil Panda

Pandy looks appealing. He comes, as far as the Minx is concerned, in the colours of appeal – that is the trusty black/white combo.

Black and white toys, as anyone involved in selling childcare products will tell you, are vital for stimulating the visual perception of babies. Little people reflexively prefer to look at high-contrast edges and patterns. Of course, some of us Generation X vintage parents had absolutely no choice but to look at black and white patterns – our parents couldn’t afford colour tellies until the Seventies.  When I watched the moon landings on TV (after Andy Pandy) the whole thing looked looked a bit like this:

Moon Landings July 20, 1969

Since I was a small person at the time, to this day I am convinced that Apollo 11 actually landed on this wee, small, hollow plane right here nourished by Blue String Pudding:

So it wasn’t too hard for me to believe that NASA did in fact fake the moon landings with the help of Oliver Postgate and The Clangers team.

In fact, I am still more excited by the possibility that Buzz Aldren might have met the Soup Dragon than by the alleged  moon landings themselves.  Such is the power of black and white on young children.

It is just this magic that I relied on to perform a swift and really not very nice sleight of hand on my poor, wee unsuspecting Minx. He may look cute but Pandy is, in fact, baby bondage.

His cute little paws circle my daughter’s chest in not-so-cleverly-concealed plastic harness clips. Once on his tail, much longer than the tail of any ring-tailed lemur let alone a panda, becomes a leash or a tether rope.  In other words Pandy is… a set of child reins.  In one fell swoop I have turned my daughter into a pony for a cuddly panda.

For many years I vowed that I would not put child reins on my child.  I watched a grandfather take his six grandchildren for a walk, tethered together like sheep with a clothes line and shuddered.  Thank goodness, I thought, that I don’t have to inflict that torture on my child. This was before the aforesaid child exhibited the ability to end up in the middle of a dual carriageway in the time that it takes to scream STOOOOOOOP.

To get over the guilt of pulling a fast one on my daughter I feed her chocolate to stop her screaming while I strap her into her Panda prison.

Meantime, on the shoe front I found myself wearing what appear, prima facie, to be bondage gladiator sandals styled on those worn by the lovely Rihanna

Givenchy Bondage Sandals

But as with Evil Panda, my sandals are not what they seem and, in fact, have an nefarious purpose. Whereas the Givenchy sandals when viewed in profile have a dangerous, spiky heel:

my sandals turned to one side show a heel of the height that the tea lady would wear when wheeling in the refreshments trolley to the gladiators:

Despite their nefarious purpose (enabling me to walk) the sandals are otherwise a good sort and I am happy to have them in my home and on my feet.

The Panda, on the other hand, is probably going to spend the night in the freezer in the garage.  Just in case.

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If you have never watched the Clangers, get yourself over here and watch it forthwith.

Day 61 of the Shoe Challenge – It’s not your shoes I’m looking at…

Filippo Raphael black pumps (low) 3 inch heel

Many people  have completely the wrong impression of me.

I have met a few blog readers now. Before each meeting they will send me a text message saying something along the lines of –

I am wearing flats/sandals/bare feet, please don’t be offended. Please don’t judge me.

These people all think that because I love shoes, because I blog about shoes,  the first thing that I will notice about a person is their shoes. People often think that but no, I do not notice your shoes – the first thing that I notice about you all is ….

Actually, I couldn't stop staring at your teeth.

… your teeth or lack thereof. I got the Austin Powers teeth jokes because I am obsessed with teeth. As a British person, I find it impossible not to look at people’s teeth. I will tell you now that everything that you have ever heard about British people in the teeth department is absolutely true -British people have horrible teeth. Middle class Australian people in common with middle class North America and Canadian people have nice teeth. There is a class based teeth divide.

Remember also that I am Scottish – if English is the Bad Teeth progenitor of the world, Scotland is the Nae Teeth equivalent.

My gran, for example, was encouraged to get her teeth out at the first sign of toothache. One of my dentists back home told me twelve years ago about a (then) middle  aged woman who had come in to her for new dentures. This lady had apparently been taken to the dentist at the age of 15 with toothache and put under general anaesthetic only to wake up and find that all her teeth had been extracted. Her  mother thought it best to avoid any future toothache.  These days, of course, one could probably have the dentist charged with assault for removing the aforesaid lady’s teeth without consent but  in those days folk had stiffer upper lips (due to the dentures, no doubt).

There is a long and rich tradition of truly awful British teeth in the public eye.

My father could never watch (or listen to)  David Bowie because of his crooked  teeth:

which are still scary to this day despite being fixed –

although not quite as bad as say, Kate Moss’ ex Pete Doherty –

but certainly not as bad as  (heaven forfend) Shane McGowan of the Pogues –

Victoria Clarke, Shane’s gorgeous girlfriend, now has to speak for him in interviews because he has no teeth left and cannot, therefore, speak for himself. Am I the only person out there who wonders and balks at snogging a man WITH NO TEETH?

It is one of my great character flaws noticing teeth. So much so that if I had done that interview with Shane  linked to above I would be sitting on his lap peering into his mouth and counting the stumps.

I digress.

Where did this obsession come from? I suspect that it, like my obsession with boots, came from my dad. He has been going on about nice looking teeth for as long as I can remember him going on about anything. He has spent the price of a Jaguar car and more over the years on preserving his teeth.

So now that I am here in the land of the almost perfect teeeth (Australia) what am I looking at?

It is certainly not your shoes.  Bear in mind though, that I do have a residual shoe memory (RSM) chip built in. While I am looking at your teeth some recessive shoe recognition gene is at work in the back of my brain processing your shoes.

But for my RSM why would I have chosen to purchase these shoes?

Well in order to answer that question, you have to dig deep into my RSM… back to 1968 and to the film Chitty Bang Bang. Check out the video link, but keep a firm eye on Sally Anne Howe’s shoes…

PS I have to say  Anna Quayle’s corset scene in that film (as Baroness  Bomburst) still defines my idea of sexy female boudoir attire to this day…

Anna Quayle in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (with corset)

But that, my dear people, is a repressed memory to be unleashed some other time. if you  are up for the challenge…

Guest Blog Post by Moira Macgregor-Conrad “May I have this Dance?”

The only things that I knew about Moira before I met her was that she had lovely long hair and looked very nice with pierced ears. Our mutual paternal grandmother, Helen , told me this after her trip to see “the family in California”.

Helen/Wee Nellie Macgregor

Our gran was a ferocious and strange little person.  She was one of these Scottish women who would stop and chat merrily to someone else in the street asking after the other party’s gout, grandchildren and funeral plans. No sooner had the other party departed, she would turn to me and say “See that one? She’s a spark oot of hell so she is. I wouldnae pee on her if she was oan fire. How’s school hen?”

Gran was very keen on Moira and apparently similarly keen on me, so I’m told even though I:

  • consistently failed to get my ears pierced despite years of constant encouragement from her; and
  • had all my long hair sliced off when I was ten.

Gran was always delighted with Moira’s dress sense, jewellery and hairstyles and would be completely chuffed to bits with Moira’s choice of career. Once upon a time Moira would have been known as a wardrobe mistress and she has won awards for her work.

At the moment she is the Supervisor is in charge of the costumes and dressers the Broadway production of on the “Dividing the Estate” by Horton Foote. She is the person who makes sure that everyone looks period perfect (see below).

Dividing the Estate at the Booth Theatre on Broadway & 45th, NYC

Moira still looks very pretty, still has the long hair, the pierced ears and the gorgeous slim figure that she had in the Eighties. The former is despite her legendary, long term love of Del Taco Mexican food.

She has great genes though…

Moira's dad (& my uncle) outside the Cathedral Church of Saint Mirin in Paisley

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If there is one thing I have learned from reading this blog, it is that shoes are so much more than items that cover our feet.  Of course, what we choose to put on our feet is a very definite reflection of our individual taste and personalities.  This is knew.  What I didn’t understand, until I agreed to the requests to write this guest blog, was how a pair of shoes could open the flood gates of memory and emotion.

Let me begin by saying that I have always loved to dance, I’ve just never been very good or very confident at it.  In private, I can cut a rug with the best of them.  In public, I need some help from my good friend Captain Morgan before I feel comfortable.

When I was younger, we would go to social gatherings at The Melrose Club, which was basically a meeting place for ex-pat Scottish folk.  At these events, there would be food, and chat, and drinks, and…dancing.  My Mum and Dad would quick-step around the room looking, to my eyes, as utterly graceful as Fred and Ginger.  (My Mum would often reminisce about going to the dance halls back home in Paisley, and floating around the room to Glenn Miller’s “Little Brown Jug”.  She always seemed so happy remembering those times).  Now, when we were going to these dances/club gatherings, the average age of a Melrose Club member was probably in their 50s, while I and the other young adults were in our teens.  I had never danced in public to the big bands.  Hell, I had probably only danced in public to the New Wave sounds of the early ’80s at school dances.  Yet, watching my Mum and Dad circle the floor, I knew I wanted nothing more than to get out on there and give it a try.

Moira & Chris Conrad - Wedding Dance

I got my chance.  My Dad asked me to dance, and even though I had never done it before, he made me feel like Ginger Rogers and Cyd Charisse, all rolled into one graceful package.  That night, I learned how important a strong lead is, and my Dad was a strong lead.  At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to learn how to ballroom dance, so I could circle the floor with my Dad again.

Fast forward 16 years to 2002, my wedding day.  My wonderful new husband had known how important it was for me to feel comfortable in our First Dance, so he too an introductory “Bride and Groom’s First Dance” class with me.  We pieced together a routine to Frank Sinatra’s “More”, and performed a somewhat awkward, but ultimately rewarding, slow fox trot.  My biggest regret of that day was the fact that my Dad had died before I got my chance to dance with him at my wedding.  I’m sure that in his arms that slow fox trot would have become an elegant quick step.  I do have a wonderful memory to help balance out that painful one.  My best friend’s father, whom I have known for 30 years, knowing how much I was missing my on Dad, asked me if he could have the dance.  Even though something was missing, I still felt graceful.  The art of being a strong lead is fast disappearing, thank goodness there are still men out there who know how to make their partner look good.

Fast forward once  more to 2008, and the reason I am writing this guest blog.  My husband and I now live in New York City.  He still knows how much I wish I could dance, and when I opened my Christmas gifts, among them are private ballroom dance classes at Fred Astaire Studios in Manhattan.  My husband and I have been attending classes for over a year now, and in that time we have learned how to fox trot, waltz, tango, rhumba, and mambo.  He has learned how to lead, and I have learned how to follow.  I have also purchased something I never would have guessed I would own, my very own pair of black t-strap sueded ballroom dance shoes.

Dance Shoes

These shoes aren’t glamourous.  They aren’t gold, or silver, or sparkly.  They are a very basic edition of dance shoe, but they represent so much more than a mere aesthetic.  They represent the time spent with my husband learning something new.  They illustrate the love the husband feels for me in giving his time to something he knows is important to me.  And, they are a very real reminder of why I wanted to learn how to dance in the first place.

One of the best looking boys in Paisley - Ready for the Dancing

I wish I could strap on my shoes, take my father’s hand, and dance just one more time to Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”.  This time, Dad wouldn’t have to work so hard to make me look like Ginger Rogers.  We could dance more as equals.  Yet I know I would still be guided by my Dad’s strong lead.

Day 60 of the Shoe Challenge – The Science of Ornament & Motherhood

Something happened to me when I had children.  Something odd, something unexpected.

I stopped wearing jewellery. I stopped wearing make up.

Why would this be? I can understand my replacement of high heels with sneakers. Getting home quickly is a priority when you are on a strict feeding and sleeping regime (Hi there Gina Ford!).

I can understand flowing tops instead of nipped in waists. It takes a wee while for your innards to reposition themselves after an overenthusiastic womb occupant has been bouncing off them.

But why did I stop wearing my amber rings, my necklaces, my armlets, my ankle bracelets and so on?

What purpose did this absence of ornament serve? Lipstick I avoided (and still avoid) because it makes me adhere to my children’s skin and hair when I kiss them.  Perfume I tend to avoid because my son tells me I smell. But why have I given up my jewellery?

Would my children sleep /behave more appalllingly if I wore my armour ring?

Would the staff at the Minx’s  day care centre be scandalised if I wore my Indian hand ornaments?

I suppose that like so many things about my body since childbirth I have imposed these arbitrary restrictions on myself. It is as if a hierarchy of ornament and self-service evolved as soon as my children were born.

The first thing that I concentrated on after I gave birth to my children was re-asserting control over my belly.While it is quite delightful to have a small person writhing and elbowing you from within, it is odd and disturbing to have a flat, firm belly turn into a domed Easter egg in such a short time frame.

Very soon after the births of the Noisy Boy and the Minx, therefore, I was hard at work reclaiming my flat tummy. Nothing stood in my way. As soon as my  children hit the pillow for naps I was doing Pilates mat exercises as if my very life depended on it.

While concentrating on pulling up my pelvic floor  and my tranverse abdominus and aiming for total obliteration of my muffin top  I didn’t give a jot about my grey roots, make up, manicures, pedicures or jewellery and so on.  Nothing else mattered quite as much as getting a washboard abdomen again. All I wanted was to see my pre-natal silhouette – to do so was to reclaim my sense of self.

Many women talk about the exhilaration of getting into their pre-pregnancy  jeans again after childbirth.  I totally understand this. For nine months and beyond another small, pink, demanding human being has first dibs on virtually all of your body parts.  As soon as the birthing process has completed you can start to slowly and steadily reclaim little bits of yourself. As I did.

No one is entirely the same after having children, either inside or out. What I can say is that you look at and appreciate things entirely differently after you have been pregnant. You appreciate that your body functions the way that it should and that it can produce healthy babies. You are not a bad mother, however, for wanting to get back to the stage where laughing or jogging doesn’t result in incontinence.

So ornamentation in jewellery form for me now is less important than it once was. Physical strength is much, much more important for me.

Now and again though when I slip on a pair of sparkly shoes I can imagine that I am the person that I once was. The one that spent hours choosing the right shoes, the right jewellery to compliment an outfit, the exact shade of lipstick.

As those of you with young children will have observed, getting dressed to go out whether to work or elsewhere is about achieving the the lowest common denominator of glam in the shortest possible time frame. And this is where a bit of twinkle on your shoes comes in…

Alan Pinkus Diamante Wedges

Day 59 of the Shoe Challenge – My Powder Blue Tribute to Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy

What do you think of when you see these colours?

Some of you might think of the seaside, or the summer sky or the colour of your first school shirt.

Me, I think of the late great Mollie Sugden and the classic British situation comedy Are You Being Served?

When my husband and I arrived in Australia in March 2000 it caused us no end of amusement to shop in the Grace Brothers store in Sydney.  Half way through the cosmetics department one or other of us would turn round and sponteneously channel  either Mr Humphries or Mrs Slocombe:

Are you free dear?” (Me)

I’m free!” (My Husband)

My Husband:  “May I suggest that you take your underwear down at once?!”

[IN JEWELLERY DEPARTMENT] My Husband: “Oh, look darling!  A diamante collar for your pussy.”

Me:  “Thank you dear. We‘ve got to get home now though.  If my pussy isn’t attended to by 8 o’clock, I shall be strokin’ it for the rest of the evening.”

Ah, the maturity of British Seventies sitcoms.

Sadly in February 2004 a marketing decision was by the Coles-Myer group to rename all its stores including its Grace Brothers stores as Myer stores.

Without the trade mark Grace Bros logo I  have only Mrs Slocombe’s favourite hair colours to trigger my memories of Are You Being Served?

These are some of the colours that I associate with her:  lilac, tangerine, bilious green and regal silver.


But the colour I most associate with Mollie/Mrs Slocombe is powder blue.

It is a difficult colour to wear on one’s head, let alone one’s feet.

As you will recall I am trying not to wear quite so much black and powder blue is about as far away from black as you can get. Even my dad would be pleased with these, I reckon particularly as they are Italian shoes with leather uppers, downers and in-between bits.

Kitten Heeled Sandals by Via Spiga http://www.viaspiga.com/#

Powder blue is quite hard to match with other shades so I decided to go with the a white, cream, ash of roses and cloud grey combo colour scheme to carry off the unaccustomed colour. I was quite chuffed with the outcome, particularly as I am not a pastel kind of girl.

It seems, however, that I hit a bit of a bum note.  I had spent so much time concentrating on the colour scheme to work with my shoes, that I didn’t realise that my skirt is virtually transparent in certain lights. According to my husband you could not only see my knickers but possibly (ahem) a bit more.

And so it seems that Mollie Sugden and the writers of Are You Being Served?   had the last laugh on me.

This should be a lesson to me to concentrate a bit less on my shoes and a bit more on  undergarments suitable for a professional woman, wife and mother of two.

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Mollie Sugden died on July 1, 2009 and within 24 hours Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy became the number 1 trending topic on Twitter until the censors stepped in.

Day 58 of the Shoe Challenge – Warning: Dangerous Shoes Ahead

It takes a long time to get from A to B with a two year old.  The average 1.8 kilometre walk from the shops to our house can take upwards of an hour. Left to her own devices the Minx might find a way home for us in under three hours but I have never allowed her to.

A recent journey involved:

  • counting all the mailboxes outside a block of high flats;
  • meeting, greeting and naming the small army of ants congregating in and around a crack in the pavement 4oo metres from the aforesaid high flats;
  • encountering several lizards living in a dry stone walls 8oo metres from the ants’ abode and discussing the meaning of life with them;
  • building an extension to the dry stone wall with gravel and bits of concrete found around the foundations of the house belonging to the wall; and
  • picking frangipani blossoms off the ground and trying to thread these between the laces in my shoes.

Very, very, very cute indeed. Also frustrating and a good exercise in living in the moment and thinking about other things while one is doing so.

Other things like my complete inability to walk in flat shoes. Every time I wear flat shoes something unpleasant happens. The same thing does not apply to sandals thankfully otherwise I would have to move to somewhere other than Sydney.

Dangerous Ballet Flats

Observe the scuff marks on the toes.

When I bought these shoes it was solely to ensure that I had something comfortable to walk in while pregnant with the Minx. Unfortunately I could not have anticipated how wide my feet would grow in nine months, nor how much wind I would break.  The farting and the rate at which my feet grew thankfully slowed down towards my due date.  My feet returned to their normal shape and size post-partum unlike other bits of me which will not be photographed for the purpose of this blog.

When I returned to work after my maternity leave ended, I was still in comfort mode wearing flat shoes, loose flowing tops and so on.   Striding confidently and comfortably downhill from Edgecliff Station to our old law offices in Double Bay one fine spring day, I turned the corner down a small incline.

There was a short  gradient no steeper than your average wheelchair ramp. “Must walk down this carefully‘ I remember reminding myself.

The next thing I knew my right leg was doing the splits in front of me while my left knee was grinding into the the concrete behind me. The toes of my shoes and my left knee bear the scars to this day.

It isn’t much fun picking denim out of bare, pulverised raw flesh.  Needless to say, I don’t wear these pumps very often any more. Experts do say that flat shoes are not the ideal for overall foot and leg health. You have been warned…

Guest Blog – The Real Sydney – Keeping it fashionable, fearless, furious & real

She is quite a lady this one who calls herself  The Real Sydney.

The topics that she covers in  The Real Sydney Blog include:

Beauty Fashion Books Celebrities Craziness Fashion Friends Life Love Media Real World Relationships Sex Soapbox TV and Movies

She describes herself on her blog header as: Authentic. Honest. Original. Amazing.

I agree wholeheartedly with her description and would add the following adjectives to the mix: fabulous, fascinating, fashion-forward and fearless

If you are looking for something to read there is always something new and fabulous on The Real Sydney Blog. My favourite blog posts this week include:

Stanley Tucci is HOT!

She is absolutely 100% right. With bells on. My husband and I were just discussing how hot Stanley is after watching him in the film Julie & Julia and at the Oscars. Actually, I  have had more than a bit of a Stanley Tucci crush since Murder One which also featured the thinking woman’s man candy Daniel Benzali.

Other posts that I have thoroughly enjoyed are:

What it’s like to be ‘The Other Woman’ http://bit.ly/cV0UvU (A mistress’ tale which was most fitting in the light of the Observer article  Is Anyone Faithful Anymore? published last Sunday, 7 March 2010.

Disaster Porn & The Media on our morbid fascination with tragedy. Is it schadenfreude, voyeurism or an attempt to actually feel something that drives us to wallow in the horrors of Haiti and the like?

There is a great balance of light and shade, serious and effervescent in her writing. Visit once and you will be visiting daily to read more. I do.

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The Killer Wedges

In the early 90’s I was in my early 20’s and newly separated, my baby daughter was ensconced at my parents home every second Saturday night, so that I could have some all important me time.

What did I do with that me time?  I got dressed in my hottest hot pants, my shortest crop top and my chunkiest platforms and went dancing all night in my favourite gay club DCM (Don’t Cry Mama) on Oxford St in Sydney.  Back in the very early 90’s DCM was still a gay club, full of drag queens and transvestites and OTT gay boys – I loved it – it was a far cry from my normal life in the burbs with my baby – it was my escape.

I found the Killer Wedges in a shop called Scooter, they were AU$25.00 – probably one of my greatest bargains, to this day.  I wore them ALL THE TIME, with shorts, skirts and leather pants – they made my legs look a mile long and they were funky to the power of wicked!

It wasn’t long before more and more flamboyant straight people started to find this little piece of inner city amazingness, soon DCM was full of body builders, and models, and dancers, and beautiful everyday people dressed in outfits made from PVC, leather, sequins, feathers and shiny shiny lycra (not a typo, the lyrcra was very shiny) – it was all completely delicious and infectious!

The deep house beats, the skin, and the DJ way up high waiting to be praised – it was all about the look and the music.  It was during these years that I met Brett (RIP) and we spent many nights there together – it wasn’t uncommon for us to wear matching outfits, him in leather pants, me in leather hot pants and matching colour tops – we both even had short cropped platinum blonde hair! (I know, I know – but it was very cool in the 90’s in that scene – you’ll have to trust me on that).

DCM became a Sydney sub culture of it’s own and the glory days lasted about 5 years before it became quite mainstream & gangster – eventually there was quite a bit of violence and even a couple of shootings there … so most of us moved on to different lives, those days were over, a new darker presence had moved in – there were no more feathers and sequins. And even though I left that time in my life behind me, I always kept the Killer Wedges.

Funnily enough, that baby daughter that I left with my parents every second Saturday night, now has friends that go to DCM, it’s not the same now though, it may even have a different name.  She won’t go there – who wants to say “yeah my mum used to come here 15 years ago!” – to her, it’s just an old school club.

In 2007 some of my gay friends convinced (threatened) me to go to Sleaze Ball with them (Sleaze Ball is the main annual fundraising event for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and Festival alongside the Mardi Gras Party).  Back in the 90’s I went to every single Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball party,  but I hadn’t been for a long time, so after I agreed (through force) to go, I found a hot little jump suit and I pulled out the killer wedges!!  It was so much fun, but I gotta tell ya, the Killer Wedges weren’t nearly as comfortable as I remembered them to be and after 8 hours of dancing and walking around, people watching – my feet were not very happy with me!

I will never part with my Killer Wedges & who knows, they may still get to go out again one day … actually, next time I go to an amazing gay party, I’m gonna wear them – rock on Killer Wedges!