Day 78 of the Shoe Challenge – Reverse, reflect, rewind

I’ve not been able to write anything much for weeks and can’t figure out why.

It is winter – I sleep well sandwiched like a jammy clad beef patty inside a flannel-sheet-feather-duvet-patchwork-quilt-like hamburger bun.

The Minx only wakes up occasionally to shriek for her Daddy in the middle of the night to retrieve DogDog.

Theoretically, therefore, I well and I am rested and I should be capable of blethering on ad nauseum about footwear. It’s not as it I have not had enough practice by now. But my mind has been elsewhere. Maybe it’s symbolic or maybe I am just being lazy or maybe I just needed a wee break.

You’ll be glad to know that meantime I have been elsewhere occupied mostly doing things that I have no intention of writing about. That and watching a lot of videos.  Retro kids videos like Chip n Dale.

Still from "Two Chips and Miss" Walt Disney 1952

Despite featuring worryingly adult themed rodent love triangles Chip n Dale cartoons have a soporific effect on my children. While the chipmunks are squeaking away merrily on the piano, the weans cuddling up together and giggling on the sofa instead of trying to decapitate each other. Good times. Times to relax, to rewire the brain off and recharge the batteries.

Or maybe it has just been too cold and wet to get my toes into most of the shoes that I want to wear. Cue these Amanda Starr beauties which I wore yesterday despite the fact that there was frost on the ground. My toes felt brittle, about to break off. It was just like a Glasgow autumn morning. Not the best day to wear open toed shoes.

Amanda Starr Silk Leather Open Toed Floral Pumps (made by Anna Fiori, Italy)

My husband is not that keen on them. He reckons that the leather flowers look like badly crafted plasticine models created by a bored eight year old. To me finding these shoes was an unexpected delight after a week of eBay bidding in vain for 5.5 inch covered platform skyscraper heels like these:

and trying not to bid for ridiculously expensive Gianmarco Lorenzi shoes like these:

The Amanda Starr’s cheered me up because they are a little piece of Australian shoe couture history. Ms Starr is an Australian accessories designer who once used to create  shoes and handbags from vintage fabrics and leathers. Everything that she made was strictly limited edition, lusted after and featured regularly in all the Australian fash mags. One of my favourite pairs of boots were from her 2002 Fall collection.

Somewhere along the line, probably when I was off having children and not wearing heels, she gave up shoe making to make jewellery with vintage bits of fabric and leather instead. Her shoes are now virtually impossible to find.

It is smashing whimsical jewellery that she makes but it is nowhere near as wonderful as her shoes were. Now I am destined  to reflect on what I should have bought more of nine years and attempt to retrieve her shoes and boots from wherever I can find them.

A while ago I emailed Amanda Starr to ask why she had eschewed shoes. To date she has not replied.

Not everyone likes to press the rewind button and many prefer not to revisit their past. Perhaps for her designing footwear would be a retrograde step.

Retro is one of those words and concepts which catches your tongue like a piece of apple skin stuck in your teeth. Such a twee word in so many ways and yet so apt in that it simultaneously means remininiscent of, reverting to or recreating a style. Let’s face it, we have been reviving and revamping clothing and footwear for a long time. Recreating items that we remember from the past evokes a tender emotional response that resonates inside us.

On the wall of my office to my right hand side above my computer screen there is a vintage film poster that the Boss may have placed there to inspire me to dress up a bit more:

Being in such close proximity to Marilyn Monroe’s curved buttocks and calves for two years has had a strange effect on me – I’ve stopped wearing jeans and opaque tights and started buying stockings with a vengeance after a fifteen year break.

For a while now, I have been stocking (excuse the bad pun) up on Leg Avenue hosiery (my pal Nomes Messenger’s favourite brand) and revelling in coming across new brands including Trasparenze which my new shoe gal pal Erin over at Shoe Love has blogged about.

To channel Marilyn (in a short, non-blonde, bespectacled West of Scotland  sort of way) I even bought myself a few pairs of Levee full contrast nude with black seamed stockings.

These are not fully fashioned but they are silky sheer and have reinforced heels and toes. I’ll have to pick up a pair of hosiery gloves before I splurge on the real deal. Oh, and a hosiery hanger:

Stockings hanger & hosiery gloves from Pandora's Choice

Then I just need to figure out how to line up the seams  – a skill that has always escaped me.

Even once I have managed to get seamed stockings on straight, during the day the seams go off on a frolic and curlicue round my legs like drunken worms.  But the allure of having legs that look like Marilyn’s even for a milli-second is too strong a pull to resist. The effect is a bit more haphazard, but surely there is room for individuality within the confines of a straight line?

Selling My Sole – Guest Shoe Blog Post by Damana Madden

You should know that I am a bit of a nudzh. I worry about people.  When John Carney introduced me to Damana she was going through that whole picking up the pieces of her life that follows on from a marital break down. “I have to throw away all my D&G designer stuff” she tweeted at one point last year “because the letters spell Damana &  Giles“.

This piece from her Tropical Snowflake blog (written in April this year) kind of sums what a heart feels like a year after it has been broken:

People told me “Damana, in a year or so you will look back on your time with Giles and remember the good times but you would have moved on. You will see it as a good thing.”

It’s more than a year now. I try not to calculate exactly the number of days. He felt out of love with me two years before he even left. That was 5 months after we were married. He was the one who wanted to get married.

So he’s off now with his new girlfriend called Nadia, who looks like a lovely person. Someone I would even be friends with. She’s thin. Flat stomach. Straight hair. White. Not anything like me.

I know that if someone doesn’t love you then you are better off without them but I don’t feel better off. I still feel heartbroken. I still feel devastated. I still cry myself to sleep. I still hope he thinks of me at all.

This has to end, right? It can’t be this way forever. I don’t want to feel like this anymore.

Her ex-husband, helpfully, suggested at about that time that she should just do away with herself  rather than continuing to make him feel guilty by writing about the fact that she felt like a piece of pulverised meat. I sent her a lot of direct messages. “Are you okay hen?” I asked “you will feel better eventually just not soon enough”. God knows who the hell she thought I was because she didn’t reply.  Knowing her the way that I do now I expect she probably thought I was being an overfamiliar, nosey pain in the arse.  These are fair criticisms to level because if I see someone who appears to be suffering whether on the street or online I will stick my nose in.  It’s a West of Scotland thing.

So the first thing that I noticed about Damana was her raw pain and her honesty. Then I started to notice her shoe photos.

They say it don't matter if it's black or white so I chose both for today's shoes.

This is someone who has completely mental taste in shoes” I thought “someone not dissimilar to me“.  I asked her to blog about her shoes for me. She declined.  I checked her Flickr shoe galleries out. I waited out my time until I had the opportunity to send her a link to this pair of Irregular Choice shoes:

We talked (briefly) about opening a shoe store.  I asked her to blog for me. She said maybe.  That was her undoing. I started nagging her to blog for me in earnest.  I had no shame. We are the same shoe size after all. A little while ago, before we met I tried again:

She declined again.

We went for lunch – she wouldn’t let me pay for anything. Silently I cursed myself for giving in to the champagne and letting her pick up the tab. I knew that I had no leverage to get a blog out of her. I was beginning to get desperate.

I waited until she was at a low ebb emotionally. Yesterday she tweeted:

I took this as my moment to strike:

She replied:

Bingo! I am not proud of myself but at least I am persistent and low and behold after months of nagging Damana, my sole mate is finally blogging for me.

Now see if you can find the swear word…

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SELLING MY SOLE

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

If Mark Twain was right then I’ll take that axiom and extend it to…

Shoes make the woman and going barefoot won’t get you squat.

People often talk about superficiality and how it does not matter what the outside looks like, if the inside is good. Unfortunately, the world we live in runs by a different set of rules. It is not a meritocracy full of people who look for your soul. You are more likely to get an immediate positive reaction to the sole of your shoe.

Now before you go postal on me, let me say that the facade only gets you in the door. What keeps you there and gains you a front row seat in life, is the content. The inside bits. The who-you-are part. The stuff that matters.

The unfair thing here is that you may not even get a look in if you don’t get the looking.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far… well, when I was younger anyway, I realised that I was never going to be a supermodel. I didn’t even rate as one of the girls in school who the guys even noticed. Luckily for me, high school finished quickly and I went to university where the geeky computer science boys were overly impressed by my mathematical abilities and the cool code I wrote. At least that is what they told me. At the time, they were not the meterosexual sensitive types that they have since grown in to with help from their good incomes and gorgeous girlfriends. Then they were the boy versions of me – frumpy and unaware of my untapped potential. We had all given up on cool so long ago that we couldn’t care less about what was the latest “in” thing or which shoes would make us appear “all that”. We lived in a bubble that allowed a world where our brains and academic achievements proceeded us and carried us to what we saw as high social plains.

Then the bubble burst…

Work started and people reacted to how I looked. I was a little girl with no sense of fashion or even a sense of lacking it. I still didn’t care. It annoyed me a little. People who dressed well seemed to get the ear and the trust of the big important people who wore expensive shoes with names that meant zip to me.

I persisted. This ridiculous world of superficial imbalance wasn’t going to devalue me for not conforming to it. I would resist until they saw me for who I was and valued me. It worked but it took a while. When I moved on in my career to different jobs and roles, I had to prove myself again and again. I put a lot of this down to the fact that I was a woman working in a man’s world. That was partially true. It was always going to be tough ride.

Don’t get me wrong, I dressed in suits and business clothes and tried to blend in as much as possible. Maybe if I appeared to be like everyone else then I’d get the chance to show how different and valuable I was. It worked but it took a while.

My most fashionable friend Jennifer Coombes took me under her wing, in my later years in Canberra. We would meet up for coffee and shopping. We started with funky toe socks at the time. Then we moved on to fashion jewellery and long winter scarves that looked like the one from Dr Who but were made by some cool brand name that still meant zip to me. My wardrobe changed from business suits to expensive business suits with fancy stockings and stiletto black leather boots. Heads turned. Attitudes changed. When I changed the job scene or the social one, it didn’t take so long for people to see my uniqueness and obvious brilliance. In fact, I started getting upset that they didn’t actually wait long enough to see me do really cool stuff. It was shallow. It was effective.

Of course, I worked bloody hard and was fantastic at what I did. The only difference now was that I looked the way they expected someone with my talents to look. It worked and it did not take a while. It pained me at first until the day I realised that I could make the difference I wanted to make now and in good time. The hollow men followed and listened and benefitted and felt no pain in doing it.

As I became more well known for what I could do, what I had done and who I was, I did one thing that the shallow types never expected. I gave people who didn’t have the right shoes a chance. Doors opened for them that never did for me without much hard work or Burberry. We benefitted from their skills early. They got the chance to make a difference and contribute without selling out.

Did I sell out? I don’t think so. I hung on to the wonderful soul and stomp around in wonderful soles. Each day, I still make sure that although I care about what I wear, I will never give a shit about what anyone else wears.

Liking Orange Shoes

Day 77 of the Shoe Challenge – Geek Ladies Lunch Date Boots

3 Times OTK Boots

Do you remember Sex and the City when it was on the telly? When there was nudity and energetic shagging and Carrie was still cool and all the ladies had long lunches with scandalous topics of conversation?

Until recently, I had never had one of those lunches. Until Damana Madden arranged a ladies lunch and directed that the dress code was ‘long boots’.

The Vital Statistics:

Venue:  Bird Cow Fish, 500 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Photo originally appeared on the Melbourne Gastronome Blog January 2010

The Attendees:

Alegrya, Damana,  Cathie McGinn, Kristen Obaid, Me

The Chow:

Potato gnocchi with prawn meat sautéed in burnt butter, verjuice, capers & crispy sage

Langoustines, courgette and fennel salad or (to Aus-ify it as Cathie McGinn would say)  yabbies with zucchini and fenn-o.

Fish & Chips

Possibly too much Veuve Cliquot

(All courtesy of the absurdly  generous Damana).

The Occasion:

I would say that this was a Geek Girl lunch but then, apparently, I would be infringing a trade mark. As a mostly law abiding lawyer I would not dream of doing so.

So it therefore came to pass that five fair geek ladies (it is my story shaddup) joined together in lifting our champagne glasses aloft  aloft and talking about a number of things that turned heads and caused much tsk tsking at the other tables as follows:

Topic 1 – Breastfeeding

How we ended up talking about breastfeeding is less relevant than the public reaction to our discussion. If you ever want to get a roomful of people to go silent immediately this is the topic to do it. In fact I am pretty sure that tumble weed tumbled past for the duration of this part of our discussion.  Two or three people  left at one particularly graphic point. You would probably rather not be involved with the mechanics of the let down reflex and the accompanying trajectory speeds discussed or how the taste and composition of breast milk changes depending on the time of day.  The accusatory fingers should quite rightly have been aimed at Kristen and I as none of the other ladies have kids. Nor are they likely to want them now, I’ll wager.

In the light of the number of stomachs we turned, I wonder how/when chef Daniel Angerer will eventually introduce his now canapé of breast-milk cheese with figs and Hungarian pepper to his Klee Brasserie clientele.

Chef Daniel Angerer's Blog - Mommy's Milk - February 6, 2010

Topic 2 – Nice Smelling Stuff

Meeting people in the flesh as opposed to online involves dealing with a host of competing sensory stimuli.  You see people in three rather than two dimensions – you hear the timbre and the warmth in their voices, you are bombarded with an immediate olfactory sense of that person as soon as you hug them. All of these things, in my experience, either draw you to the person or put you on fight or flight stand-by.  It is something that always worries me before I met people in real life who I have formed previous online relationships with.  So when you meet me please don’t be concerned if I appear to be sniffing you. If I am close enough to do so take this as a good sign. Trust me – if I don’t like the way you smell, I’ll be on the other side of the room or mouth breathing.

Perfume is a really hard thing to judge.  One friend of mine disliked Coco by Chanel with such ferocity that she insisted we ate outside when I wore it. At least she was honest.  We all agreed that it is becoming increasingly hard for us to find genuinely alluring and distinctive womens fragrances these days. Most perfumes are so synthetic that the top notes resemble air freshener.  Alegrya mentioned her  love of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab oils.

How can you resist a perfume company that uses words like indolent and judicial in relation to its scents? These days I check with Violet Lily (who blogs about fragrance and is obsessed with scent) before I buy anything new in the smell department. Her review of Alchemy Lab oils is posted here

Topic 3 – What Lies Beneath the Burqua

Kristen (who has in-laws from Kuwait) discussed how fond Arabic women are of rare scented oils. This lead us inevitably to the burqua and what Muslim women wear underneath.  As a child I used to be similarly obsessed with what nuns wore under their habits and whether or not their heads were shaved. It is a bit of a shame that fewer nuns dress in the traditional habits these day. In plain clothes, nuns aren’t quite as formidable as they were when I was at school.

I have long advocated allowed people to dress to express themselves and if that involves bringing attention to their religious beliefs, so be it.

According to popular cliches (and the new Sex & the City Movie) were you to disrobe a niqabi clad woman  you would find her wearing exquisite clothes and shoes, perfectly manicured nails, beautiful jewellery and yes – elegant lingerie.  Recently the German lingerie brand Liaison Dangereuse has attracted a lot of positive and negative publicity for its viral ad which carries the tagline “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.

The advert features a beautiful Muslim woman dressing in a nice bra and knickers, rolling on a pair of sheer stockings, slipping into a high heeled pumps and then donning the niqab with a theatrical flourish.

Without going into the politics of male objectification of women the advert works for me precisely because it blatantly uses our cliches against us.  The most interesting question that the advert raises is – is this woman dressing for herself or for someone else? The point of view is that of the woman in question – we are voyeurs and that is how we will remain. We want to know who she is, where she is going, what she is going to do. Arguably the advert draws us in with its narrative.  That is, in my view, engagement rather than objectification. Personally I find the advert for Budget “Boojay” Direct Car Insurance on Australian television and the cultural stereotypes therein are much more offensive to women.

Have a look here and judge for yourself.

Our discussion, it transpired, was prescient in that Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has since  labelled the burqa ”un-Australian” and called for a ban based on his belief that it signals Muslim women’s oppression. Last time we looked at you Mr Bernardi, you were neither female nor Muslim. So back off. Fashion censorship is something that I will always oppose. If you want to wear hot pants and gold tassled cowboy boots, go for it. If you have a penchant for head to toe pink chiffon (as a friend of mine used to) and it makes you feel good, wear it with applomb. That said, I am currently trying to get the Minx to wear some clothes, any clothes in public so the well of my magnamity runs deep these days.

Topic 4: Boots – How Long are too Long?

A restaurant full of people will, we found, react strangely and slightly defensively to three women wearing OTK (over the knee) boots having their pictures taken.  Strictly speaking my boots weren’t OTK until I unrolled them.

Shoobiz Pinét Brown Leather Boots

As Cathie suggested perhaps we attracted attention because we looked “stylish & vaguely terrifying, like a dominatrix army on manoeuvres“? Or perhaps it was because we had already outstayed our welcome by talking  loudly the aforesaid topics.

This lead us deep into hitherto uncharted boot discussion territory.  What is the appeal (if any) of the high boot?

Damana (far left) has had men following her up and down in the elevators of her building just to stare silently at her boots. My boots (centre) which are actually quite a demure height for me nearly caused a traffic collision when the driver of a white panel van shouted something incomprehensible at me on the way to lunch. Cathie’s boots (right) ensured that our 10 year old (extremely cute waiter) hovered around our end of the table for the whole meal with the bottle of champagne.

Such was the collective boot impact that further boot research was conducted (with the help of Cathie and some other ladies and gentlemen). The results will be blogged about later this week.

Anyway, and meantime, here we all are and if we put you off your lunch, I do apologise. Next time I shall bring the Minx along to eat off the floor as a diversion.

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We also talked about blogging. To this end I highly recommend that you check out the Geek Ladies’ writing yourselves:

GEEK DIVA: Geek Girls do it better

Tropical Snowflake

MANA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Mental Meanderings

A Cat In A Tree

Also, if you have not year read Kristen’s excellent Miss Boots series for this blog here are  Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4

Guest Post – SHOES AND DANCING: ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE by Anne Galivan

Anne Galivan (aka @alivenkickin) is a fellow shoe lover but one who has much nicer feet than mine. Actually my husband’s feet are nicer than mine, if a bit bigger and slightly hairier but that is another story for another time.

Anne has four children aged 25, 22, 16, and 8. She is a writer, a blogger (Smart Girl Politics), owns and runs a business with her husband, is a part-time college student and, in her spare time (what’s that then?) loves to go to the beach and shop for shoes. Her passion is home-schooling which she has been doing for 20 years  now and has launched a new website Homeschooling 911 with resources to help those educating or interested in educating their children at home.

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I think it’s funny how men say they don’t get the whole “women and shoes” thing.  As if they get anything else about us!  But let’s go ahead and talk about it.  It’s really not all that complicated.  I need only point you to a few facts to make the whole “thing” clear.

First of all, we must take a look at and compare men’s and women’s feet.  I know parts of this will be unpleasant, but it is necessary.  So here it is: have you ever looked at a man’s feet?  I mean, seriously!  No offense intended to any men who might, by some strange chance, be reading this, but…those things are gross.  And do they ever even clip their toenails?  Well, I guess they do every now and then but when and where they do is another whole disgusting subject so I won’t even go there.

Women’s feet, on the other hand, are a thing of beauty.  Think about the care we give our feet: we loofah and pumice them, we moisturize them and paint our toenails all sorts of lovely colors.  Women’s feet are like a canvas and our shoes are the frames!


In this case, the frame is just as important as the canvas.  We treat the canvas with love and then we rock it with shoes!  And although men complain and gripe about “women and shoes” and how we have to have so many of them – the fact is, they love our shoes!  They love to see our feet all tricked-out in a lovely pair of heels or sandals – almost as much as they love their tricked-out cars and trucks and stereo systems (egads, how they do waste their money!)

Every pair of shoes has its place and its own loveliness as it performs the important task of framing the canvas.  Even a sweet little pair of running shoes has its place showing that we are keeping ourselves fit and trim, yet still curvy in all the right places.

Speaking of which, don’t our shoes curve in all the right places too?  The way a pair of heels supports our arch in such a loving and even tantalizing way.  My husband told me one time that the appeal of heels (for men) is the affect they have on the other parts of a woman’s body.  Who knew?

And sandals (and oh, I love my sandals!) speak of wonderful places to go: beaches, parks, picnics – all the places where we can go casual and expose a little more skin (think: strappy tank tops) to the sun and wind…and what man complains about that?!

Yes, there are times when our lovely canvasses must be shut up against the ravages of the weather…but then we have boots!  Western boots, biker boots, calf-high boots, ankle-length boots – all have their place and all have the amazing ability to express a mood, whether sassy or tough-but-sweet or sophisticated.  Yes, boots can downright kick ass!

Ellery Women's Boots from http://www.fashionreview.com.au

Bottom line is, when men complain about women and shoes it is in the same vein as complaining about their favorite sports team.  They don’t really mean it.  It’s just what men do. And we get it.  Really.  It’s a dance.  A lovely little waltzing thing we do as women and men when we pretend to disagree about something that we agree about only too well!  Shoes are simply a part of the dance…

"The Temptress" by Jack Vettriano http://www.jackvettriano.eu

Day 76 of the Shoe Challenge – Culture Crossing & Well Mannered Boots

Brazilio Knee High Boots

If you have ever had the misfortune to appear in court you will be familiar with the pounding of your heart, the dryness of your mouth, the roiling in your guts as you wait for your case to be called. A certain amount of adrenaline is  undoubtedly useful – it keeps the heart pumping blood round your body and your spine upright. The nervous energy probably expends a few calories too which is always handy.

After the first 30 minutes of being in court, your heart rate slows. After 60 minutes of being in court the immobilising fear fades to boredom.

There are, I have found, only so many times that you can read and re-write your own legal arguments so to get round my boredom I wear footwear that entertains me.These boots have nice crinkly textured leather and a lot of zips and studs which are entirely for decorative purposes but sort of work and are good fun to count. The pointed toes and high stilleto heels (with a little metal heel ring) are good for digging crop circles into carpets.  They keep me quiet and out of trouble.

If you want to get into a fight with an authority figure a courtroom is a great place to do so. For example, it is considered extremely  bad manners to talk on one’s mobile phone or even have your phone switched on in court. Judges take a dim view of people wearing iPods, eating, drinking, chatting to their neighbours, footering around on lap-tops, reading novels, filing their nails and so on.    For a non-lawyer the whole process is a bit, I imagine, like being a non-Catholic at Good Friday Passion Mass. There is a lot of bobbing up and done, indistinct muttering and occasional bits of unexpected verbal gore thrown in for good measure. Having been to more than my fair share of masses and court attendances in my life I have mastered the art of keeping busy quietly.

The useful thing about court etiquette of course is that it is fairly universal. The rules are pretty much the same in any court anywhere in the world and you know the parameters of politeness. This is not the case with social etiquette.

My son and I recently bought  a toy care. After the cashier had bagged our purchase I asked my son to thank her. “He doesn’t have to thank me” she said “I didn’t buy him the car“.

In the city when I still worked there, every mornng I chatted with and thanked the barista and the counter staff for my coffee. One morning the cafe manager mentioned that I was one of the very few people that actually said thank you.

Saying thank you is easy, so why don’t we do it?

Perhaps I am old-fashioned or perhaps Australians just do things a wee bit differently. In any culture crossing there are bound to be misunderstandings after all. In Scotland, for example, titles are still important and you are expected to address people you don’t know by using the Mr, Mrs, or Miss honorific, followed by their surname.  You only use first names and nicknames  when specifically invited to. When I arrived in Australia therefore I was horrified when people whom I barely knew referred to me by an abbrevetion of my first name.  My Scottish reticence stopped me from correcting them but it still felt like an assault on my personhood.

Social gatherings are always a bit of minefield. At one party in Sydney not long after I arrived a woman asked me where I was from. When I replied that I was Glaswegian she rolled her eyes and said “Oh well then that explains where you got your dreadful accent from“.  In Glasgow dear readers I would have verbally eviscerated her.  As I was new to Sydney and unsure whether or not this was Australian humour I simply raised an eyebrow and walked away from her. As is the case with most things in strange places and strange people it is best to err on the side of politeness.

Over the ten years that I have lived in Australia the minor cultural differences I have become used to. I now know when someone is being a bitch and how to deal with them accordingly. (Unlike the meat tray raffles which I will never get my head around.)

No doubt an Australian going to Scotland for the first time would be similarly flummoxed by odd Scottish behaviour such as the Loud Whisper (“who does she think she is?” if you skip someone in the supermarket queue being an example). Scottish people are a bit odd but if I was to pass on two getting-to-know-me  etiquette tips to Australians (or other nationalities) these would be:

1.  Think before you write something nasty about someone

Every time I see a verbal sword fight on a blog, on Twitter or on Facebook I walk away from the screen quietly. I won’t get involved not because I don’t care but because I don’t care for the aftermath of a stoush.

As some of you might already know, I am a media lawyer. During the time that I spent sitting around in courts on defamation matters I have spent a lot time thinking about words and how we use them – online and offline.  In particular I wonder whether people realise just how much we give away about ourselves with the words that we write. I don’t judge people by appearances. I do judge people by the tone and intention of the words that they use and the context in which they use them.

For the most part life would be a lot more  pleasant if we tried to get along and avoided giving our unsolicited opinions on other people’s characters.

If you decide to say something cruel, unwarranted or bitchy to or about someone for your own personal satisfaction I will think badly of you.  I won’t necessarily tell you of course, I am far too Scottish for that, but I won’t want to share anything with you thereafter.

2.  Don’t try to mimic my Scottish accent. Ever.

Unless you are a gifted actor or have Scottish parents you will stuff it up badly and insult me. If I am wearing stilettos I will hurt you with them. You have been warned.

Guest Post – A Lifetime in Red Shoes by Red. On Purpose.

Oh I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.
Red shoes, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

Lyrics from The Elvis Costello Home Page

There area a lot of red shoe devotees out there – some of them more angelic, some less so.

Pope Benedict XVI is rather partial to red shoes. His Holiness does not, however, wear Prada though (as some reports suggested) but the traditional Papal shoes made for him by  Novara cobbler Adriano Stefanelli.

Red shoes have always had a powerful symbolism but for most shoe devotees this is irrelevant – we are drawn by an invisible thread towards the rich colour and the sheer joy of seeing such warmth on our feet.

There are some shoe lovers who would (if they could) wear nothing but red footwear.

For Jodie McEwen aka Red. On Purpose the colour red is as instrinsic to her life as her love of footwear.  Her wonderful blog is here. She is regular contributor to various Australian parenting publications including Web Child, Essential Baby and Sunny Days Magazine.

She is not on Twitter yet folks so nudzh her here to join up so that we can nudzh her over there.

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You know you have a shoe fixation when all your birthday cards have shoes on them. Your coffee mug, key ring, compact and stationary are all stamped with delicious little images of stunning footwear that you carry around and look at from time to time. It was clear to me on attending one particular open house that this was indeed the house we were supposed to buy. It had a wine glass charm clipped to the pantry door, and on it was a tiny red shoe. And yes, we did buy the house.

Shoes happen to be my chosen poison.  Amongst all the responsible, maternal, wifely and somewhat wobbly bits, deep down (well, just below the surface is probably more accurate) there is a shoe princess trying desperately to get out.  That little wanton part of me says ‘Stuff it. I know kitten-heeled, pointy toed knee-high boots are not really practical for the school run, but damn it, I’m going to wear them anyway because I like them.’ Trying to balance what I like against what I need is one of the shoes challenges I continue to face.

I’m blaming this shoe ‘thing’ on my genes. The responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of my cherished saintly mother, as far as I’m concerned. When I look back over my life, I often remember it by the shoes I was wearing at the time. So perhaps a retrospective will help clear my vision, allow me not to meet someone new, look at their shoes and make a snap judgement about them.

It starts here. The seed of my love of beautiful shoes, with red being my especial favourites. What hope did I have when this is the bench mark my mother set for me when I was all of twelve months old?

Red Clarks baby shoes pic - size 3.5 E- ie tiny

I learned to walk in those little beauties, and haven’t looked back since. From the shoes, you understand. Not necessarily the walking business, which can be rather tiresome at times. Yawn…

They are hardly even scuffed, which is almost miraculous for first walkers. What is also incredible is the fact that my Mum kept them for 20 years, and gave them back when I was expecting my first baby. And yes, I did try to force my baby’s chubby feet into them, but my offspring have considerably larger hoofs than I did as a toddler, so instead, they sit on my desk at work where I can gaze at them at will.

As a three year old, my lofty ambition on life was to be a bride. Or Princess Diana, at a pinch. It was the 80’s, you see. In my formative years, I would force my younger brother to dress up in mum’s old dresses and act the part of the bridesmaid, while I pranced about in lacy negligees, a net cloth over my head and of course, perilously high heels. My preferred weapon of choice was these splendiferous snakeskin creations.

Red snakeskin wooden platform clodhoppers

Mum was always petrified I would break my neck in the five inch wooden platforms, but I didn’t, and I don’t even recall a bad stumble. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for a certain Ms Campbell. Maybe she should have put in the hard yards in her preschool years like I did.

Meandering through the landscape of my shoe cupboard, there is a gap from the early 80’s through to the late 90’s. This could be blamed partly of the wasteland that was fashion during that era, and also on the fact that I lived at home with my parents and four others siblings and there simply wasn’t space to keep all the footwear I accumulated through those years. However, disregarding the Dunlop Volleys, Apple Pies and awful white synthetic court shoes that I probably wore, time marched quickly on. Thankfully. I grew up, finished school and set off to the motherland like any good little Aussie to work for a year in the UK. Scotland, actually. Just in case you couldn’t guess.

Tartan Docs

I wore my Docs to ceilidhs and danced like a dervish until the wee hours of the morning, stripping the willows and doing gay Gordons.  My Scottish friends and hosts were often touched that ‘the little Aussie lassie’ wore some crazy red tartan boots.

It was during my time in the UK that I met Him. Mr Smitten. So we got together, came home, got married and started a family. Just like that.

Due to pregnancy hormones, my feet grew a size when I was carrying my first baby and they never went back. It was a sad day, until I realised the silver lining in the cloud. It meant I would need to buy more shoes. Lots more shoes, as none of my old ones fit any more. Sadly, my super Scottish tartan Docs that I bought for just 5 pounds had to be relinquished. They made their way to ebay, where I sold them to a girl who promised to appreciate them for what they were.

As a new Mum there was very little glamour in the shoe department, in fact, very little glamour in any department at all for a while. Shoes became something that were functional and had to encase my somewhat puffy feet. The only things that managed the task were those stretchy black elastic-y flats that were everywhere in the early part of the millennium, and I’m happy to have closed that chapter of my existence. See, no photo of them. Moving swiftly onward…

As wife to one and mum to three, our days settled into a rhythm (most of the time, anyway) and I started to enjoy the life that I had. I came to accept the fact that I was physically incapable of pushing a pram in heels and that chasing children around the park or the beach would require flatter footwear. That’s ok. I can work with flat, I just can’t work with boring.

So I found red joggers, gorgeous red Django and Juliette square-toed strappy thongs that even made my wide feet look good, cute ballet flats, Mary Janes with newspaper print, red gladiator sandals and all manner of quirky shoes. My clothing was fairly practical, but my shoes were my statement. I was happy in my season of mothering young children, and didn’t lament the fact that I didn’t own any gorgeous high heels to make me feel like an Amazon anymore.

And then, just up over the cusp of that hill in the distance, loomed something rather big. I was going to turn 30. I knew what I wanted to do. A fancy 1920’s-1930’s flapper party, with amazing food, live music, great outfits and of course, the perfect pair of shoes. I pored over sites on the net, found pictures of all the Halston dancing shoes of the era, drooled over said pictures, at times to the detriment of my keyboard, scrimped and saved and planned my 30th birthday party.

But what would I wear?

I found them 6 months before my birthday, and I knew I had to have them. The colour was perfect. The fit was stunning. The shapely toe and slim heel were to die for. I hoped I would get a lot of wear out of them. They were even on sale. So I took them home, and squirreled them away at the back of my cupboard not to be worn until the big night arrived.

Red Birthday Shoes

I showed my prized birthday shoes to a few friends, but they just didn’t understand. ‘What are you going to wear?’ they asked. I pointed to the shoes. ‘But what else? What about your dress?!?!’ I was nonchalant. ‘Oh, I’ll get that closer to the time.’

You’re supposed to buy the shoes to match the dress!’ they all cried in a mass of worried indignation, like I’d broken some kind of fashion commandment. What kind of logic is that, anyway? I’d bought the important part of my outfit, and would build my look around my shoes. I eventually found a lovely dress, and it worked really well with my little red beauties. It was a fabulous party and I danced all night in my heels, truly the lady in red.

These days, buying lush, high-heeled or glamorous shoes is a fanciful penchant that I’m able to indulge in fits and starts. The passion and the interest is always there, the means to satisfy it waxes and wanes somewhat. And I find that, finally, that’s ok with me. If I could have every pair of shoes that I ever thought briefly in passing that I may like to own, I wouldn’t appreciate them. Discovering, admiring, hankering for a pair of shoes makes them more valuable in the end, because there is a story to having them eventually join your collection. I am very fond of my shoes. You might even say I love them. I wear them all and I will even admit a certain amount of enjoyment is derived from polishing them.

I can now say that I am (mostly) at peace with who I am, both on the outside and on the inside. My shoes help to express a bit about who I am, but I’m not defined by them any more. So bring the flatties, bring the kitten-heels, bring knee high boots, jewel-encrusted Roger Vivier pumps and comfy bright thongs. In the shoe-cupboard of my life there is a place for them all.

PS- These are the ones I currently have my eye on, even though I know I wouldn’t really get to wear them much.

Rajani Heels with Frill