Written by Annie Caulfield


Glad Rags

In the latest of a series that sees Standard Issue writers celebrate the clothes that make them happy, Annie Caulfield resists the temptation to lick an old pair of lace-ups.

Annie Shoes 1

I would like to lick them. Soft leather shoes in Italian ice cream colours – what else can I do with them? The heels are about a foot higher than the lapdogs that trail behind the sort of women who would actually wear shoes like this and I fall off any heels higher than a sheet of tissue paper. So licking them to show my appreciation might be my only option.

As for gigantic platform soles…the NHS is overstretched; my constant appearances with broken ankles from shoe accidents would be socially irresponsible. But high heeled designer shoes are such beautiful objects that tempt us into some Cinderella dream that feminism has clearly done nothing to shake off.

Designer shoe stores are enchanted palaces sparkling with colours, sequins, embroidery, jewels, buttons and bows. I want to sweep all the shoes off the shelves and hug them and love them and whisper to them how beautiful they are. Maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to lick them: that would be weird, right?

But there was this pair of pistachio and mint stilettos I saw yesterday…

For a long time I felt none of these magical shoes could be for the splay footed, walk everywhere, galumphing likes of me. If I wore heels and platforms I would have to be carried everywhere in a sedan chair – an expensive way to get about, especially after I’ve just spent all that money on shoes.

Even the beautiful flat designer pumps, loafers and moccasins always seemed too narrow and too vulnerable to destruction for the likes of me. They’d be wrecked the minute I started trudging round in them, finding the puddles, melted tar or best way to let my feet expand and split the seams.

As a result too much of my life has been spent in hiking boots and trainers, yearning for something to make strangers exclaim: “Love your shoes!”

Then I found them.

They’re soft blue and white leather lace ups that don’t look like part of my old school uniform. They just twinkle at the ends of my legs and make me feel I might tap dance. They look chic, and a little bit French, yet I can walk for miles in them. Not only that: they can take rough treatment and still shine up nicely with a little bamboo oil and whatever other secret ingredient the clever manufacturer put in the cleaning fluid provided.

Perhaps they’re not shoes to wear with a ball gown but they don’t disgrace themselves in smart surroundings. Three years of wearing them (and wearing them) and nothing’s needed mending or replacing. So there they are: durable, cute and unusual – the perfect shoe for me.

I’ve never licked them but I don’t think true love needs that kind of slobbering. They know how I feel. Perhaps one day when they finally wear out I might kiss them goodbye. But let’s not even imagine such a tragedy.

Today my blue and white shoes are with me; I’m happy.

Sadly, Annie died in November, 2016. Please consider donating to the Macmillan tribute fund set up by her sister Jo Caulfield in Annie’s name. https://macmillan.tributefunds.com/annie-caulfield

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Written by Annie Caulfield

Annie Caulfield is a dramatist, travel writer and broadcaster. Originally from Northern Ireland, she lives in London or a Spanish cave. www.anniecaulfield.com