Tuesday, July 29, 2008



Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.

However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.

Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.

The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."

However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.

Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.

The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Human Behaviour

Ever notice how when people take their shoes off other people do the same?

At the cineam yesterday, the coupe sitting next to me took their shoes off while watching the film. I took off mine and I think later one of the friends I went with took off hers.

The next day at church I removed my flip flops and left them off during the service. The friend who sat down next to me also took off her sandals.

Us human beings do have a habit of copying each other.

I believe as more people adopt the practice of removing their shoes at the door and asking visitors to take their shoes off, more people will copy them. Quite a number of people in internet discussions have commented that after they adopted a shoes-off policy, their friends did the same.

Being considerate at the cinema

Yesterday, I watched Batman: Dark Knight at the cinema with some friends.

I had not realised how long it would be and ended up needing the toilet half-way through. It was very embarassing walking down the ailse in my noisy flip flops.

After going to the loo, I noticed a girl who also went to the toilet. She had taken off her shoes so as not to disturb anybody. This seemed a really considerate thing to do, so I took off mine when returning to my seat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I wrote a Knol!

Shoes off at the door?

I took advantage of Google's new Knol feature.

We are the makers of manners

My fellow blogger Wayne just left a great comment:

The reminds me of what I consider to be a terrible plague in America and that is the thinking that a consensus must be formed before one can act. IMO, good leadership and a good bold world-view on living would be to put up a sign that says no shoes allowed in house.... Go for it Matthew

This reminds me of a passage in Shakespeare's play Henry V. Henry V, the king of England is told after meeting his future bride, a French princess, that it is not the fashion for French maidens to kiss before they are married. He replies:

O Kate, nice customs curtsy to great kings. Dear
Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak
list of a country's fashion: we are the makers of
manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our
places stops the mouth of all find-faults; as I will
do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your
country in denying me a kiss: therefore, patiently
and yielding.

So what about the so-called 'etiquette experts'? It may not be the custom in Britain and the United States for people to remove their shoes at the door. Yet this should not be an obstacle to us free men and women adopting it.

We are the makers of manners.

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes


Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Etiquette is Bunk

I get so irritated by these so-called 'etiquette experts' who continue to insist that it is impolite to ask guests to remove their shoes. Who made them rulers and judges over us?

There is no absolute bible of etiquette. There are certain courtesies that most of us are agreed about, but other than that it is a matter of opinion.

When reading travel guides, I have often found they disagree about the details of foreign etiquette. For instance, I have heard conflicting opinions about saunas in Finland. One guide said that one should never refuse the offer of a turn in the sauna; another said that it is perfectly fine to chicken out of a nude sweaty session in Suomi.

On the subject of removing shoes in Japan I have heard conflicting views. Obviously, In Japan you remove your shoes. But do you turn them around to point to the door after removing them? Some say this is the host's responsiblity, others that the guest should do this. Some say that you should always put on the slippers offered by the host (which is a pain because they seldom fit differently shaped western feet), others that you can decline them if you like.

Etiquette is bunk. It is just a matter of opinion. I have no regard for these so-called "etiquette experts" at all.

Etiquette has changed. I read an old etiquette book that said that it was more polite to enter a house in muddy shoes than to remove them. I imagine most hosts today, even those who do not prefer shoes-off would be horrified at the thought of somebody coming in their house in muddy boots. If it is not acceptable to remove shoes in homes, surely it is also acceptable to politely request that they are removed?

Friday, July 18, 2008



I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Everyday Sustainable: Day 11- Take your shoes off

Everyday Sustainable: Day 11- Take your shoes off

Can we turn Britain into a Scandinavian country?

I work in the social care sector, hold slightly progressive views and read the Guardian online. People like me seem to have a desire to turn Britain into a Scandinavian country- more relaxed yet efficent, clean and healthy and with less inequality and social disorder.

Can Britain become a Scandinavian country? Why not? We have a lot in common. We are a north European nation speaking a Germanic language. Plenty of British people are descended from Viking settlers from the time that we were part of the long-forgotten Danish empire. We have a welfare state, a monarchy, a cross in our flag and we are Protestant.

Of course if Britain were to become a progressive liberal Scandinavian country, we will all have to adopt the progressive custom of removing shoes at the door. In my opinion, however wonderful the Swedish welfare state might be, the most wonderful thing about Norway and Sweden is the fact that people take their shoes off when entering homes. Scandinavia is clean and healthy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why summer as well as winter is the season for shoes-off

The car park at my workplace is not paved; its just bare rock and earth. In winter it gets really muddy. Most people would acknowledge that you should take off muddy shoes.

Guess what, in summer it is still just as dirty in that car park. The bare earth dries up and turns into dust. Looking out of the office window now, I can see huge clouds of dust. This stuff gets picked up on shoes as easily as mud.

Road Re-surfacing

The roads got re-surfaced here in Malvern. There is horrible tarmac every where.

I just saw a girl who had crossed the road shaking bits of grit out of her flip flops.

It is horrible to think about what fresh tarmac could potentially do to a carpet. You really should think about it when you enter your home.

And as for those of you who are to polite to ask guests to remove their shoes- just suppose they have walked on a road that has been re-surfaced?

Monday, July 14, 2008



You may not have a baby at crawling age
But if you ask visitors to your home to remove their shoes, you send a message that it is acceptable to keep your home shoe-free. That makes life easier for those who do have crawling babies.

You may not have a new carpet
You may have an old carpet that needs replacing or a wooden
floor that is covered in scratch marks. But if you have a shoes-off policy, it will make it easier for those who do have a new carpet to do the same.

You may not live in an area where there is pesticide on the ground
But if you have a no-shoes rule in your house, it will make those who do need to require shoes-off feel more comfortable about it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?


If you are an Evangelical Christian, you may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sunday Times: Squeaky Green

Sunday Times: Squeaky Green

Recommends removing shoes at the door.

I am not quite so fearful of chemicals as this article is and I do not think the advice to abandon carpets is necessarilly the best way forward.

Monday, July 07, 2008



Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly acceptable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Friday, July 04, 2008

This clip seems to be getting peoples' attention

Trawling the blogsphere, I am seeing a lot of links to this article with the t.v. clip. The clip gives the results of an experiment which revealed just how filthy peoples' shoes really are.

Quite a few bloggers say they are being persuaded by this clip to go shoeless at home.

The article is less impressive. It quotes a number of dinosaur 'etiquette experts' who are determined to bury their heads in the sand and tell us that asking guests to remove their shoes is impolite. I really do get annoyed with these 'etiquette experts' who refuse to move with the times.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Whoopi Goldberg adopts a Shoes-Off Policy

Apparently, the actress Whoopi Goldberg has decided to adopt a shoes-off policy. My source is a blog post (anti-shoes-off).

Green: Taking off your shoes

Green: Taking off your shoes

Life as Mom: Mahalo for removing your slippahs

Life as Mom: Mahalo for removing your slippahs

RV NOW: Do you remove your shoes before entering your RV?

RV NOW: Do you remove your shoes before entering your RV?

I am not 100% sure what an RV is, but I think it is great that some people remove their shoes before entering them.

God bless RV owners!

Kid n Kitties: You are now entering a shoe free zone.

Kid n Kitties: You are now entering a shoe free zone.

It is great to read about people who choose the shoes-off lifestyle.

Going Green Today: How Contaminated Shoe's Soles Are

Going Green Today: How Contaminated Shoe's Soles Are