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.

This blog is on a roll

I have posted every day for two weeks. I have neglected this blog at times, but these days I am giving it my full attention.

I have not posted anything on my other blogs for a while. As this blog is unique in the blogsphere, I am concentrating all my blogging energy on it.

Raising Awareness

I was doing my crazy 11 PM- 4 AM shift at the hospital. In the staff room I asked a nurse if he wore shoes in his house. He said that he had done, but he had a new carpet, so he and his wife were now starting to take their shoes off. They also had a hardwood floor in the hallway and were a bit concerned about the effect on it of high heels (good thinking for them, some daft people think hardwood floors will take any amount of punishment).

This nurse was very conscious of the filth that one can pick up on shoes. We both agreed that on a night shift, we were likely to be walking in some really nasty stuff!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Neat Freaks?


It is commonly thought that people who insist on shoes-off in their homes are neat freaks who are obsessed with keeping their homes clean and tidy.

I dare say that there are some people who prefer shoes-off who are genuine neat freaks. And those who are Obsessive-Compulsive about cleanliness may well be among the shoes-off community.

Of course this is culturally relative. In Japan it is thought that money is dirty and unhygeinic because it is handled by untold numbers of people. Japanese people also regard any objects placed in bathrooms, such as books or ornaments to be 'dirty'. A person in a western society who held such attitudes would almost certainly be regarded as Obsessive-Compulsive.

I have known a number of people who really were excessive in their desire to keep their homes clean. Interestingly, these people did not require visitors to remove their shoes. I suspect that they probably spent so much time in cleaning their homes that they were happy to waste time cleaning up afer their visitors.

Many people who keep their homes shoe-free are not domestic goddesses who like nothing better than spending whole days doing spring cleaning. Rather, they are busy working people who have far better things to do. They do not want to clean up for the sake of it, but they know that living in a clean environment is healthier and far more pleasent. Knowing that time is precious they would rather keep the mess to the minimum and spend as little time as possible cleaning up after their visitors. Prevention is better than cure.

Nobody needs a house that is spotless, but it is pointless to allow dirt and dust to accumulate when it could easily be kept out by leaving shoes at the door. A floor is meant to be walked upon, but that does not mean that one should not reduce wear and tear and save time and money.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Swimming Pool Changing Rooms

In some enlightened European countries like Sweden, many swimming pools require that people remove their shoes before entering the changing room area. This makes sense as the damp on the floors makes a nasty mix with the dirt from shoes and people will be bare foot in there. I have heard that this can be awkward for people who want to weat flip flops in the changing rooms for fear of Athelete's Foot.

I remember a holiday in France when I was 16. You were supposed to remove your shoes before going in the shower block at the campsite to avoid mud getting in. Regrettably, I found this irritating at the time and did not always comply.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blue Planet: Go Shoeless Indoors for A Healthier Home

Even if you haven’t been cleaning up after irresponsible renters, when you or your visitors walk inside your home wearing outdoor shoes, you may track in a host of unhealthy substances without even knowing it:

Herbicides and pesticides from neighboring lawns
Antifreeze, tire rubber, hydrocarbons, and even lead from nearby streets
Lead dust and asbestos particles (from remodeling), concrete dust and drywall dust from construction sites
Animal (and sometimes human) urine, feces, and dander, and dead bugs from sidewalks, lawns, and alleys
Overflowed-toilet water and urine from public restrooms
Gasoline, antifreeze, motor oil, and spilled beverages from gas stations

Blue Planet: Go Shoeless Indoors for A Healthier Home

Come Dine with Me

Lately I have seen a t.v. show in the hospital staff room called Come Dine with Me. In this program, pretentious and arrogant people compete in preparing elaborate dinner parties for each other in order to win some prize money. During these dinner parties, they fall out and bitch about the quality of each other's cooking.

In an episode today, a hostess was barefoot and had shoes by the door. She probably did not wear shoes in her home, but had not asked for shoes-off.

Probably, given the arrogance of the people who seem to go on this show, asking the guests to remove their shoes would be a certain way to lose, as the guests score the host.

Probably, being me, I would ask the guests to remove their shoes regardless. And I think I would take great delight in making them play Twister.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Degrees of Offalism

0. All children and adults may keep their shoes on.

1. Small children required to remove shoes, teenagers and adults may keep them on.

2. Children and teenagers required to remove their shoes, adults may keep them on.

3. All family members required to remove their shoes, visitors may keep them on.

4. Family members and close friends asked to remove their shoes, other visitors may keep them on.

5. Family members and visitors normally asked to remove their shoes, but exceptions made for parties and some formal occasions.

6. Family members and visitors are normally required to remove their shoes on all occasions, including parties.

I would say that you only count as having a shoes-off policy if you are at level 5. Level 4 is close, but in my opinion is not really a true shoes-off policy.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Remember that game?

I remember when I was a teenager I used to go to parties and they would get me to play Twister. I used to find the game really irritating.

Twister is one game which must be played in socks or bare feet.

Being a shoe-less game, Twister might seem the perfect accompaniment for a shoe-less party. But is this a good idea?

Being a prudish fundamentalist, I would question whether Twister in mixed-sex adult company is really quite decent, but I will leave the morality of it to one side.

For a low-key, informal party with close friends where shoes-off is expected, Twister would be a perfect game to play.

Nevertheless, some people think removing shoes at a party is really tacky. If you then ask these people to play Twister, they will consider your party to be embarassingly juvenile. While we should make no apology for asking such guests to remove their shoes, it is arguable that we must win them over by the quality of our wine, the delights of our food and the intelligence of our conversation.

On the other hand, you have asked them to remove their shoes and get more intimate. With a few drinks to loosen inhibitions, you could argue that Twister is the logical progression from asking party guests to slip off their shoes.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Eco Women: Take em off!

Eco Women: Take em off!

Beach Trip

I went to Walton-on-the-Naze today with some friends from church. We spent a couple of hours on the beach.

We had a good time, though Walton-on-the-Naze seems trashy and unloved. It appears to be the holiday destination for people who live in Essex council estates.

Although flip flops are my footwear of choice, I am not a beach person. I don't care for sand and I am not sure all the exposed flesh at beaches is altogether decent. But it made a nice change.

Beaches are pretty much shoeless zones. Most people will remove their shoes on the beach and their socks too if they are old fashioned enough to wear them on holiday.

I bet the people who object to being asked to remove their shoes in homes are quite happy to remove their shoes on the beach.

If you are okay being bare foot on the beach, what is the problem with being bare foot in somebody's home?

hr Fashion: How Do You Politely Get People Not To Walk On Your New Carpet With Their Shoes On?

hr Fashion: How Do You Politely Get People Not To Walk On Your New Carpet With Their Shoes On?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another visit to the guy downstairs

I visited my neighbour below yesterday.

He had fixed up some plastic sheeting over the carpet in the area by the door. Not only did it give him space to leave shoes beyond the doormat, but it enable him to bring his bicycle into the apartment and into his closet without messing up the carpet. Smart chap.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A rather obvious answer

"If you are so obsessed with keeping your floor clean, don't invite anybody to your home."

If you are so obsessed with what you are wearing, don't visit anybody's home.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stilettos on Marble Floors

Yesterday in the hospital staff room, Columbo was on the television. The murderess' mansion had a really shiny, impressive marble floor. One of the nurses exclaimed that if she had a house like that with a shiny marble floor, she would never allow anyone in with high-heeled shoes on.

Very sensible. Marble may be easier to clean than carpets, but it can get scratched by high-heeled shoes and it can become worn by the grit that shoes bring in.

A hot humid day

It was a really hot humid day. I noticed an awful lot of people were wearing flip flops.

I sure could have done with my flip flops today. However, I was at the hospital all day and I normally wear either sneakers or crocs there. This day, however, I had a meeting with a senior consultant and my team leader was present. The occasion called for black leather loafers. Not what I want to wear in this weather.

As I have said before, these days a lot of people wear sandals or flip flops. The fact is that people today have their feet exposed a lot. Therefore the vast majority of people are not going to be embarassed if you ask them to remove their shoes in your house. I remember reading a survey in a newspaper that found that only about 10% of people are embarassed about their feet.

Don't worry. People will happily bare their feet in your home if asked.


A nice post with link

My old blogging pal Jodie was nice enough to link to this blog on a recent post on her blog 'Vegans for Palin'.

I wish Jodie sucess in helping Sarah Palin into the White House. I love Sarah Palin- she believes the Bible, she doesen't believe in evolution and she loves guns. What's not to like about her?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ideal Bite: Clear Retreat

Ideal Bite: Clear Retreat

Stop, Drop and Review- What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home

Stop, Drop and Review- What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home

Public Buildings

In Japan, you have to remove your shoes in all kinds of different buildings. It is the same in many other Asian countries and to a rather lesser extent in some cold weather countries like Sweden.

Which public buildings would you feel most comfortable removing your shoes in? Which would you feel most uncomfortable having to remove your shoes in? Here are the options:


University Campus

Swimming Pool (the whole building not just the pool side)


Museums and arts galleries

Local government office

Primary School (as visitor not as a pupil)

Dentist's clinic