Day 86 of the Shoe Challenge – If penguins wore shoes…

…would they look like these?

Handpainted vintage shoes by MOLAIRE Cécile Pagès

or these

Black & white Dr Martens Brogues

or these


Penguin Shoes Photo Credit: The National Geographic Magazine

My husband has collected penguins for many years. This is a small representative sample. There are many, many more.

A peck of penguins

He shared a house with someone in the armed forces who knew people who had been stationed in the Falklands.  To escape from active duty in the Falklands  soldiers looked for ways to get a psychiatric assesessment that they were not fit for active service. The way to do this was  not  emulate the TV/CD  tendencies of

Corporal Maxwell Q Klinger  in M*A*S*H but to visit the penguins.

To get down to the penguin beaches, soldiers had to walk slowly and deliberately across a landmine infested field. When stopped and asked why they were doing so they were to reply “I am going to speak to the birds“.

Ever since that time, my husband has had a soft spot for penguins.  There are penguins in various parts of our house. Here are a few that I could easily find in and around our kitchen.

There are a few more.  One he has even named ‘M—-‘ after me.

We went to Edinburgh Zoo together once and brought M—- with us.  My husband spent quite  a lot of time introducing her to the penguins. Penguins are a fairly inscrutable bunch. They don’t say much, smell quite strongly of fish and every so often flick faeces at each other and at zoo visitors.  Such was M—-‘s fate on this particular day.  If there is a penguin version of anthropomorphising, it doesn’t extend to stuffed penguins.

Photo Credit: Edinburgh Zoo

It is fair to say that at one point in time my husband had a collection of penguins that rivalled my shoe collection. Now that we have children, both our collections are raided regularly.  Both my children have a penchant for high heeled leather boots.

Since it took me until I was nearly 18 before I allowed myself to be talked into wearing a pair of high heels (thanks Dad), I take this as a very encouraging sign. The Noisy Boy in particular is rather fond of my heeled boots. I think that he sees himself emulating is hero Captain Jack Sparrow while wearing them.  Maybe one day, ten or twenty years from now he’ll come across a similar pair of boots which will gave him a stab of swashbuckling recognition.





I had a similar stab of recognition when I saw these shoes




Elle Effe Black & White Sling Back Brogues

These are quite similar to the first pair of shoes that I ever bought.

There was a slight, very quiet and slightly nervous girl at school with me in Fifth Year.  Her name was Claire. At least I think it was because up until the day that I first noticed her shoes, we had never exchanged more than two or three words.  On a particular day, I saw a pair of black and white shoes flash past me in the school playground and decided to accost her.  I started shoe stalking early.

I love your shoes” I said.  She looked nervous.

Erm, thanks” she said, looking around for reinforcements.

Where did you get them?” I asked in that voice that you use to prevent cats from scarpering when you want to cut their claws.

Barratts” she said.  Then she scarpered.

Barratts probably still has a branch in Paisley High Street. The shoes looked a bit like these saddle shoes – just squint a bit and imagine that the white bits are black and vice versa.

I loved my black and white shoes and wore them constantly.  The remaining nuns teaching at school didn’t complain, but then why would they complain about habit emulating footwear?

The shoes cost £17.00 which was quite a lot of money at the time, particularly as the predominant material was a spongy polyurethane.  When it rained the moisture from the pavement found its way into the shoes and my feet frothed from the inside out. It would then take about 3 days for the shoes to dry out. Eventually I wore them out.  Since then I idly lust after two tone shoes.

On my current wish list are the following:


The Alexander McQueen black and white striped leather pump (photo credit: The Shoe Minx)



Brooke Stiletto Copyright Photo Credit: Cos K Collections

Cos K Collections  Handmade Brooke  4 inch stiletto heel (£170.00)

And last but not least – the Christian Louboutin Esoteri Platform Booties down from $899.00 to a mere $197.98 from the Onsale Christian Louboutin site .  I have no idea whether these are the Real Deal or not so I will defer to my Online  Shoe Guru and Louboutin authenticator, Erin over at Shoe Love and revert in due course.  [Note To Hosiery Lovers: Erin is currently rocking a pair of two tone black and white stockings from Transparenze from TJ Maxx of all places.]


Christian Louboutin Esotera Booties

It took me a while to figure out why I love black and white shoes so much.  My husband thought it might have been something to do with Alan Parker’s film Bugsy Malone where a few of the leads were wearing spats.  I know that this cannot possibly have been the case because Jodie Foster irritated me for many years to the extent that I literally couldn’t watch any film that she was in.   The actress Barbara Flynn (The Beiderbecke Trilogy, Cracker) has the same effect on me.

And then suddenly it hit me –  black and white was pretty much the colour combination of the early Eighties particularly if you grew up listening to The Selecter, Madness, the Specials and Bad Manners.

So that explains my two tone shoe obsession.



Can you remember the first pair of shoes that you ever chose/bought for yourself? Can you remember why?

C’mon, don’t be shy – you can tell me and the rest of the Internet.


This post is dedicated to Kissability/Kathleen Joy – poetess and penguin lover. I wore these for her and she laughed.

Guest Shoes Post by Lewis’ Humans

The first time I encountered Lewis, he was in an airport.

He was born in Seattle and had to take the plane to come and live with us. A call from the airport to say “we’re on our way” was completely dominated by this tiny kitten’s frantic mews, desperately wondering what was happening to him. He meowed constantly during the two-hour flight. Even now, if he travels by car, even though he’s allowed to wander round freely, he still meows constantly and piteously.

Prada Patent Leather Platform Peeptoe Slingbacks

His full name is Lewis Moebius Pussy-Cat. The reason will have to wait for another time. He’s big, as cats go, though not fat, and extremely fluffy. He was chosen as a ferocious male who would attack our squirrel problem at its roots. In reality, though, he gets on very well with the squirrels, asking solicitously about their families and their nut stocks. Despite the complete failure viewed from a mission perspective, we love him dearly.

We haven’t had the heart to ask him to fly anywhere since, and so he has never been to London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. It’s a pity, because T5 is really a great success. Once they got past the problem of sending all arriving baggage to Milan – an easy mistake to make – it has worked efficiently and, as airports go, is quite a pleasant place. In truth, it’s really a shopping mall that happens to have the odd flight arriving and departing. The concept has been around for a while – there’s a department store in Asakusa, Tokyo that contains a main-line railway station. On the third floor.

Strangely, the airport designers had been watching too many movies about the jet-set, rather than looking at the actual passengers. They filled the terminal with shops for millionaires – Hermes, Dior, Bulgari, Gucci, Caviar House – and not shops for the great masses who travel packed twelve across in the back of the plane. Real jet-setters fly from a tin shed on the south side of the airport, which is the terminal for private jets. If they absolutely must mix with the hoi polloi, they travel first class and are filtered off into their own exclusive lounge immediately after spending two hours battling with Heathrow’s appalling security system.

So the super-luxury shops are indeed slowly disappearing, and the ones that remain seem pretty empty. Wandering through the terminal one Christmas, connecting between San Francisco and Paris, I paused outside the – completely empty – Prada shop, and saw this beautiful pair of high-heel, peep-toe slingbacks. Any pair of high heels gets my attention. There’s something especially delicious about peep-toes, those red-painted toenails peeping out tantalisingly. And slingbacks also have a teasing, now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t quality. Even seen in the window, these shoes just radiated quality and sexiness. I imagined my love wearing them, elegant as always in these beautiful creations. I took a picture, gawped at them for as long as I dared, and went on my way, wondering whether she would like them as much as I did.

A week or so later, we made the reverse journey, travelling together this time. I pointed out the shoes as we walked past the Prada store. Little encouragement was required. A few minutes later, and considerably poorer, we left, proud possessors of our first pair of Prada shoes.

As always when we travel together, we had to make some arrangements for Lewis. When he was a brand new pussy cat, we had two friends who were happy to alternate as his holiday homes. We’d put him in the car and he’d meow continuously until we got there. But he’s so cute that he sowed the seeds of his own downfall. Every time they saw Lewis, they’d say, “We must get a cat of our own“. And so of course, eventually, they did. The social life of cats is a very strange thing, and it’s always a bit risky to force them to be together. So no more holiday homes for Lewis. Now, we have a neighbour come by to feed him.

But cats are social animals, in their own way. Lewis badly misses his female human when she travels. Left on his own at home for an extended period, he gets lonely and depressed. So it’s not surprising that he should make some feline friends. We kept seeing the same grey cat hanging round in the garden. Then we saw him in the house, which coincided with alarming reductions of the level of catfood in the bowl. At a neighbourhood party we ran into his humans, who live a few doors down the street, and heard the explanation. His name is Maui, or to give him his full name Maui Wauie (a particularly excellent variety of marijuana, in case any of you are as naive as we were). Don’t ask. Anyway, Maui has a feline cohabitee, who is overweight. On the vet’s advice, his humans put both of them on reduced calorie catfood. No doubt Maui was grumbling to Lewis one day as they sat admiring the squirrels. Lewis, being a kindly cat, said “But why ever don’t you come round to my place? I have absolutely delicious catfood, and I’m sure my humans won’t mind.”

"the patent leather has an extraordinary depth"

The Prada shoes are even better in reality than in the shop window. They are made from a patent leather that has extraordinary depth to it, sensual, rich and luscious both to look at and to feel. The shape is exquisite, the way it effortlessly moulds my love’s foot, adding pooise to her entire leg. Everything about these shoes is just perfect – and very sexy. Just as with a bottle of first-growth Bordeaux, you wonder whether the extortionate price can possibly be worth it – until you try. Then you know.

Just perfect - and very sexy

Once you get a couple of friends together with a good meal, it turns into a party. Everybody wants to join in. In the small hours, when the humans are supposed to be sleeping, the raccoon comes into the house. He knows how to push open the pantry door, how to nibble through unopened bags of catfood. One night, sleeping badly, I first saw Maui slink past my armchair.

Then, visiting the kitchen, I saw the raccoon waiting outside for this pesky human to get off to bed.

But three is an awkward number. For one thing, you can’t play a decent game of cards. We think the skunk joins in too. Just once, we caught the skunk lingering outside the back door. Not all skunks stink – this one didn’t – and if you can overlook their propensity to spray you with persistent and foul-smelling gunk, they’re quite cute. I’m sure that one night we’ll find the four of them, huddled round a bowl of catfood, cards in paw, playing bridge or maybe poker.

The shoes are so gorgeous that, with one exception, they have never been worn outdoors. It would just be such a shame to risk damaging them. Their one outing was to a family wedding a few months ago – that was such a special occasion that it seemed to deserve them. Most of the time they spend on display, as much a work of art as the Japanese prints they share the space with.

Expensive, but worth every penny.


The author, his lovely wife and Lewis Moebius Pussycat all reside reasonably close to San Francisco.  It is fair to say that they all love beautiful shoes.

Day 85 of the Shoe Challenge – Black & White? When can we fade to grey?


Zoe Wittner Black & White "Bullet" Platform Pumps


It’s 5.00 pm ish on a Saturday afternoon in Sydney and 7.30 am in Glasgow.

Or so Sarah tells me when she phones. She hasn’t been been to bed yet and has been up listening to music, posting YouTube videos on her Facebook wall and feeling a bit nostalgic.

We have a  running joke that she always calls at 3.00 am. “I’m knackered” she says.

So am I” I say.

Lack of sleep can be due to so many things. In my case,  the usual suspect is the Minx who has unilaterally given up her daytime nap with the repercussion that she wakes up at 11 pm every night and wails piteously before zombie walking into the living room and clambering on my husband. In Sarah’s case it is because she has a head buzzing full of song ideas and business ideas. We met when we were both teaching in the same dull grey Sighthill building a long, LONG time ago.

Sarah is exactly one day older than me, single with no children and tells me quite justifiably that I should count my children as blessings. She has an immaculate penthouse flat in Glasgow with 180 degree views of the Clyde and no child mess. I am envious.

Have you heard this?” she asks and repeatedly hits the volume button on her computer singing along in that easy, natural singing voice of hers to something light and poppy – Empire of the Sun – Walking on a Dream.

I notice from her Facebook photos that Sarah’s hair has not even the slightest hint of grey. In many ways she looks younger than she did ten years ago. Her gran had dark brown hair with no evidence of silver into her nineties.   This has always intrigued me since I have been covering my white hair since I was 17 years old.

There was one period of time (when I worked for Bastard & Ratshit WS) when I didn’t colour my hair. But then at that point in my life I was so stressed and discombobulated at work, I used to drink a litre of red wine just to get to sleep at night.  One of the partners there told me that my grey hair was distinguished and gave me gravitas. I was 26 years old.

You may have noticed that going silver has become a bit of a mark of distinction among twenty something celebrities these days.

Pixie Geldof has elfin feautures and her dyed grey hair makes her look a bit like an Beardsley-esque satyr.

Lady Gaga recently featured on the September 2010 cover of Vanity Fair magazine with a granny lavender rinse

There’s a lot of it about.

The only thing that I should mention is that those who are flaunting the grey hair are in their twenties. Like Halle Berry as Storm in the X Men

or Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada

Unfortunately these grey locks are entirely for Hollywood show.

The real world is not so accepting of grey hair. I know – I have been surfing the edge between black and white for 20 years. “When” I ask myself and my husband frequently “can I just get old and forget about the hair colouring?

The answer would seem to be – NEVER.

It seems grotesquely unfair that men can become silver foxes and yet women must continue to perpetuate an ever more undignified image of youth and lack of grey.

White hair on a young person is unusual and eye catching but has the effect of enhancing that person’s youth.  Funnily enough, when I asked hairdressers about going white in my twenties they all shook their heads. Now I am faced with expensive and timeconsuming processes to slowly bring out the grey in a subtle but not blatantly unrealistic fashion.  This is insane, I think every so often, my mother was silver haired in her forties, why am I doing this to myself?

The answer is of course, once you get into your forties and beyond the way of grey becomes harder to navigate. If you are an older gentleman with a good head of thick steel grey to white hair it is easy. You, my friend, are a silver fox. There is even a blog Silver Feast dedicated to your trichological charms.

There is some argument as to whether or not the term silver fox is male gender specific or gender neutral.  If you use Google to search ‘silver fox hair’ the first three persons depicted in the images are male, the third is Jamie Lee Curtis.



What’s not to love about Jamie Lee Curtis? I mean, I didn’t love her in Trading Places when the guy I was in love with then was sitting next ne to  waxing lyrical about her perfect breasts all through the film and for weeks afterwards



but that was his fault, not hers right?

After years of holding a bit of a grudge, I finally forgave her for freely, openly and laughingly admitted that the gravity defying arse that she displayed in the film Perfect



was not been the product of exercise alone.  As soon as she stopped getting liposuction and exercising excessively she started to look – normal.



As the UK Telegraph reported in 2002, she broke the unwritten unwritten Hollywood rule yesterday by saying that the movie industry’s nip-and-tuck culture of eternal youth did not work and insisted on having her photo taken in unflattering knickers, sports bra top and no make up.

She doesn’t look like a fembot anymore but is this a bad thing? Maybe we just are not that accepting of women getting old.  I can’t for the life of me determine why this is.

Kristen McMenanamy still looks as stunning as ever, in her slightly off the wall way, with silver hair.

And I have never had any trouble seeing Debbie Harry transition from punk sex goddess

to scary headmistress of a small girl’s private school

(The cheekbones could still etch glass after all, so surely the hair colour is irrelevant?)

It seems to me that if you are a female star you have two choices – go down the character route in which case it is irrelevant if you get older, greyer and larger or fight the ghost of christmas future to the death every day in the gym and every fortnight in the hairdressers. Which leaves the rest of us non-star people in a bit of a bind really doesn’t it?


Zoe Wittner - Black & White Bullet Pumps


So here is my entirely selfish question. Should I:

(a) go slowly and surely more blonde with an ever escalating number of highlights;

(b) continue to dye it successively lighter shades; or

(c)  go the expensive weaving multi coloured low lights through my silvery strands route?

When dear reader, can I dare to get old?

Guest Blog Post by Siouxsie Law – How Caveat Calcei Saved My Lily Darlings



Lily Darlings by Fluevog - image courtesy of


I love Fluevog shoes.  Over the years, I have acquired a pretty large collection of Mr. John Fluevog’s shoes.  When I travel, if the city has a Fluevog store, I make sure to put a stop on my itinerary.   Chicago and  NY are my favorite Fluevog stops.

Why are Fluevogs so awesome?  They are funky, comfortable, sexy, and versatile.   Lots of people share my love of Fluevogs.  In fact, five other posts on Caveat Calcei mention these shoes.  Even Corporette blogged about them.  My favorite are my pair of Lily Darlings that have a rare and impossible-to-find purple trim.  I have worn them to weddings, court, funerals (sorry about that Uncle Dick (seriously, that was his name, g-d rest his soul)), and clubs.  I have worn them EVERYWHERE.


Siouxsie Law's Lily Darlings


So I was crushed when I thought I had somehow lost them.  And after two years, I totally gave up on ever finding them.   Until Caveat Calcei blogged about losing a Fluevog and then successfully recovering it.  I reached out to Caveat Calcei and she walked me though how to find shoes that have mysteriously disappeared.  She is the Miss Marple of shoe mysteries.  That is, if Miss Marple was young, sexy, and had a weakness for pretty shoes.

Caveat Calcei advised that I think about where I had last been with the shoes.   So I proceeded to interrogate several family members with whom I had visited and two hotels in which I had stayed.   Although I alienated some relatives in the process and am now probably banned from The James Hotel, it worked.  I discovered that I had not lost them during any travels.  Phew.

Next, Caveat Calcei suggested that I think about who had been in my house.  She noted that  “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”  Or something like that.  And she suggested that a house guest may have left with my Lily Darlings.   “Excellent, I cried.”  “Elementary,” said she.

So I thought about it, and sure enough during the time frame, I had one weirdo house guest.   He was my new prime suspect.  So I confronted him on his facebook wall.  I posted:  “I know you took my shoes, you SOB.”

As it happens, he didn’t.  Several weeks later I found the shoes in one of my closets.

The moral of this story is that Caveat Calcei is a miracle worker.  Or maybe it is that if you don’t lose your Fluevogs, they will last forever, especially with the aid of a cobbler.   Plus, your cobbler will think you have the coolest shoes.  I’m talking eyes-popping-out-of-the-cobbler’s-head cool.  It is worth buying a pair for this reaction alone.


CeCe Boots by Fluevog


I forgot to say this earlier, but Fluevogs are expensive.  Don’t let this stop you.  You really can wear them for a looooong time.  Plus, I’ve had really good luck buying them used.  Either way, you should go out and get a pair for yourself.  New or vintage.  It does not matter.

Just don’t misplace them.

Good luck.


About the Author:

The guest blogger is the author of Siouxsie Law,  simply the best legal blog there has ever been.  She is a litigator and also a goth.  She blogs about stuff that is spooky and/or legal, and anything else that she feels like writing about.

A Shoe Annal by The Minx (age 3)

She who is small and bites is three years old today.  The talking is coming on well. The depositing of faeces in the toilet is also going well despite problems earlier in the year.  The shoe situation has been hit or miss.

The difference a year makes

About this time last year, the Minx was rather partial to dresses and matching shoes.  In fact more often that not she would insist on wearing a dress, even to play outside in puddles.  Puddles normally provide a good reason to wear welly boots. In my daughter’s case welly boots are for wimps, unless of course the wellies are worn inside and on the furniture.

You have to give her credit for accessorising with her duvet cover.  Incidentally, does anyone else out there have weans that spend hours every day camping under a quilt on the sofa?

For some strange reason we ended up with two pairs of identical white leather sandals which were the only things that the Minx would wear in the winter. Admittedly, it doesn’t get that cold in Sydney in wintertime (June to August) but that didn’t stop just about every granny in the St George office telling us off for letting my daughter get chilblains.

The Ubiquitous White Sandals

Since I have not learned to say ‘thank you for your input but it is as welcome as a fart in a space suit‘ in more than one language, I usually do a tight smile that involves clamping my back teeth together.  Also, I never make eye contact with people when I am out and about with my children.  If I didn’t see you glaring at me, it didn’t happen.

The thing is that you can spend your life trying to make your children wear weather appropriate clothing or you can get to work on time.  It’s a simple efficiency algorithm particularly when dealing with a child that has been pretending to be a dog for the last six months hanging out of car windows barking at the birds or eating out of pots or from the floor.

But there is the odd glimmer of light on a patent leather pump at the end of the tunnel. I can guarantee that the shoes that the Minx will wear are mine.

For example here she is wearing a pair of my oxford brogues shoe-boots:

and my Irregular Choice mules

In fact, I am beginning to suspect that she might have a bit of shoe rivalry going on with Kristen Obaid’s daughter who managed to walk elegantly in these 5 inch platform pumps first go.  The next day I caught the Minx attempting to strut down a flight of stairs in the same pumps.

A bit of female rivalry is a good thing because the longer she spends hanging out with her brother the further away from the feminine she floats.

At least she isn’t trying to pee standing up any more.

Happy birthday little miss Minx. I love you x