Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make a New Years Resolution

Are you going to make a New Year's resolution? You may have some ideas already, perhaps to lose weight or to quit smoking. Perhaps you want to be more cultured and plan on listening to Wagner's Ring cycle.

One resolution you could make is to stop wearing shoes in your house and to ask family and friends to do the same.

Adopting a shoes-off rule might not be a great moral transformation, but it is a simple thing that will have a definite practical benefit.

Perhaps tomorrow you will be hosting a New Year's Eve party and the guests will damage the floor in their spike heels. Personally, I would recommend you to ask for shoes-off, but perhaps seeing the damage on New Years' day will add force to your resolution to go shoes-free.

If you adopt this resolution, your carpet will last longer and you can spend less money on carpet cleaning.

Perhaps you are expecting to have a baby in the next year. If so, having a shoes-off policy will create a safer and healthier environment for your family.

Life is full of small and simple decisions and this is one decision that could improve the quality of your life. Make that resolution.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Really Daft Comment

If you don't want shoe-wearing people in your house, then why invite them to a party at your house to begin with?

This person is evidently under the impression that shoes are an integral part of the wearer's body.

Some Very Reasonable Thoughts

The Domestic Empress: Hospitality is not the same as Customer Service

A very nicely balanced post on the etiquette of the shoes-off rule. Good title too.

The Empress argues that while it is rude to demand that guests remove their shoes if they do not fee comfortable removing them, there is nothing inherently rude about asking guests politely to take off their shoes:

I was raised to know that when you are a guest in someone’s home you are to be on your very best behavior. People invite you into their home as a treat. It is a privilege to be asked into someone’s home and be treated as a guest – not a right. Of course you should make yourself comfortable, but that means relax and have fun being polite – not to walk all over them and expect to bend house rules just because you’re a guest. After all, this is someone’s home, it’s not a hotel. It is polite for them to make you feel comfortable, but it is not their job.

So if I am asked to someone else’s home and they politely request that I take my shoes off before I come inside then by all means I am going to take my shoes off. Most of the time I will leave my shoes at the door without being asked, just out of courtesy, especially if I walk in and see a pile of shoes by the door.

I don’t think it’s even a little bit rude to ask your guests to take their shoes off before they come in. After all, odds are high you’ve just cleaned the house and would like to keep it that way. Depending on the number of guests you’re having, there may be serious consequences for your floor if everyone keeps their shoes on – especially in this dismal winter weather.

Readers of this blog may disagree with the Empress when she rejects shoes-off signs and insists on allowing in refuseniks, but it is nice to see somebody recognising that a simpe request is perfectly reasonabe.

A Rather Extreme Reaction

Things I want to punch in the Face: Shoeless Households

Sidebar Comments Box

I am afraid I had to remove the sidebar comments box.

Somebody used some bad language and I could not see a way to delete the comment.

I hate to delete comments, but I do want this to be a family-friendly page.

Please feel free to leave comments on the posts; I do not mind if they are a little off-topic. However, please refrain from using bad language. This blog is all about showing respect.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

My parents had some relatives visit today; a couple with small children. They removed their shoes without being asked (though they did prompt their children to remove theirs) and came in with socks or bare feet.

For once, my parents did not urge them to keep their shoes on.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

I have driven down to Hastings to see my family. I have openned lots of presents, had a few drinks and we are all having a good time.

Perhaps you are having family visiting at Christmas and the New Year. It is not wrong to think about your carpet or floor. The weather outside probably is not likely to be brilliant.

It is Christmas. Everybody will be relaxed and wanting to unwind. Your guests will not be offended if you ask them to slip their shoes off.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seeing this blog in Romanian

Somebody from Romania came onto this blog on a Google search. The Google page offered a translation of the blog into Romanian. It was kind of weird to see my stuff translated into another language. Of course, I can't vouch for the accuracy of an electronic translation.

Saturday, December 19, 2009



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.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting Attention

This blog got a mention in an article in the Boston Herald website, written by Lauren Beckham Falcone. Its from the pro-shoes-on perspective: Party hosts’ shoes-off policy should be booted to the curb

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 4


Pekka is an hydraulic engineer from Finland, but he lives and works in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is single and rents an apartment in Aberdeen.

Pekka has lived in the UK for two years and finds it an interesting place. He finds the Scots rather noisy and a little odd, but is proud to demonstrate that Finns can drink more than any Scotsman.

Like many in his country, Pekka is very fond of heavy metal, and being patriotic loves Finnish bands like Finntroll and Turisas. Pekka also loves ice hockey, the Finnish national game and is baffled by the British preference for soccer, a game he finds rather dull.

Pekka has a no-shoes rule in his apartment.

All his life, Pekka had removed his shoes when entering homes. That was until he came to Britain. He was shocked when he discovered that Scots and English often keep their shoes on in homes. He had imagined that in other countries people took their shoes off, just like in Finland. He had seen people in American sitcoms wear shoes in homes, but had just thought this was just a convention.

When a few visitors came into his apartment with their shoes on, he was strongly tempted to try out some hand-to-hand combat techniques he had picked up during his military service, but thought better of it. Now he just asks for shoes-off in short, sweet, Finnish style.


Martha is the mother of four children and lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband, who is a doctor.

Martha and her husband are devout evangelical Christians. They left their previous Baptist church, believing it to be too worldly and now host a small fellowship of Christians in their home. They feel that the intimacy of a church meeting in a home is much deeper than the usual experience of a congregation.

Martha does not work, but has taken on the responsiblity of home schooling her four children. She believes that much of the teaching in the public school system is built on an evolutionary and humanistic philosophy. She wants her children to learn biblical ways of thinking.

Martha has a shoes-off policy in her home. She wants to protect her children from the dirt and filth outside the home. Just as she would not allow horror films or rock music into the home, she would not allow anybody to defile it with dirt from their shoes.

Martha make considerable use of their house. Four families worship their at the house church meeting and sometimes a few others attend. The tiny congregation appreciate the hospitality of Martha and her husband in openning up their home for church meetings and are happy to respect their wish for shoes-off at the door.

Martha also offers tuition in maths and science for other home-schoolers and naturally asks her pupils and their parents to remove their shoes when attending.

Martha seeks to use her home for the service of God and feels that by looking after the carpets and floors, she is making it last longer and better able to accomodate guests.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Egyptian Gods

And we must not forget that the gods of ancient Egypt were always portrayed barefoot.

The ancient Egyptians were so enlightened that they saw nothing odd about Pharaohs, queens or noblemen being shoeless in public. Contrary to any movies you might have seen, even if they do star Charlton Heston.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Elegantly Bare Foot

I want to challenge the notion that being bare foot should be associated with informality, poverty, tackiness or 'rednecks.'

The great artists of the past loved to paint the human form and they welcomed the challenge of painting the naked human foot. They have left us with many images of people who are barefoot, yet still posessing grace and elegance.

This blog's header image, The Golden Stairs, by Edward Burne Jones is a good example of this, but here are some more:

Monday, December 07, 2009

A great comment

I found this comment on this thread, Fodorite Lounge Forum: Shoes off in my house! Does this bug you?

"Good Morning America" did a story on the underside of people's shoes -- they said that 9 out of 10 shoes were contaminated with coliform (bacteria from fecal matter) that was most likely picked up from the floor of public restrooms or animal waste. The level of bacteria was 1,000 times higher than the level found on most toilet seats.

They cited university studies that found other forms of bacteria as well, which cause intestinal infections, eye infections, and even lung infections. The bacteria was easily transfered from the shoes onto both carpet and tile flooring. The bacteria apparently live longer on shoes than on other surfaces because as we walk around, the constant addition of new germs feeds the growing bacteria population.

Maybe it's just me, but I prefer my home -- where my grandchildren play on the floor and put their hands in their mouths afterwards -- to be cleaner than a public toilet seat, not 1,000 times filthier. If that makes me a poor host, so be it. (But I like to think that I'm doing my guests a favor, even if they don't realize or appreciate it -- I'm providing them with a clean environment to relax in, one that won't make them ill, and probably cleaner than their own home).



You might think that with cars having catalytic converters, lead on the ground would not be much of a risk. However, cars had been belting out leaded petrol for years.

Lead does not biodegrage, decay or dissipate. Furthermore it gets absorbed by soil. It is not just cars that have introduced lead into our environment, lead paint, debris from demolished and various industrial activities have deposited lead onto the ground in urban locations.

Lead can be introduced into homes on peoples' shoes through soil and dust. This creates a serious risk of exposure, particularly for children. Potential risks of lead exposure include brain damage, behaviour changes, slowed growth, poor mental and educational development and hearing problems and seizures.

Having a shoe-free home can considerably reduce the risk of lead exposure.

Sole Truth About Those Soles

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Strange Bedfellow

Being rather sceptical about environmental concerns, I am naturally a bit smug about the 'Climategate' emails.

It is weird because most of the blogs and websites that advocate removing shoes in homes revolve around environmentalism and green living.

But as I have said before, what I like about championing this issue is that it is something that can cut across differences over politics and religion.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009



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 thos

Friday, November 27, 2009

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.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear person from Romania

Dear Romanian person, you keep visiting this blog. Have you ever commented before? It would be nice to hear from you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Russian National Anthem

Quite a nice anthem, I think.

If you ever visit a Russian home, you will be expected to remove your shoes and you will probably be given some slippers to wear.

Monday, November 16, 2009


You will have noticed that there is lots of dust on the streets, unless you live in Finland, where the streets are immaculate.

You will also have noticed that on dry days soily ground is dusty. It is estimated that 35% of household dust originates in outdoor soil.

Naturally, as much of it originates from the ground, dust contains all the sort of things that are on the ground, such as pesticides, weed killer and lead. Things which are not good for your health. Keeping as much of this dust out of the home is a really sensible idea and this means taking off your shoes at the door and asking visitors to do the same.

Even if the dust that gets in is not full of toxins, it is good to reduce it. It reduces the quality of indoor air and can be a source of allergies.

A fashionable strategy is to remove carpets, as they absorb dust. However, this may be counterproductive as without the carpet, the dust is exposed. If you are going to go carpetless, you either need to sweep very often. Hence, whether you choose to opt for carpet or sans carpet, a shoes-off policy is totally adviseable.

Making This Home: A Poem To Ask People To Remove Their Shoes At The Door

Making This Home: A Poem To Ask People To Remove Their Shoes At The Door

Tuesday, November 10, 2009



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.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dedicated Research

I have just been doing some research on contestants on Come Dine with Me. Turns out one competing hostess who required shoes-off was Tanya Williams in Edinburgh, a born-again Christian (go Christians!) from Texas serving southern state cuisine.

This contestant was black. I may be totally wrong, but I do get the impression that black people seem a lot less shy than whites in asking for shoes-off. I must admit I have never visited the home of a black person, having mostly lived in predominantly white areas.

Another contestant approved by this blog is Nikki Bennett in Birmingham, who requested that her guests remove their shoes and bring slippers with them.

You miss a lot without a television

I mentioned in a post about the t.v. program "Come Dine with Me" which is a competition where the competitors try to host the best dinner party. I expressed doubt that asking the guests to remove their shoes would go down well.

According to somebody on Twitter, a hostess asked the other competitors to remove their shoes in her home.

If anybody has seen this episode, please let me know what happened.

Friday, November 06, 2009


HIPRF stands for Herbicides, Insecticides, Pesticides, Rodenticides and Fungicides. These are chemicals that are used to deal with weeds, insects, spiders, slugs, mice and fungus. They are used in all sorts of places, particularly outside, on lawns, pathways and driveways.

You do not know how often you are picking up these chemicals on your shoes. If you wear shoes in your house, you are introducing them onto your floor and into the dust that you breath. HIPRFs are toxins that are designed to kill lifeforms. Hence they can present health risks, particularly to children.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I had a visit from the "T.V. Detector Man"

Americans are often amazed to learn that in Britain you have to buy a licence to own a television set (which according to Richyrich costs £142.50). Other than satisfying our traditional British puritanism (of which I am justly proud) it pays for the BBC, the greatest public broadcasting corporation in the world (which blessed us with Doctor Who). In the USA nobody watches public broadcasting, here in the UK you have public broadcasting which is good enough to compete with, and often betters commerical broadcasting.

If you don't pay for a t.v. licence you can get a huge fine or even be put in prison.

If like me, you do not own a television, you will get lots of scary letters warning you of the consequences of watching t.v. without a licence. Until now.

I had a visit from the 'T.V. Detector Man" who came to inspect my property to see if I own a television. I had no hesitation in inviting him in to carry out his inspection.

I was glad to see he noticed the 'Please take off your shoes' sign on my doormat and he politely removed them. Very encouraging.

Daily Express: Why it pays to take off your shoes

Daily Express: Why it pays to take off your shoes

Its good to see this subject raised in a national British newspaper.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What if?

New Statesman magazine features a light-hearted column by Dominic Sandbrook which speculates about how things might have turned out differently. This week's column speculated on what might have been if Britain had voted not to join the EEC in 1975.

Aside from Tony Benn becoming chancellor of the exchequer, the article suggests that Britain would have developed very intimate relations with Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In this might-have-been world, Britain becomes like the Nordic countries a slightly dull but orderly and socially progressive country immersed in Scandinavian culture:

There are always those who think that we would have been better off staying in the EEC, and that today's Britain, with its environmentally friendly monarchy, its entrenched social democracy and its taste for meatballs, is all a bit dull. But it's surely a small price to pay for trains that run on time, redistributive taxes and the world's leading whaling industry. And who wants to be like Italy, anyway?

No doubt in such an imaginary world, Britain would be a nation of progressive people who always remove their shoes at the door, just like Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apartment Therapy: The Benefits of Leaving Your Shoes at the Door

Apartment Therapy: The Benefits of Leaving Your Shoes at the Door

Is anybody keeping count of all the punch-ups on Apartment Therapy over this subject?


Here is my childish streak coming out. I am a huge fan of Gerry Anderson's 1960s puppet show Stingray. I have the complete series on DVD.

Stingray was the series Gerry Anderson created before Thunderbirds. It is about a submarine called Stingray and its crew. Stingray's crew battle underwater aliens and save the world countless times. Although Thunderbirds is much more popular, in my opinion, Stingray was much better because the characters were much more richly developed. Much of the character development revolves around the love triangle between Stingray's captain, Troy Tempest, his girlfriend Lt. Atlanta Shore and the mysterious and silent girl from under the sea, Marina. Perhaps a surpising element in a program for children. Personally, I think Troy is an horrible character. He is so smug about having two women in love with him. He seems to play them off against each other without being able to comitt to either.

The 1960s standards of the show are amusing; the main characters are frequently shown smoking and drinking. They are also remarkably gung-ho: "It's an unknown craft, Commander!" "Fire hydroponic missiles immediately!" Probably, having a central female character who cannot speak would not go down to well in contemporary television either.

Stingray departs from the tendency of science fiction to always have characters wearing shoes all the time. Marina is always barefoot (apart from in two episodes). We see a close-up of her feet in the episode "Hostages of the Deep", which revels that her toes are webbed like a duck. These are not created by the puppet, but are a close-up of human feet wearing prosthetics. Many of the alien baddies are also barefoot, including the mighty Titan and his spy, Agent X20.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Medical Conditions


If you read internet discussions about the subject of the shoes-off rule, you will find countless people who claim to have a medical condition that means they must wear shoes all the time. If these discussions were representative of the population; nearly half the people in the USA have such a medical condition. I do not believe it.

Yes, there are some people who do have a genuine medical reason for not removing their shoes. We must make exceptions for them.

Some people say having a shoes-off policy causes embarassment for such people because they must reveal their condition. However, this is quite unnecessary. A person with a medical condition can simply say:

I am sorry, I can't take my shoes off. Doctor's orders.

She does not need to reveal the nature of her condition. She does not need to give any embarassing details. There is really no problem here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Germs are not necessarilly the issue

A lot of people think those who ask for shoes-off in their homes are 'germaphobes.' It is certainly true that a lot of people who have a shoes-off policy are parents of small children who are concerned about germs being walked in on peoples' shoes. This is a quite legitimate concern.

This concern is often countered by the so-called 'hygiene hypothesis.' This holds that allergies are currently on the rise because peoples' homes are too clean and modern children are not sufficiently exposed to bacteria. There is evidence to support this theory, even if the jury is still out.

Even assuming that the 'hygiene hypothesis' is correct, there is no obvious way to decide how much dirt is healthy. Very few parents would be happy about cooking in a dirty kitchen, or having their children sleep in filthy rooms. While some bacteria is good and healthy, some bacteria can cause all sorts of diseases.

More importantly, there are some things that your shoes picky up that are not germs, but very much in the unwanted category: lead, pesticide, weed killer, dog excrement, roundworms, dust, pollen, plant sap, mold, toxoplasmosis (a parasite which is transmitted through animal excrement and which can survive in infected soil), cigarette ash, arsenic, mecury, asbestos, cadmium and thallium.

Simply put, your shoes can pick up anything. Please keep them out of the house.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Point on Hints

Removing shoes came up in yet another discussion on Apartment Therapy. A commenter called akay made a great point:

Everyone -- regardless of their inside footwear policy -- usually has a couple of shoes by the door, so this barely qualifies as a hint.

A lot of people suggest that if you just leave some shoes by the door, it is enough of hint that shoes-off is preferred. Ideally, people would take a hint, but in reality I don't think this will always happen. As akay points out, even people who don't have a shoes-off policy will often leave shoes by the door, so it is not really a hint.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Party Themes


I you are hosting a party and you want it to be fancy-dress, but don't want to mess up your carpet, you could incorporate shoelessness into the theme. There are a number of possible fancy dress themes that would fit:

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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 3


Tim is 22 and lives in Birmingham where he works as an IT technician at the university.

He is single and shares a house with two friends.

Tim is very keen on science fiction and owns a large collection of Sci-fi DVDs. He and his friends are also very keen on computer games.

Tim has a shoes-off policy in his house. When he was younger and lived with his parents, he was expected to remove his shoes. When he moved out of the family home, he saw no reason to depart from the norm and got his housemates removing their shoes. Taking care of the carpet just seemed commonsense. Tim's housemates had also grown up expecting to remove shoes in their own homes and when visiting friends. For them, being in socks when in a home was normal for them.

When Tim's girlfriend first visited his house, she was surpised that at a house inhabited by three young men was as clean as it is. She was impressed and had no objection to removing her shoes when visiting.

When watching science fiction movies and t.v. shows, Tim sometimes wonders why characters are seldom shoeless.


Charlotte is 29 and lives with her partner in Reading. She is a pharmacist by profession.

Charlotte is a passionate lover of all things Japanese. She has visited Japan trhee times and she attends Japanese language classes. She has an avid interest in Japanese Anime films. It is a certainty that any exhibition of Japanese art in the Uk will be visited by Charlotte.

Charlotte admits that her Japanese cooking leaves a little to be desired, but it is not for want of trying. She is not brilliant at cooking English food either, but pharmacy was her calling in life, not catering.

She developed this fanatical interest when she visited a museum at the age of nine. In the museum she saw suits of samuarai armour, Japanese statues and other artifacts that fascinated her. Ever since, she took every opportunity to learn something of the country.

Perhaps inevitably, she adopted the custom of removing shoes in her home. Of course, she had several tatami mats in her living room, so wearing shoes was not an option. Charlotte's partner was under strict instructions to follow Japanese etiquette and remove his slippers before stepping on her tatami mats. He did draw the line at changing into toilet slippers when in the bathroom.

Charlotte's friends smile when reminded to remove their shoes. They put it down to her nipponophile craziness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shoes Off at a Party?


There are some people who are strict about no-shoes in their homes who make an exception for parties. They feel that parties are an occasion when people expect to dress up and this must include shoes. I disagree with their view. I think it is perfectly reasonable to require shoes to be removed for a party.

In Canada and Scandinavia, it is common for people to attend formal parties with a special set of party shoes that are not worn outdoors. This is not really feasible in the UK. I doubt that many British folks have shoes that are never worn oudoors, unless they keep a pair of sneakers to go to the gym. And if those formal party shoes have high-heels, they are unacceptable anyway.

Some people say that part of a party is clearing up afterwards, so you should not make a fuss about mess from people's shoes. This seems a little silly to my mind. People will make more than enough mess at a party without them bringing in dirt on their shoes. There will be plenty of spilled wine and crumbs ground into the carpet without chewing gum and dog dirt from peoples' shoes as well. Also the main party season in the West is Christmas and New Year, when there will be plenty of rain and snow (maybe not snow in England, but plenty of rain). The party season is a wet season.

Some argue that people will feel silly and uncomfortable at a party without their shoes. It is true that people might find it a little odd. But they will probably feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. If it is made clear in the invitation that shoes willl need to be removed, then it will not come as a shock. Furthermore, if there is alcohol at the party, then most people will be feeling more relaxed.

The main argument levelled against shoes-off at parties is that people dress up for parties. A lot of people, particularly women, will chose their outfits very carefully and they the choice of shoes is part of that selction. For them, a party is an occasion to show off their good taste. They would not want to combine their cocktail dresses with barefeet.

In response I would say that parties are hardly the only occasions for dressing up. Ladies can show off their fancy shoes in restaurants or at the races. Not all parties are such formal occasions. If a party is a smart-casual event, it is actually quite rude to dress up more smartly than other guests.

The host sets the theme of a party. If it is meant to be a fancy dress party, then you should make the effort to find a costume or stay home. If it is an informal party, leave the suit or cocktail dress at home. If it is a no-shoes party, leave the kitten heels at the door.

I keep making this point, but I will make it again: it is best that guests know in advance that shoe-removal is required. If you are printing fancy invitations, make it known there (with some clip-art maybe?). If people know that they will have to take their shoes off, it will not come as a shock and they can plan their outfit with this in mind. They can bring some nice slippers that complement their outfit if they want and they can avoid long trousers that only look right when worn with high heels.

There is the question of whether it is really possible to hold a formal party while people are shoeless. It may be difficult in the West to maintain an air of formality when everybody is without their shoes, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it not better to be relaxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make an effort to keep the party formal. Men can look reasonably smart by combining respectable slippers with their suits and women can look pretty elegant in stocking feet. So all is not lost. If shoes-off in homes becomes more common, shoe-lessnes will probably become less associated with being casual and informal.

There are some people who will certainly be far more happy and comfortable to party without their shoes on. As I argued in a previous post, it is not simply a matter of giving these people the choice. At a shoes-on party, those who take it upon themselves to remove their shoes are likely to get their feet squashed and to have to walk on a soggy carpet. Shoes-off for all guests makes it easier for those who want to take their shoes off.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting Drunk

I once came back to my parents' house after a session at Worcester Beer Festival. I had drunk quite a few pints of strong ale. When I came in, my father immediately reminded me to remove my shoes. I don't think he realised at the time how ingrained the practice of removing shoes was in me. I doubt that even in a drunken state I would forget to remove my shoes. Naturally, with the beer festival being held at a race course, he was worried about all the mud.

I suppose if somebody has only just got into the habit of removing shoes, getting drunk might cause them to lapse.

It's my job to alert people to the consequences of heavy drinking, so here is a good reason not to get drunk: You might forget to remove your shoes and bring all kinds of dirt onto your carpet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ankle Tattoos

During night shifts, I often watch a t.v. program called Miami Ink. It is about a tattoo studio in Florida and is remarkably interesting. I don't know what I think about tattoos; I can't see myself getting one.

Amongst ladies I know, tattoos on the ankle or foot are quite popular. I suppose if a lady has a tattoo on her ankle she is unlikely to be bothered by attention being drawn to her feet and will probably not be too bothered by being asked to remove her shoes.

We live in liberated times.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Upstairs Downstairs

Some people have a rule in their house that people may keep their shoes on downstairs, but not upstairs. In a similar manner some people require only overnight guests to remove their shoes.

I understand that the upstairs is a more intimate part of the house and the place where sleeping is done (so a natural place to keep allergy-free). However, I really do not see the need to only go half-way on the shoes-off policy. Who wants a clean carpet upstairs and a dirty one downstairs? Besides most peoples' children will be playing as often on the floors downstairs as the floors upstairs.

It seems much more simpler and straightforward to have the whole house shoe-free.

Monday, October 05, 2009



If asked to remove their shoes, most people are polite enough to comply. However, it is always possible that there may be some refuseniks.

If somebody refuses to remove her shoes, the host has several options:

1. Not let them in.

2. Let them in, but express one's unhappiness. Not invite them in again.

3. Let them in, express one's unhappiness, but invite them again hoping that next time they will comply.

4. Let them in and say nothing. Not invite them again.

5. Let them in and say nothing. Invite them again in hope that next time they will be more polite.

There is not right or wrong response. Whether you let them in and whether you invite them again entirely depends upon your wishes.

You have every right to refuse to admit somebody to your home. If a person is visiting to sell you a product or service, or to promote their religious organisation (usually Jehovah's Witnesses are polite enough to offer shoes-off) then you might well refuse to let them in. On the other hand, if your boss is visiting, it might be a bad idea to refuse to let her in!

If the visitor is not a close friend, but a person you have invited to dinner in order to make close acquaintance with, you have every right to never let them darken your door again. On the other hand, you may not want to loose a close friend over the issue. However, you might feel more comfortable expressing your unhappiness to a close friend than to a occasional visitor.

There is simply no right or wrong response to refuseniks.

Would you let somebody in your house if they refused to remove their shoes when asked?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Alternate Attitudes

Its my job to talk to patients at the accident and emergency about the dangers of heavy drinking. During my night shift I took a group of young people who had come to the hospital after an nasty incident at a club to a side-room for an interview. One of them had removed her high heels and was in stocking feet. As we entered the A & E ward, a nurse immediately told the girl she needed to put her shoes back on.

Naturally, the hospital staff have to be concerned about health and safety. But it is amazing to contrast this to many hospitals in India where both staff and patients are expected to remove their shoes and go barefoot! In Britain going barefoot in a hospital is seen as a safety hazard, while in India, it is viewed as a standard hygeine measure. It is fascinating that across the world there are such conflicting attitudes to feet and shoes.

Even in Europe attitudes are different. In Finland (a shoes-off country) you will see staff in supermarkets and department stores wearing open-toed sandals, which would rarely be permitted in British stores.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Coffee-coloured people

In these days of aggressive nationalism and communities divided by ethinicity and religion, there are some liberals who yearn for the old days before multi-culturalism, when the idea of the world being a melting pot of coffee-coloured people seemed a great idea.

I suspect that a world of coffee-coloured people would be a world of shoe-removing people. Simple demographics would ensure that the mass of people in Asia would ensure the prominence of the custom of removing shoes in homes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shoe Covers

Occasionally some people suggest shoe covers as an alternative to shoe-removal.

I have expressed scepticism before that shoe covers can be worn with high heeled shoes. I find it impossible to imagine what an high-heeled shoe with a cover on would look like. Shirley Saunders supports my suspicion. She points out in her book that shoe covers can be damaged by high heeled shoes.

From an aesthetic point of view, I would not want people walking about my home in covered shoes. I want it to be a place of relaxation not a crime scene. In any case, I think most people would feel sillier and more self-conscious in shoe covers than in socks or bare feet.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Something horrible I learned from Shirley Saunders' book.

Roundworms live in the intestines of dogs and cats. They pass their eggs into the feces. These tiny eggs can survive in the soil for months.

You might not see any dog or cat plop on the ground on which you walk, but potentially you are picking up Roundworm eggs on your shoes.

If you allow shoes in your house, Roundworm eggs may be introduced onto the same floor on which your children play. It just takes your child one mouth to hand contact for her to become infected. Potentially she could develope lung problems as a result of infection.

Just take your shoes off and ask others to do the same. Its not rocket science.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Treating other people with respect


We should always do our utmost to treat other people with respect.

All of us have little things that we are sensitive about. Other people might find it hard to understand those things and may think we are oversensitive about them. However, that does not mean that we should not take those things into consideration.

For instance, some people may not like to hear bad language. If so, you should try as hard as you can not to swear when in that person's company. You may think that is silly. You may think they have the problem, not you and they should deal with it. I disagree. I think that you should respect the fact that those people do not like bad language.

Some people may not like you to smoke when there children are present. You may think that is silly, after all they are not going to be affected by you smoking just one cigarette in front of them. However, perhaps these people do not want you to set an example to your children. You should respect that.

Likewise, some people do not want shoes to be worn inside their homes. This is something important to them.

You may think this is daft. If it is for cultural reasons you may think "They are living in the UK not in China." If it is to protect the carpet you may think "Carpets are meant to be walked on." That is fine. You are entitled to your opinion. However, you should still treat their preference with respect. They are fellow human beings who have the right to their preferences and opinions as much as you do. So please don't complain if you are asked to remove your shoes in such homes.

We should also not be afraid to state our preferences. Nobody is going to know that you would rather they avoided using bad language in front of their children unless you tell them this. In the same way nobody will know that you would like shoes-off in your house unless you make it clear. There is nothing wrong with expressing how you feel and asserting your wishes. You have the right to be respected.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why the difference between Japan and Sweden?

Why is it that so many Americans go to Japan and declare that removing shoes in homes is wonderful, while so many other Americans go to Sweden (and Norway) and complain about having to remove their shoes in every home they visit.

It may be because of the different sorts of ex-pat that settle in Japan and Sweden respectively, but I have no idea what difference that would be.

It is nothing to do with the weather; winters in northern Japan are very cold and Japanese homes are much less likely than Swedish homes to have central heating. You are far more likely to get cold feet in a Japanese home.

It may be that Japanese come across as more polite or likeable than Swedish people. Better not go to far that way, or I might offend any Swedish visitors.

I think it has a lot to do with expectations. Everyone who goes to Japan knows that shoes need to be removed in Japanese homes. Not so many people know about removing shoes in Sweden, so people going there may not be psychologically prepared for the change of custom.

I suspect racial attitudes may come into it.

Japanese people look different to most westerners. We expect them to have strange and exotic customs. The exoticism of removing shoes in Japanese homes may come across as a quaint and aesthetically pleasing custom.

Not so the Swedish custom. The Swedes look like westerners, except in being demographically more fair-haired. we expect them to behave in a western manner and not have the sort of strange, exotic customs that we expect in Japan or Thailand.

The Swedes just come across as an whole nation of those awful westerners who expect you to remove their shoes to protect their wretched carpets.

The sort of westerner I am. And the sort of westerner that is becoming increasingly more common. The future is bright under a midnight sun, the future is Nordic.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Yet another American rants about having to remove shoes in Swedish homes

I have mentioned before the peculiar thing that American ex-pats in Japan seem to love removing their shoes in Japanese homes and tend to adopt the custom, while Americans living in Sweden seem to find the custom abhorrent and objectionable.

Karen, an American ex-pat actually went to the trouble of writing a five-part dissertation on removing shoes in Sweden. It does contain some strong language.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

At no.97

The Telegraph recently reported on a poll of the top 100 things that British people find annoying.

At no. 97 was:

People who don't remove their shoes in the house

97 is rather low, but some of the things that made the top 10 are really annoying. Perhaps the reason it came so low was that those who find shoes in the house really annoying (like me) ask visitors to remove their shoes anyway.

Thanks go to Rachael for blogging this.

Mung Beans and Lentils

I had mung beans for tea last night. I have lentils or some other sort of pulse almost every day.

I suppose eating lentils and pulse is rather stereotypical for environmentalist, New Agey shoe-removers.

But I normally ruin the image by having sausages for breakfast.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Running Leaner and Greener: Leave your shoes at the door

Running Leaner and Greener: Leave your shoes at the door

The Future

I can forsee this blog becoming redundant in the future.

I see a lot of signs that removing shoes is steadily becoming the norm. I would venture to predict that in ten years time, keeping shoes on within a home will seem as antiquated as addressing your boss as 'sir,' as they do in The Good Life.

Of course, I might think differently if I were living in the north of the country rather than Hertfordshire, but the north can't be that far behind.

Friday, September 18, 2009

East European Family in KFC

I ate at a KFC today. I saw an East European couple in the restaurant, probably Polish. They had a small child, perhaps six years old. I found it fascinating that while the couple spoke to each other in their own language, their daughter frequently used English, even at such a young age.

The girl's father wiped the table before he sat down to eat with his daughter and her mother. East Europeans seem to recognise the value of cleanliness. As it happened, he was wearing the uniform of an hospital cleaner. I am sure this family, like most East Europeans remove their shoes when entering their home.

This family appeared like almost a model immigrant family. So often East Europeans seem to be so decent; hard working, clean living and generally moral (I suppose I mean conservative) in their values. I think it is wonderful that families like this from Poland and other East European countries are settling down here and having children.

I will admit that I have a tendency to romanticize East Europeans. Their cultures have their faults. I am well aware, as an alcohol misuse worker that many East Europeans drink far too much and are often arrested for drink driving. Yet I believe their exodus is enriching this nation. And may they bless us with their custom of shoes-off in homes.


I was talking to some staff at the hospital and a doctor brought up the subject of removing shoes. She said that in her home she always takes her shoes off and when visiting other people, she always brought her slippers with her (with a bottle of wine for the hosts). Very thoughtful.

A Little Time For Me: Changing the World.. One Shoe at a Time

A Little Time For Me: Changing the World.. One Shoe at a Time

Strollerderby: Kick Off Your Shoes For the Kids

Strollerderby: Kick Off Your Shoes For the Kids

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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'Free Love'

Doing a late night shift at the hospital last night, I saw part of a documentary on 'free love'.

The presenter, Dawn Porter, visited a house in San Diego which hosted a sort of club for people who engaged in 'free love'. They also used New Age techniques and enjoyed naked communal bathing. Dawn Porter was asked to remove her shoes before entering the house.

Not the sort of behaviour I would commend, but at least they take their shoes off for their 'free love' parties. I like the fact that although removing shoes is a very practical and sensible thing, you also get lots of odd and interesting people who do it and insist on it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My apartment wasd inspected by the letting agents yesterday. I got a letter today saying that it is being kept in good condition.

I don't know if the letting agents complied with my doormat message of 'Please take off your shoes', but it would be nice to think they did. It might have even prompted them to remove their shoes in the other two apartments in the block.

I think my 'shoes-off' doormat is a great way of sending a message about shoes in homes.


I gave three medics at the hospital some training about alcohol misuse today.

As trainers often do, I gave them an icebreaking exercise. I asked them each to name something they really disliked.

With my occasional crusading zeal, I named my pet dislike as people not removing their shoes in my home, though I said that it seldom happens because I don't permit it.

One of the medics said she felt the same way. She permitted shoes downstairs, but did not allow them to be worn upstairs, where a carpet was fitted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Home: shoe-free or not?

Happy Home: shoe-free or not?

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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Prague Daily Monitor: Leave your shoes at the door

Prague Daily Monitor: Leave your shoes at the door

By Emily Prucha

About removing shoes in the Czech Republic.

"When I first arrived in Prague, my American roommate and I were told that Czechs take off their shoes before entering someone's house. Although we weren't required to remove our shoes during our TEFL training course, we noted that our teachers and support staff often did, wearing "indoor shoes" or slippers instead. The first clue of how this tradition would affect me came one morning when our downstairs neighbor pounded angrily on our front door. She stormed inside and stomped around in her street shoes, presumably mimicking what we did, and then pantomimed putting on slippers and scuffled noisily in her stocking feet. Chagrined, we vowed to remember to take our shoes off, at least to prevent bad neighborly relations, if not to conform to a culture we were still trying to understand."

The Ramen Girl

Last night, I watched The Ramen Girl, a weepy romantic comedy. It is about an American girl who goes to live in Tokyo and gets dumped by her boyfriend. She then decides to learn to cook ramen, Japanese noodle broth and takes on the tutelage of a bad-tempered Japanese cook. I don't normally go in for weepy rom-coms, but I like Japan and I like Japanese food, so I gave it a try. It was a very enjoyable film.

The American heroine makes the mistake at one point of setting foot in a Japanese home with her shoes on. Not so surprising given that her American boyfriend wears shoes in his apartment, as does another foreigner. However, I am a bit sceptical of this. I get the impression most foreigners living in Japan adopt the local custom of removing shoes. Not necessarily out of choice; if you rent an apartment in Japan, the landlord will require you to go shoeless and to make sure any visitors do the same.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Party Last Night

I attended a party last night that was in honour of somebody leaving for university. The guests were all young people who attended, apart from a middle-aged couple. Everybody removed their shoes.

It is always encouraging when older people remove their shoes. Young people tend to remove their shoes as a matter of course, but when older people do so, it shows real consideration.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shoes Off in Great Britain!

Britannia agrees.

Shoeless at Home: Is it Safer for Baby?

Shoeless at Home: Is it Safer for Baby?

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


There are an awful lot of comments on the internet by ladies who would like to have a no-shoes house, but have an husband who refuses to remove his shoes. I can only recall one comment by a man whose partner was reluctant to comply with a shoes-off policy.

Husbands, can you not see any benefit in having a clean home? If you have to get your carpet cleaned or replaced it will cost you money.

Why be bossed about by your wife? Why not take the initiative and introduce a shoes-off policy in the home yourself. Take some leadership in the household. If you read this blog, you will find plenty of reasons for not wearing shoes at home.

You cannot think that there is anything manly about being worried about getting cold feet?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shoe Blog: Shoes- Should they be worn in the house?

Shoe Blog: Shoes- Should they be worn in the house?

Mail-Online: Shoe Etiquette

Mail-Online: Shoe Etiquette

Mel B ended up having to remove her shoes for a premiere held on a boat at the Venice Film Festival. I think she looks elegant enough without her heels. Remembering that being on a boat = no-shoes is crucial for celebrities.

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.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Lady on GMTV

When I am in the hospital staff room in the morning, GMTV is usually on.

GMTV has a lot of phone-in competitions. Many of these competitions are introduced by a lady who is usually filmed in a rather expensive looking house. This lady is always barefoot.

I have no idea whether this lady is a celebrity or just a pretty face, whether the house is her own or whether it is a no-shoes house (the carpet upstairs is almost white, so it would be sensible), but it is nice to see somebody with shoes-off in a home on television on many mornings. It rather runs counter to the tendency of television to have people in shoes all the time.

Hospitality Part 1


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. 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?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Stuff Christian Culture Likes: Leading worship barefoot

Stuff Christian Culture Likes: Leading worship barefoot

The stuff on this blog might not mean much to those of you who have not grown up with Charismatic Evangelical Christianity, but it is full of the stuff I have been exposed to (some of which I loathe).

Personally I am not into the worship leader and worship band style (though they are at my church), though worshipping barefoot is cool. I often take my flip flops off at church (I have never worn any other kind of shoes at this church, even in winter), and other people at the church often kick their shoes off during the service.

A poem about removing shoes at the door!

Shoe Rack by Monica Sharman

Not a big fan of poetry myself, but this is rather thoughtful.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Just got back

I was in the other part of the country this week in order to take my PhD examination. Horrible experience, but I passed it. Just need to make some changes to my thesis.

I am afraid my PhD thesis has nothing to do with removing shoes in homes, in case you were wondering.

I stayed with some old friends in Worcester after the exam. This couple some times take their shoes and sometimes keep them on. I can't help but take mine off when I am at their place, even when they have their shoes on. It is just seems too weird to keep them on. It would feel totally weird.

You will recall I posted about crocs the other day. The lady of this house mentioned that she wanted to get some crocs. This surpised me because she is a very stylish girl. I have noticed that a lot more teenage girls and younger women are wearing crocs. They seem to be becoming much more accepted (as is removing shoes at the door).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Platt Family: No shoes... Please!

The Platt Family: No shoes... Please!

Do you have a shoes-off policy? Write about it and I can post a link here on this blog.

Being a Patriot

I love this country. For me Britain stands for the monarchy, Protestantism, English cathedrals, fish and chips, Doctor Who and Motorhead.

However, GK Chesterton said that the true patriot is not the man who loves his country because of its greatness, but the man who loves it in spite of its faults.

I love this country, even though it is not the custom here to remove shoes when entering homes. Things are getting better in this regard, but there are still too many people who see no problem with stomping about a carpet in filthy shoes and there are still too many people here who think it is bad manners to ask a guest to remove her shoes.

Because I am a patriot I want to change my country's attitude. I love this country in spite of its fault.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I confess I wear crocs. Fashion police, you may as well come and arrest me now.

I like them. They are comfortable and I think they look alright. I don't understand those people who think crocs are hideous.

I suspect that a lot of the people who wear crocs keep shoe-free homes. Crocs are ideal for them, being easy to remove. They are also totally functional, appealing to people who are not really into wearing shoes much.

I also see a lot of slightly hippyish mothers who look very environmentally aware wearing crocs. Those are exactly the people one would expect to keep no-shoes homes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Somebody went to the trouble of writing a book

Shirley Saunders, a nurse practitioner in the USA went to the trouble of writing a book all about the health risks on the soles of shoes. She has an excellent website:

Welcome to Sole Truth About Those Soles

Renee Zellweger makes people wear hospital booties at her house

Renee Zellweger makes people wear hospital booties at her house

Many of the comments left are very sympathetic to Renee Zellweger's house rule.

Joy to the Home: Why Instituting a “Shoes Off” Policy in Your Home Makes Sense

Joy to the Home: Why Instituting a “Shoes Off” Policy in Your Home Makes Sense

Natural Health- Shoes Off

Natural Health- Shoes Off

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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Sacred

I often listen to Sunday with Roger Bolton on Radio Four, a religious affaird program with an unsurprisingly liberal bias. Today there was a bank holiday special on 'the sacred.'

In some cultures homes are sacred because they contain house spirits. In Hinduism, homes are sometimes considered sacred because of the religious images that are venerated within.

In western culture, we do not consider homes to be sacred in a religious sense, but we do treat them as special. We behave at home in a different way to how we behave in a public place. If you go for a meal at a restaurant, you assert strong preferences about what food you are given and you complain if you are not satisfied; you would never do this if you were invited for a meal in somebody's home.

A common practice across the globe is to demonstrate the 'specialness' of homes is to remove shoes at the door. It demostrates that you have gone from the common outside world to a place worthy of respect.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Comparison with Smoking

I think a valid comparison can be made between asking guests to remove their shoes and asking them not to smoke for three reasons.

1. In asking guests not to smoke or to remove their shoes, you are asking them to observe a boundary.

One is asking the guest to behave differently than they might in their own home.

2. While there are health issues involved in both, the overriding issue is the inconvenience caused by either guests smoking or wearing shoes in the host's home.

If a guest lights a cigarette at a dinner party, nobody is going to die of lung cancer as a result. Likewise, if a guest walks a bit of weed-killer into the carpet, it is unlikely that somebody is going to die (not that one should not be concerned about the health implications of weed-killing being walked into the carpet).

The real issue is the inconvenience caused. Smoking will bring into the house smells that are not appreciated by the host and may result in cigarette ash getting into the carpet or furniture. A non-smoking host will not appreciate this. Likewise, the host will be inconvenienced by guests keeping their shoes on. Carpets and floors may be soiled or damaged.

3. There is a possiblity that the guest's comfort may be impinged by either being asked not to smoke or to remove her shoes.

If guests cannot smoke indoors, they will either have to suffer the craving or go outside in the cold to smoke.

Removing shoes is rather less likely to cause discomfort, but some guests might still be embarassed at being asked to remove their shoes or may be unused to being shoeless in another home. This can of course, be minimized if they are informed of the policy in advance.

Guests might also be embarassed at being asked to follow a 'house rule.' They might feel like they are being treated like children.

However, it is most likely that guests will not be at all bothered and will respect that the host behaves a certain way, whether in not smoking or not wearing shoes in the house.

If it is reasonable to ask guests not to smoke, it is perfectly reasonable to ask guests to take off their shoes.

Friday, August 28, 2009

St. Peter at the house of Cornelius (Gustave Dore)

Cornelius the centurion had a shoes-off rule in his house by the look of it.

He may well have done, but I am cheating. Most of the characters in Dore's Bible illustrations are barefoot, whether indoors or outdoors.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sadly, there is no 'movement'

A shoes-on advocate posted recently:

Plenty of Reasons to Keep MY Shoes On

She used the word movement to describe the shoes-off trend. While it does seem a relatively hot topic on the internet, I don't think there is any movement as such.

If there was such a 'shoes-off movement', this blog would be the best example, but it is pretty unique in solely dealing with this subject. The Apartment Therapy network of blogs, following the wisdom of Martha Stewart, often advocate shoes-off, but they hardly consitute a movement either.

There are a lot of environmentalist blogs that advocate removing shoes. While they might be said to be part of a movement, removing shoes is only peripheral among their concerns (many of which are certainly not shared by this blogger).

Much of the internet support for shoes-off comes from people who just want to keep their carpet clean, protect their hardwood floors or who have been brought up in shoe-removing cultures and who can't understand why anybody would keep their shoes on at home.


I in stalled a stats counter. It turns out 88 people visited this blog yesterday. That is considerably higher than when I previously used a stats counter back in 2007. Back then I was getting about 35-40 at the most.

Thankyou everyone who visits this blog, especially those who support its aims. Please leave comments when you can.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Colleague

I had a new colleague shadowing me today to find out how I run my project.

I asked her if she wore shoes in her apartment or removed them at the door. She said she always removed them and thought wearing shoes indoors was disgusting. She said that in a previous job, she had visited homes and had worn slip-on shoes so as to remove them, often surprising the people she visited by doing this.

This colleague was from Birmingham. I told her I believed that removing shoes was more common here in Hertfordshire and the south-east.

Small Group Meeting

My church small group was meeting last night at somebody's house. The hosts are always shoeless, but they don't ask people to take off their shoes.

A guy who had not been before came in with his shoes on, but he took them off when he saw that those who had so far arrived had removed theirs.

A few of us had removed sandals or flip flops and were in bare feet. In the past I often found that many people removed shoes in winter when visiting homes and wore socks, but people seldom removed sandals to go barefoot in summer. These days I am finding that people do remove their sandals and go barefoot when visiting homes in the summer. I think this is one of the biggest indicators I have seen that habits are changing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tattler Magazine: Off with her.. Shoes!

Tattler Magazine: Off with her.. Shoes!

The author of this post complains because she was asked to remove her shoes before entering the fitting room in a high street fashion store.

I have not heard of this happening outside of Japan, where it is the norm. It is a really sensible idea. Have you ever noticed that the carpets in store changing rooms are never that clean?

People are going to take their shoes off in the fitting room, why not have them remove them before?

Life: Take off your shoes please!

Life: Take off your shoes please!

X- Files episode

Not that it matters much, but there is an episode of the X-Files, Ghost in the Machine, in which Mulder and Scully visit the home of some wealthy IT executive. He asks the two FBI agents to remove their shoes.

I don't think I ever saw this episode, I just found this out reading a copy of the script online. Don't have a video or picture to share.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Into the Fray: House Shoes

Into the Fray: House Shoes

Never Without: stocking feet

Never Without: stocking feet

Czech Security Guard

I was doing a night shift last night at the hospital and had a chat with the Czech security guard.

I told this guy that I thought it was so much better that in the Czech Republic, people always remove their shoes when entering homes.

He replied that when he moved to the UK from then communist Czechslovakia in the seventies, he had followed the custom of removing shoes for many years. He said many British people were surpised at him and asked whether it was a religious custom. However, he had since lapsed after living in Britain for over twenty years.

Will the recent wave of immigrants from eastern europe lapse from the custom of removing shoes as this older immigrant did? I do not think they will. For one thing, there are more of them. Furthermore, unlike the seventies and eighties, it is now common for British people to take off their shoes when visiting homes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Creative Kismet: House slippers for me and my sister

Creative Kismet: House slippers for me and my sister

Its great to read about sensible people who object to shoes being worn in their homes.

Are you a blogger with a shoes-off policy? Post about it and I will put in a link.

Mommy Goes Green: Leave your shoes at the door (please)!

Mommy Goes Green: Leave your shoes at the door (please)!


I am an healthcare professional. I find it weird to think of myself as one, but I won't go there.

I was at a drug service in another town yesterday. There is a lady in the management there who often kicks her heels off and walks about the office in her bare feet. This lady is a serious professional who always dresses very smartly to work. It is quite possible to be smart and professional while going shoeless.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to silently remind guests to remove their shoes


1. Cast your eyes downwards at the guest's feet for a few seconds.

2. Make a faint smile with gritted teeth.

3. Look down at the guest's feet again.

4. When the guest looks down, nod.

This may not to work on first-time guests. This is best for reminding people who already know you don't want shoes in your house.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Occasionally People are Shoeless on T.V.

Last week, a character on Coronation Street was arrested at her own wedding. It appears her shoes were confiscated while she was locked up (Honestly, I don't own a t.v. and I did not watch the episode, except for a clip or two on the website).

It seems to have taken T.V. producers a while to find out that people usually have their shoes taken away when they are nicked. This follows the tendency of television to always show characters with their shoes on.

Now can we please have more characters in the soaps who prefer shoes-off in their homes?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 2


Emma is 33 and in management within a computer game company in London. She is single.

Emma lives a very active lifestyle and enjoys fencing and scuba diving. She also has a vibrant social life, frequently eating out with friends and going to clubs.

Emma has a shoes-off policy in her apartment. When she moved in, she was happy to walk about with her shoes on, but after a complaint from a neighbour below about the noise of her heels on the hardwood floor, she realised she would have to make her home shoe-free.

Naturally, it was necessary for Emma to require this rule of her friends. but many of them also lived in expensive London apartments and had a similar rule. Emma tends to go out to socialise rather than entertain, though she and friends will sometimes have a drink or two at her apartment before going out. When she does have friends over, it tends to be for casual romantic movie watching occasions where shoe removal is pretty unconventional.

Edward and Florence

Edward is in his fifties and owns an organic farm in Herefordshire. He lives with his wife. His two grown-up sons have since moved out of the family home.

Edward served seven years in the air force. He has a passion for all things military and has a huge collection of uniforms and military equipment from the second world war.

He is also keen on politics, being an active member of the UK Independence party. He is convinced that the European Union is a key component of the New World Order that is intent o subjugating Britain. He often hosts UKIP meetings at his farm.

Edward's wife, Florence, is considered by some to be a little eccentric. She has written two books on the subject of fairies. She has a website dedicated to the subject of British folklore. Florence also has a talent for painting and has hosted several exhibitions of her work at the farmhouse.

Edward and Florence have a shoes-off policy in their home.

Anyone who has visited the countryside knows that their is plenty of muck there which nobody would want walked into their carpet. Edward and Florence tend to have lots of visitors and so have been clear that shoes-off is a requirement in their farmhouse. Florence also claims that removing shoes is a way of showing respect to the fairies that inhabit the place, citing traditions from Asia in support of this thesis.

Most of Edward and Florence's visitors are either attending political meetings or viewing Florence's paintings. They are normally informed through the relevant websites that visitors are expected to remove their shoes and are suggested to bring slippers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Go Norway!

Lately I have been listening to Immortal's third album 'Battles in the North' (1995). The thing I love about Immortal is their band photos. They look so serious in their insane outfits! Their album 'At the Heart of Winter' had about five photos of the band in various poses, looking completely straight-faced.

Back in the early nineties, the Norweygian Black metal scene was prety scary, with a number of black metal bands being arrested for church-burnings, then you had Varg Vikernes being jailed for killing Euronymous and Faust from Emperor being jailed for an homophobic murder. Those crazy times are long gone, with the Norweygian black metal scene being firmly focused on the music.

Black metal bands may wear daft make-up and leather costumes, but most of them are pretty ordinary people. Most of them have regular day-jobs and few of them indulge in the drink and drugs excess of other music scenes. I dare say that like other people in Norway, black metal artists remove their shoes at the door of their homes.

I am sure that despite the make-up and silly poses, Immortal are no exception and no doubt go shoeless at home. You certainly would not want to find out what might happen to anyone who brought wet snow into the home of a Norweygian black metaller!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Somebody assumed I was Female

Re-Nest: 37 Reasons to take your shoes off

A while ago, somebody linked to this blog and quoted some of my 37 Reasons why you should have a Shoes-Off Policy in your Home. I do appreciate that, but this person made the mistake of thinking I am female. Not that I mind much and I do use a gender neutral screen name.

Maybe it is the subject matter of this blog. People tend to think of domestic things like houses and cleaning as female. I suppose that is arguably sexist.