there was once an old lady who lived in a shoe
she had so many children she did not know what to do
then whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed
she gave them some broth without any bread
I believe that in the 1794 “Gammer Gurton’s Garland of Nursery Songs” the last line was:
she whipped all their bums and sent them to bed
With red-bummed wailing children now safely abed she could get on with the things that mattered in life, she went out to downtown to Wherever’s Ville to buy some more shoes or, at least, to have a wee peek at them in big shiny shop windows. It always put a spring in her heels to think about whipping bums red and then going out to buy new shoes for, lets say, a little dessert. What is it about shoes and who needs bread anyway?
Yesterday, I dropped into a shoe shop in Glasgow to look at some fine shoes, not quite bespoke, like Prince Charlie’s shoes are, but expensive, nonetheless, and Italian. They cost three hundred pounds. A more reasonably priced, but nice looking pair of shoes, cost one hundred and fifty pounds. I pondered on the reason that I might not part with either of these sums for a pair of shoes and on the obverse side of that coin wondered why women would not hesitate for a minute to part with such a sum if a pair of shoes consumed them with delight. If I was pushed to a decision making point, I would not hesitate to part with a big cash outlay for a pair of shoes which were made just for my differently sized feet alone and, of course, were stylish to ‘boot’. Excuse the last word please. Anyway,
What is an architect doing talking about shoes? A revisit to my opening gambit will explain all.
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe”.
Is it possible to design a shoe in which one old lady, let alone one with “so many children”, could live? A cursory examination of the work of the architect Bruce Goff, an Okie, might indicate that such a thing is entirely possible. (check out the Bavinger house or the Japanese pavilion in Los Angeles).
What is it about architects that they feel the necessity to hallmark their careers with an “odd” building or two? Sometimes, the odd looking buildings are their careers. The fashionable term is ICONIC buildings. Like any expensively made and exquisite to look at shoe, such structures leak, fall apart, have a life of their own but people flock to see them or shakily shoogle about on them as in the specific case of shoes.
Think Bilbao, think Guggenheim.
Visitors to the “goog” will accommodate its idiosyncracies, gasp with spurious delight and take endless wee photos with their cell-phones to send the ‘folks back home’. Trendy gals will squeeze their feet into shoes designed for people with no feet and walk as if their buttocks were glued together to help alleviate the wincing painful torture.
Think John Wayne, who always walked as if he had left the toilet lid inside his pants.
I have about ten pairs of shoes some of which have never walked beyond the box they came in. I have a deeply uncluttered detestation of brown shoes with the exception of ox-blood coloured penny loafers. So, my shoes are all black but, elegant. Brown shoes are the death-knell of fashion in the same way that green shirts, relentlessly awful diagonal striped matching ties and brown suits are for the egregiously aesthetically deprived.
I watch with amazed bewilderment, women wandering around men’s shops with a suit and a shirt in their arms checking out hideous ties against the gruesome twosome and think to myself, Good God! It gets even worse when they check out underwear as well. The ultimate in male castration. Sometimes there are wee guys, with a shadowing wife, trying out a suit jacket with sleeves hanging down three inches below their wrist and she, the matron of high fashion, telling them that they look great. Finally, getting them to button all three buttons on a three button jacket with the dreadful tie/shirt concoction. The brown decades, indeed. I think Coco, no! not Chanel, the other variety.
Shoes are great and stylish additions to any man’s wardrobe. the more you have the better. Perhaps one day an architectural story will follow.