Friday, October 31, 2008

Encourage but not Insist?


Some people say that it is fine to encourage people to remove their shoes, but one should not insist that they do so.

There is a fine line between insisting on people removing their shoes and encouraging people to take them off. There are a number of things one could say that are subtle encouragements:

We take our shoes off here.

You might like to take your shoes off.

These imply strongly that the host wants the guest to remove her shoes. I do not see that insisting or asking is worse than encouraging. If you encourage people to take their shoes off, then you have started from the assumption that people will be willing to take them off. By encouraging, you apply a degree of moral pressure to comply.

I think a lot of people would not want the uncertainty of just being encouraged. I was dating a girl a few years ago when I was not 100% sold out to the shoes-off rule. She asked me if she should remove her shoes. I told her that we removed our shoes but she did not have to. She was actually uncomfortable at this answer and asked me whether I wanted her to take them off or not.

Sometimes it is simpler just to be straight with people and ask them to remove their shoes. No need to beat around the bush.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Beautiful Sight

My parents were hosting an home fellowship meeting this evening.

I arrived back late after an interview in London to see several pairs of shoes by the door. Always a beautiful sight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Real Estate Blog: Seller Preparations- Get an Entry Rug

Real Estate Blog: Seller Preparations- Get an Entry Rug

"Yes, sometimes buyers need to be beaten over the head THREE times before they get the message that I do indeed mean them, too, and that they don't have some sort of Shoe VIP status alleviating them from taking their shoes off." Removing shoes before entering someone's house Removing shoes before entering someone's house

Supporters of Celtic football club discuss the issue. Mind the bad language in some comments.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Standing on chairs

I go to an evening service at the local Brethren assembly.

This evening, a gentleman (about 60) was changing the time of the clock. He had stood to do this on a chair and had removed his shoes before doing. That was nice to see from somebody his age. Older people tend to be a bit less shoe-conscious in my opinion.

I do think it is a nice gesture when people remove their shoes before standing on a chair. Somebody is eventually going to sit where your feet have been.

In Japan, people will even remove their slippers before standing on a chair.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Technical Fault

This is annoying.

For some reason, the comments link for the video post below is not appearing on the main page.

If anybody wanted to make a comment on the video (you can if you like), just clikc on the title to get the post-page where you can comment.

I am sorry, I just love this video!

I know, I have posted a link to this video before, but I just love it. The girl in this video had been arrested for firing a gun.

Given all that you hear in the news about police brutality, it is rather refreshing to see a police officer trying as hard as possible to be nice to the detainee. I just love the officer's line:

I'm here to talk to you and make you feel better about life.

Maybe I am a bit cruel finding this funny.

In case anybody is wondering what this has to do with shoes-off; the girl's boots and socks are removed when she is put in the holding cell.

Party Themes

I you are hosting a party, the best way to get shoes-off from all the guests is to make it part of the theme. There are a number of possible themes that can incorporate shoe-lessness:

1950s Sock Hop

1960s Hippie party

Pyjama party

Silly Slipper party- get guests to bring the silliest slippers they can find.

Hawaian Night

Japanese Evening

Ancient Greek themed pary

Ancient Egyptian themed party

Flintstones party

If anybody can think of any others, please suggest them in the comments.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Well done

We had a tiler working in our kitchen today. He needed to go into the lounge to fetch something that had been stored there. He removed his shoes before doing so.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bare Feet


In the UK and the USA a lot of people feel a sense of disgust and abjection towards feet. Of course, in many Asian countries, the foot is considered to be unclean. However, this is in connection with the fact that the foot touches the ground. Thus, shoes are considered to be far more unclean than the naked foot. In an Asian home, barefeet are acceptable, but shoes are not. This is actually the very opposite of the western abjection of the foot.

It is very common in internet discussions about shoes-off in homes for the subject of barefeet to be raised. It is argued that barefeet are disgusting, more so than the dirt on peoples' shoes. Of course, if you do feel that feet are disgusting, you can still ask visitors to remove their shoes if you lend then flip flops or socks to wear. Angie mentioned this in a previous post.

It is very likely that the sense of disgust about barefeet will decline. Sandals and flip flops have become incredibly popular in the UK and the USA. People are becoming more used to exposed feet. And ladies (and maybe some men) are spending good money on keeping them looking nice.

The argument that feet are more unhygienic than shoes is quite wrong. Unless a person has been going barefoot outdoors, they will not have been picking up the awful things that the soles of shoes pick up (though sandal-shod feet do get a bit dusty). You may think your feet are disgusting, however, you undoubtedly have more germs on your hands than on your feet. Feet are usually remarkably cleaner than the average pair of hands.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The positive side of removing shoes at airport security

(Evidently there is still plenty of fear about flight safety- there is talk in Europe about implementing body scanners that view passengers in the nude.)

In the USA, unlike in most European countries, it is mandatory for passengers to remove shoes at airport security. However, I understand that the TSA is experimenting with x-ray devices that are hoped will make shoe-removal unnecessary.

Although many people complain and complain about having to take their shoes off at the airport, personally I see something positive in this bizarre practice that we have experienced over the last few years. I think it will be a little sad if removing shoes is finally phased out.

People in the west put so much effort into construting their professional and social identities. For many people their money and profession is such a fundamental part of the image they project about themselves. That is why the old drinks party question "what do you do?" is so important.

Yet at airport security, all this is stripped away. No matter how rich you are, no matter how respectable your profession, or your celebrity status, all must stand in stocking feet before the men and women who work in airport security. As I have said before, coming through airport security is the nearest thing that most people experience to being arrested- pockets are emptied, belts and shoes are removed and one is powerless before the agents of the state. It is at the airport that the fundamentally coercive nature of modern society is revealed.

It is at airport security that we become truly human in our vulnerability.

The identities and masks of social status are stripped away at the security checkpoint. The brogues of the well-heeled businessman are removed to reveal socks with holes. The Jimmy Choo stilettos of a footballer's wife are removed to reveal cracked heels.

At this place we reveal our true selves and our frail humanity. We are allthe same in our vulnerability and human weakness.

Perhaps there is something comical in it too. Perhaps the experience of the horrors of terrorism has enabled us to find something funny, a light relief in the incongruity of the great and the good all standing shoeless.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two fictional people


Giles is a lawyer who lives in Surrey. He lives with his wife and two teenage children.

He enjoys golfing. He attends his local parish church and is a member of the Conservative party. However, his main passion is for his Harley Davidson motorcycle, which his wife occasionally permits him to ride.

Giles has a shoes-off policy in his home. He and his wife decided upon this some time after they moved into a new house with cream coloured carpets. They had not intended to impose this rule, but after a number of black marks started to appear not long after they moved in and they received a bill for a professional professional carpet cleaning job, they felt they had no choice.

Some of their guests were a little surprised by the new rule when invited to frequent dinner parties there and some of Giles' wife's friends occasionally looked a little sad when leaving their expensive shoes at the door. However, most of them have become used to it and a number have followed suit in introducing a shoes-off rule. Many of them bring slippers when visiting Giles and his wife.

Giles' teenage son and daughter needed a little coaxing to get used to the rule. The daughter occasionally makes faces when reminded to remove her shoes, especially when she has her friends over.


Victoria lives in in London with her partner and their two small children. Victoria and her partner run a vegetarian cafe and restaurant.

Victoria has pink hair and sevaral facial piercings. She is very keen on punk rock, particularly 80s crustcore type bands. She took part in many protests against the Iraq war and was more recently protesting about the expansion of Heathrow airport.

Victoria has a shoes-off policy in their house. Victoria is not the most houseproud of women and tends not to worry a lot about dirt. However, while travelling in south-east asia before they had children, Victoria and her partner came into contact with the practice of shoe removal. Victoria quite liked the practice, as she enjoyed going barefoot and thought it would bring a slightly oriental flavour to their home. Being very concerned about the environment, Victoria feels glad she adopted the shoes-off policy before having children. She is concerned about the effects of toxic chemicals and pollution on her children.

Victoria frequently invites friends to her home, hence their is often a vast pile of shoes and sandals at the door. Most of her friends are easy-going people, many of whom enjoyed going barefoot, liek Victoria. However, a few of them favour combat boots that take a little while to unlace.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Being straight with guests

I would argue that having a 'don't ask but encourage' policy with shoes is not really any more polite than having a shoes-off rule.

Sometimes it is good for people to know where they stand.

It did occur to me that having a 'don't ask' policy might cause resentment and division amongst guests at party.

The people who take their shoes off may feel superior to those who have kept their shoes on. Even worse they may feel resentful of those people who have kept their shoes on.

A bigger problem is the embarrassment caused to guests who have kept their shoes on when they realise that shoes-off is preferred. Discovering that shoes-off is preferred when they have been walking about the house shod for an hour might make them feel rather awkward.

Hospitality part 2


Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surprised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Times are changing

I remember an occasion, when I was about ten years old, when a middle-aged babysitter removed her shoes while in our house.

I think it did surpise me to see an adult removing her shoes. I think in my mind at the time, children removed their shoes but adults always kept them on. Presumably, that was my experience.

These days I am quite used to seeing adults removing their shoes when visiting homes. So I think habits are changing.

Monday, October 13, 2008



There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted.

When I get my own house or apartment, I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?
Posted by Celestial Fundie

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This week's shoeless Bible study

I was at the Bible study at the pastor's house tonight.

There are two meetings at the pastor's house, the prayer meeting and the Bible study. The Bible study is held in a carpeted room and nearly everybody takes their shoes off. The prayer meeting, however, is held in a room with wooden floors. A few people who attend both meetings remove their shoes for the Bible study, but not the prayer meeting.

A lot of people attend the Bible study and the carpeted room gets very crowded. A lady was sat in a seat that was right next to the fireplace so that her feet were on its marble base (not sure what the proper word is for the base of a fireplace). To avoid getting cold feet she carried her shoes into the room and wore them while she was sat down. But she took them off when she got up again.

Being the obsessive compulsive that I am, I got distracted from the Bible study by wondering whether a lady sat near to me was in slippers or wearing shoes. I am terrible.

White screen photos

At the house I visited yesterday, there were some white screen photographs of the family.

These white screen photos people are always either in socks or bare feet, presumably to avoid making marks on the white background.

It is interesting that the popularity of these kind of photographs means that families are being portrayed with their shoes off.

Visiting different houses

I lead a Bible study at my parents' home fellowship group yesterday (they go to a different church to me).

The hosts were shoeless and there was a large shoe rack in the entrance.

Most of the people who attended the meeting removed their shoes.

Manners are changing. Years ago at such a meeting the hosts would have worn their shoes and the vistitors would have kept their shoes on.

The expectation is increasingly shifting in the direction of everybody being shoeless in a home.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The relationship between host and guest


Some people seem to see the shoes-off rule as an unfair restriction on the freedom of guests. I think that is a very sad attitude.

I rather see the removing of shoes as a beautiful and peaceful exchange between host and guest.

The guest removes her shoes when she enters the home. She shows respect to the house she is entering. She does not treat it like a restaurant where her custom is king. Nor does she treat it as her own home, where she may do as she pleases. She has entered the home of another family and she must respect the fact that their lives are lived here.

The hostess is in turn delighted by the respect that the guest shows her. In removing her shoes, the guest has entered into the environment of her family. The hostess will treat her guest with all the courtesy and kindness that she would show to her own family members. She will take care to look after her to the utmost while she remains under her roof. She will serve her the best food, give her the best seat. If necessary she will drive her home in her car or let her stay the night.

In removing her shoes, the guest becomes like the hostess, who is already shoeless. She identifies with the hostess who has welcomed her into her home. In their both becoming shoeless, the host and guest enter a fellowship and unity. They are both without shoes; they are equals. This is true friendship.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Do so-called "Etiquette Experts" live on a different planet?

In general, so-called "etiquette experts" look unfavourably on shoes-off policies.

They sometimes grudgingly allow that one can ask guests to remove their shoes, but with the qualification that one should provide guests with slippers.

I think this shows they are on another planet. I know there are many countries like Russia and Japan, where guests will be given slippers by the host, but whenever I have sought peoples' opinion on borrowed slippers, whether online or in person they tell me they really don't like the idea of borrowing slippers.

It seems clear to me that while people in Japan and Russia may not mind wearing somebody else's slippers, people in the UK, and probably the USA too, would prefer socks or bare feet to borrowed slippers. The fact that so-called "etiquette experts" are oblivious to this shows that they are out of touch with the modern world.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

More celebrities with shoes-off rules

Reese Witherspoon Has House Rules

It appears that Reese Witherspoon, the star of Legally Blonde has a shoes-off rule in her home.

Tobey Maguire, star of Spider-Man, has a partial shoes-off rule for an uncommon reason- he is vegan and will not abide leather in his home. An odd policy, but as I have said we have to respect the choices that people make.

(Tobey Maguire's leather ban)

South Korean Nightclubs

I have read that some South Korean nighclubs require patrons to remove their shoes. That sounds cool. I suppose it would prevent one's toes being squashed on the dance floor by sharp heels.

I can't imagine a British nightclub having a shoes-off policy. The few nightclubs I have been to (I would not want to encourage people to go to nightclubs) were pretty dirty places. You might not want to be shoeless in them. Of course, one occasionally saw girls going shoeless on the dance floor, but I am not sure they would have taken their shoes off if they had not been drinking.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Power of Blogging

I was listening on the radio to a feature about a blogger who had apparently first suggested the idea of nominating Sarah Palin (Go Sarah!) as vice presidential candidate. He had promoted this idea through a blog entirely devoted to it. Palin had apparently telephoned him to congratulate him after receiving the nomination.

This blogger argued that it is possible for bloggers like himself to have a huge influence. Minor blogs get read by more popular bloggers and these get read by the household name bloggers, who in turn are read by the media.

It has been my aim with this blog to promote the lifestyle choice of keeping a 'no shoes allowed' home. I am thankful that unlike this political blogger I am not trying to achieve some incredible task. If I were trying to get a politician nominated to office, I would either succeed or not succeed (and it is not often that one achieves success in that). I may not succeed in making the shoes-off rule as common in Britain as it is in Sweden or Canada, but if I can persuade a five or six English, Scots, Americans or Australians to leave the shoes at the door, and ask visitors to do the same, I have achieved something.

So how does one have an influence through the blogsphere?

The first thing is to have a blog that is focused. When I first started blogging, I put my shoes-off posts on my personal blog. However, I decided as this was my favorite issue, I would be more effective by having an whole blog dedicated to the subject. Hence, if anybody puts 'shoes off' or 'please remove shoes' into a search engine, they are likely to find their way here.

The other thing to do is to post comments on other people's blogs, especially the big blogs, as that way people find your blog. I find this a bit tricky because it is time-consuming. I don't tend to read major bloggers much. I comment on the blogs of people who mention the subject of removing shoes and I visit blogs that interest me (fundamentalist Christian blogs).

I have been noticed by other bloggers and occasionally somebody will link to this blog in a post.

If any readers would like to set up their own pro- shoes off blog, I will happily promote it here.