Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Food For Thought: Having A "No Shoe" Home Rule

Some great advice about having a shoe-free home. British people need more of this lady's assertive attitude.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kate Gosselin

Apparently the American television personality Kate Gosselin has a no-shoes rule. She requires this of the camera crew filiming the reality show about her lifestyle, Jon & Kate Plus 8:

Kate Gosselin’s Supposedly ‘Strict’ Rules For Her Show’s Crew Are Actually Very Reasonable

Friday, August 01, 2014

Bucking the Trend in Sheffield

More on the Turtle Mat survey:

The Star: Sheffield named one of most house proud cities

According to a study of domestic standards, 71 per cent of the city’s residents remove their shoes in their own home, and more than half would ask guests to do so too.

I suppose northerners are more candid. If they want you to take your shoes off, they won't mince their words. Good for people in Sheffield.

The Turtle Mat Survey

Turtle Mat Blog: Turtle Mat 2014 Houseproud Survey

A survey by the doormat copany Turtle Map surveyed British towns to find out how likely British people were to remove their shoes and ask guests to remove their shoes. The results are a little unsurprising, with the South being the most houseproud in general. One interesting result though, was that while women were overall more likely than men to remove their shoes, men were more likely to ask guests to take their shoes off.

On the whole, it identified the British norm as I have described it here, that most British people take their shoes off in their own homes, but would not require guests to do the same. This contrasts with Sweden or Norway, where guests would be expected to remove their shoes and also with Spain and Italy, where most people keep their shoes on in their own homes. I suspect the results of a similar survey in America would show a sharp polarisation between people who keep their shoes on and people who require shoes off for guests, with less of the British comproise approach.

I'm not sure I like the tone of the way the results were presented, with the implied suggestion that asking for shoes off is impolite or unwelcoing. What is impolite or unwelcoming about asking people to do what they would do in their own homes anyway? I suspect a not-so hidden agenda; it's certainly in the interests of a doormat manufactuer for people to wear shoes indoors, then they will spend more money on expensive doorats.

What do they do in Worcester?

Those of you who followed this blog in the early days might be aware I used to live in Worcester. It seems like such a long time since those days. I found this:

Worcester: Welcome to Friendly Worcester

The study, by Turtle Mat, primarily examined nationwide attitudes to cleanliness, judged on the number of people who take their shoes off when in their own home and ask guests to do the same.

And in a quintessentially British trait the majority of people always take their shoes off when in their own homes, but a lot are too polite to ask guests to do the same.

This trend was true for Worcester with 85 percent of people saying they always remove their shoes in their own home but almost two thirds would not ask guests to follow suit.

This is such a typically British stance. Taking one's own shoes off, but not minding guests coming in with shoes on. I think I prefer bolshy Americans who insist on shoes off for everybody who steps past the door.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Well that's original New Retail store launces asking shoppers to take off their shoes at the door.


On Saturday July 19 at 9am in Albany’s Westfield Shopping Centre, the new look
Number One Shoes super-store will launch with a housewarming party inviting the public to take off their old shoes at the door and walk in barefoot to get a brand new pair, all for free.

Limited to the first 100 people through the doors, it’s a shoe store opening set to bring excitement to local Albany shoppers this Saturday.

Sounds a rather New Zealand sort of thing to do.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A New Rule for Natasha and Stan

A short story I wrote a while ago.

Natasha took a glance outside the window at her three children playing in the backyard. For once they looked like they were behaving themselves and not trying to kill each other. Natasha had been waiting all afternoon for the sounds of screaming and the cries of hurt children, but that noise had not yet come.

Relaxed, Natasha turned away from the window and sat down. She picked up a celebrity gossip magazine. The cover was splashed with the name Mishelle Beckfield, wife of the famous footballer, Wayne Beckfield.

Natasha adored Mishelle Beckfield. Like herself, Mishelle had grown up on a council estate in Bedfordshire. Mishelle had got lucky and dated a guy who turned out to be a brilliant footballer. She had got to enjoy that glorious WAG lifestyle, travelling the world, meeting film stars and living in massive houses. Natasha always loved to see what Mishelle was wearing and she scoured the shops for cheap immitations of her outfits.

Natasha loved Stan her husband, but she rather wished she had married a footballer and not a gardener like him. Stan was an alright bloke, but he enjoyed watching football, not playing it. He was not drop dead gorgeous or stylish like Wayne Beckfield was either.

She tried to imagine what it must be like, living in a villa in the south of France and not a tiny council house. Mishelle didn't have to spend all day shouting at her kids; she had a nanny to look after them.

Slipping out of her reverie, Natasha opened up the magazine and flicked to the feature on the famous WAG. The feature had a collection of photographs of a party on Mishelle's gigantic luxury yacht. Natasha noticed that all of the guests were barefoot. The text informed her that shoes were not allowed on board to protect the precious teak decks.

Thinking of wooden decks, Natasha glanced down at the new wooden floor that the council had installed a month ago. She had been delighted when the new floor had been put in, as the old carpets had been filthy and worn. She did notice that even this new floor had gotten a bit scratched. There was a particularly nasty looking dent that her friend Vicky had made the other day when she came in wearing killer heels. Natasha always liked to giggle at the way her friend tottered around so clumsily in them. Mishelle knew how to walk properly in heels.

Looking at the scratches on the floor, Natasha supposed that the shoe-ban on Mishelle's yacht made a lot of sense.

Although the house was small, Natasha loved it. It was modern and a huge improvement on some of the places she had lived before. She had seen an awful lot of squalor when she had been younger. The council flat she had lived in when she had her first baby had been particularly grotty.

She was living in a nice place. It might not be a villa in the south of France, but it was good. Why shouldn't she keep it that way? She had a family, why shouldn't they live in a nice environment?

Natasha slipped off her flip flops and hastily carried them to the front door. She also picked up a pair of trainers that Stan had discarded next to his favorite armchair. She placed those next to her flip flops.

Natasha heard the sound of blokes laughing and the door opening. Stan and his fat friend, Dave, had come back from the pub.

" Hi luv! We've come back to watch the Grand Prix," said Stan. "There's some crap film on at the pub. I brought Dave along too. Is there any beer in the fridge?"

Natasha had put a couple of cans of Stella in the fridge, but first things first.

She took a deep breath and made a stern face.

"Right guys, take your trainers off and leave 'em next to the door, please. We're going to have a new rule in here. Shoes off when you come in," said Natasha.

Stan's jaw dropped.

"What for?" spluttered Stan.

"This new floor the council put in; it's getting messed up already. It's time to start looking after it," explained Natasha.

"I have to take my shoes off every time I come in?" asked Stan.

"I spend ages cleaning this place, Stan. It's the least you can do," replied Natasha.

Dave did not seem to happy about the new rule.

"Do I have to take mine off?" Dave asked.

"Yes. You're shoes are probably as dirty as Stan's. All my friends are going to have to take their shoes off too," said Natasha.

"I dunno, luv..." mumbled Stan.

"Are you two worried about getting cold feet? Right bunch of girls the pair of you!" exclaimed Natasha.

Alright, alright, babe! I'll take my shoes off," said Stan as he fumbled with his trainers. Dave followed suit.

"Very good. When you're done you'll find some Stella in the fridge."

"Yes!" they both said gleefully.

Turning from the two men, Natasha heard her children coming in from the backdoor. With the blokes on board, now was the time to explain the new rule to the kids...

Monday, July 07, 2014

FashionTV Swimwear Models at Zepter Yachts Launch Party

Fashion TV shows a swimwear fashion parade at a yacht party in Monte Carlo.

It's funny to see the models all wearing killer heels, while the guests are all barefoot. You might have thought that with the models exhibiting swimming costumes that they could have dispensed with their shoes like the guests.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Running Total

I was out canvassing for the Conservative party again tonight. I came across another house with a 'Please take your shoes off' sign on their door. Disappointingly, the owner was not a Tory voter.

In my time canvassing in Stevenage, I have seen a total of three 'shoes-off' signs and one 'shoes-off' doormat.

Of course, the majority of people who answer the door are not wearing shoes inside.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Simply D Constructed- Hump Day Confessions #17: Take Off Your Shoes & Stay A While

Simply D Constructed- Hump Day Confessions #17: Take Off Your Shoes & Stay A While

'Am I stereotyping? Probably a little. But this is coming from an Asian who grew up taking her shoes off, as a visitor and as person living in her mom's house. (And eating a lot of rice, ha!) It's a hard habit to kick, but a good one to keep. I'd like to think that:
A) Taking your shoes off is a sign that you feel comfortable in someone's home. When they ask you to remove your shoes, it is a sign that they find comfort and trust your company well enough to invite you to stay. (my attempt at interpreting a philosophical purpose in the matter)
B) You don't want outside business on your floors. Isn't this just common sense?

Imagine you are at a public restroom. Then later on you come home and are traipsing all over your house. Enough said, book closed. Forget about it. Take your shoes off, and throw them away. (No - just kidding, that's wasting money and we are a bit frugal here.)'

Friday, May 30, 2014

As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards: Solve calceamentum de pedibus tuis

As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards: Solve calceamentum de pedibus tuis

Solve calceamentum de pedibus tuis: locus enim, in quo stas, terra sancta est.

We all know about Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3), and how God commanded him to take off his shoes since the place of divine revelation was holy ground. Last Good Friday, I took off my sandals (which I wear throughout the year outside the coldest months) for the veneration of the Cross. I ignored the rubric where it says that the priest puts his shoes back on, and continued up to the end of the ceremony in bare feet. It was quite a discovery, since I had fewer distractions than I often have during Mass and Office.

I also remember a visit to a Coptic church in England some years ago, where the priest asked me to take my shoes off, exactly as Muslims do when they enter their mosque. Walking around with bare feet is another experience of a place, an intimate communion with the ground and the place.

A post by Father Anthony Chadwick, a priest in the Anglican Catholic Church-Original Province, who was kind enough to mention this blog.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cavalli Yacht Party at 67th Cannes Film Festival

Roberto Cavalli's yacht parties are a big shoes-off event of the year. Last year, the bad weather meant that shoes were permitted on the precious decks of his yacht, but this year was back to normal, with all their guests discarding their shoes and stilettos (exept for the appallingly slovenly dressed Justin Bieber, who apparently kept his sneakers on).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interviewing Beyond Expectations (fiction)

A short story I wrote about two years ago.

I have never liked interviews. It is so tedious to find that after just one or two questions, the candidate turns out to be utterly unsuitable for the job. So often it is the worst candidates who are the most eager and enthusiastic for the job. It is so painful to have to turn some of them down.

I had interviewed two candidates already for my investment business. One of the women I interviewed was a graduate with absolutely zero experience and the other was a quite loathsome woman who smelled of cigarettes. I keep my personal office in my home and I could not bear the thought of that last woman turning up at my house five days a week.

The next lady was due to arrive at 2:00 PM. In two minutes time in fact.

I glanced at the name written in my diary. Ruth Teller. The name sounded familiar on my lips.

The doorbell rang.

I opened the door and was met with a woman of about 40 years of age. She had medium length dark hair and an attractive heart-shaped face.

She was a very elegant woman, dressed in a dark grey skirt and jacket and a pair of stylish high heeled shoes.

"Ruth Teller I presume?" I said. Where had I heard that name before?

"Yes, that's right," she said in a refined voice.

"I'm Grant Farrow. I'm really glad you could make it here today, Ruth. Do come in."

After she had stepped through the door, I glanced down at her stilettos and grimaced.

"Would you mind taking your shoes off, Ruth?"

Ruth looked a little surprised at the request, but obligingly slipped off the heels, before following after me, moving softly on her stocking feet.

The carpets in my house are very light. Although I have had the shoes-off rule for six years, I still feel slightly embarassed asking people to take their shoes off, especially if they are visiting on business purposes.

I showed her into my office and offered Ruth a seat.

Ruth Teller. I finally recognised the name. Was this the same Ruth I was thinking of?

"I have to ask, are you the author of the Vichy novels?" I realised I would be a little embarassed if it was indeed a different Ruth.

"Yes, I am," she said modestly.

Naturally, the author of such a great series of books would have to be an elegant and stylish lady like this.

"I never expected to be interviewing an accomplished author of historical fiction!" I exclaimed.

"I'm flattered. Though I wish my books were as famous as you suggest," said Ruth.

"They deserve to be. I'm amazed at the level of research you put into the Vichy books. You really brought the whole complexity of Vichy France to life, not only its politics, but how the ordinary people in France lived in the Second World War," I said.

"Thanks. It certainly took a lot of work," said Ruth. She seemed a little embarassed at my flattery.

I had always had an interest in the Second World War, but before reading Ruth's Vichy novels, I had not had an awful lot of knowledge about Vichy France. The books had opened up my eyes to a world of collaboration and resistance, ideology and intrigue as well as both brutality and heroism.

"Are you a professional historian?" I asked. It seemed surprising that somebody with such expertise would be seeking a job as a PA.

"No, I'm just an amateur," she replied. "Though I have recently taken up some part-time study for a history degree. It helps having a very understanding husband," she added with a laugh.

"I hope the study won't delay the fourth novel," I said.

Ruth laughed.

"Oh no, the fourth novel will be on its way."

"I can't wait, Ruth. Can I ask what led you to write about Vichy France?"

"My mother is French. It's part of my heritage. When I was younger, I spent quite a bit of time in France and found it things that very much shook my world. I found it so fascinating that I had to bring it to life."

"It was really interesting how you went beyond just Vichy France in the third book. You brought in the work of German spies in Vich France. I have always had an interest in the Third Reich, but I had no idea about all that rivalry between those two intelligence agencies, sorry I forgot the names... the SS agents and the ordinary military intelligence.." I said.

"The Abwehr and Himmler's Sicherheitsdienst," offered Ruth. "The reasearch for that part was very difficult because I don't know German."

"I'll tell you what I really love," I said, getting ever so enthusiastic. "It's the character of Vincent, the police inspector. He is such a balanced character, not a hero, but not a villain either. He's so torn between his hatred of Communism and his disgust at the Third Reich."

"In a way he embodies the conflicting attitudes of the Vichy authorities," said Ruth.

"Will he marry Louise in the fourth book?" I asked.

"I'll tell you if you give me the job," said Ruth with a smile.

I had completely forgotten about the interview, having got so caught up in my enthusiasm for Ruth's novels.

"Forgive me, I am letting my enthusiasm carry me away," I said.

I pulled out Ruth's curriculum vitae and studied it carefully.

"It looks like you have an awful lot of secretarial experience. Did you never want to write full time?" I asked.

"My books don't sell that well. And my husband never gives me enough spending money," said Ruth.

I laughed. I knew I couldn't possibly turn Ruth down.

"I think you have the skills for the job and I'd be proud to have such a brilliant author working for me. Are you alright to start next Monday?" I asked.

"Wonderful," said Ruth.

"As you will have gathered, I don't allow shoes to be worn in the house. You might want to buy some slippers to keep here. If you bring me a receipt on Monday, I'll give you the money," I said.

"I'll go slipper shopping tomorrow," said Ruth.

"Excellent. Now before you go.."

I rushed out of the room and came back with three paperback novels.

Ruth sighed and took out a pen to sign the books.

This was one interview that I had enjoyed.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sign still there

With the election coming up in May, I was out delivering leaflets for the Conservative party.

Last year I mentioned that while out canvassing I came across an house with a shoes-off sign. I was leafleting in the same area and they still have their sign up.