Friday, May 28, 2010

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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Telegraph: Regime Change brings salad days at No.10

Telegraph: Regime Change brings salad days at No.10

Apparently, Steve Hilton, Conservative party chief strategist, is working at the prime minister's residence with his shoes off. Apparently this would be unheard of under the previous government.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Encourage but not insist?


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

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

We take our shoes off here.

You might like to take your shoes off.

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garma On Health: Get Clean, Breathe Clean — Remove Your Shoes

Garma On Health: Get Clean, Breathe Clean — Remove Your Shoes

Shoes Still Need To Come Off in Summer


Some people may be of the opinion that shoes-off in homes is a good idea in the damp of winter, but is quite unnecessary in summer, except when it rains (which it certainly does here in the UK).

However, on the contrary I maintain that shoes ought to be removed even in summer.

It is true that the weather is drier in summer,so there is less chance of bringing damp or mud into the house. However, in summer, shoes will still pick up small particles of grit. These particles gradually wear out carpets.

If you have laminate or wood floors, there is still the risk of making scratches (watch out with those high-heeled sandals, ladies) or leaving marks (why do you think you are expected to wear deck shoes or go barefoot on a yacht?).

Dust is still a problem in summer. Dust is not good for your health or your children's health and the less of it in your house, the better. There is likely to be even more dust in summer, as the ground dries up and cracks.

Dog dirt is still a problem in summer. In winter, many people will walk their dogs to the minimum that is necessary. In summer, people will be spending longer outisde with their dogs, increasing the risk of fouling up. Dog dirt is extremely unhealthy stuff. Not good for crawling babies. You may try to avoid stepping in it, but your shoes will still pick up small traces and then grind them into the carpet if you do not take them off.

There is also pollen, which is only a problem in summer. Your shoes will pick up lots of the stuff. If you suffer from Hayfever or you live with Hayfever sufferers, I recommend having a shoes-off policy in summer.

Of course, on a hot summer's day, nobody ought to mind taking their shoes off!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 5


Steve is in his thirties and works as a probation officer. Five years ago his wife died of cancer, leaving him with four young children to bring up on his own.

Losing the love of his life felt like a deathblow, but knowing his responsibility as a father helped pull him through, as well as the comfort of friends and family.

Juggling a busy job with being a single parent has proved quite a challenge. Thankfully, some of his relatives have lived close enough to help out at times.

Steve has a shoes-off policy in his home.

He has never been fastidious about cleanliness or wanted to live in a museum, but as a father he does not want his children to grow up in a pigsty. Even with the children helping out with household chores, keeping the place clean is a mammoth task. He therefore decided that it was not asking very much to expect anybody entering his home to remove their shoes.

Steve does not hold many dinner parties, but his children often bring along their friends. His children always make sure to let visiting friends know about the no-shoes rule.

In the last three years, Steve has dated a couple of lady friends. Neither of them minded about removing their shoes, but they were a little more daunted about becoming stepmothers to four children!


Dorothy is in her sixties and is the headmistress of a small school in a village in Kent.

She lives in a cottage and rides to a parish church of Anglo-Catholic churchmanship on her bicycle. She is very active in village life and is member of the local branch of the Women's Institute.

Dorothy has never been married. She had never cared much for any of the men she has met in her life. She had been engaged once to a Frenchman, but she was jilted before reaching the altar.

She admits that she is of the old school of English spinsterhood and takes on the role with much panache.

Dorothy has a shoes-off policy in her home.

She decided to make her cottage a shoe-free zone sixteen years ago. She found too many of her friends were calling on her after walking in the fields nearby. Far be it for Dorothy to live in a house without spotless carpets. Not all of her friends were enthused, but the vicar's wife was very impressed at the efficency created by the policy and introduced it at the vicarage; a home that received far more visitors.

Dorothy has two sister and two brothers, all of whom are married and so frequent visits from nephews and nieces, some of whom have had their own children. Her siblings and in-laws sometimes sneer under their breath about her being a 'fussy old maid', but she takes this as a compliment.

The nieces and nephews are perfectly happy removing their shoes when visiting Dorothy. She is their favorite aunt; rather stern, but always passionate and fun.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

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 could still ask visitors to remove their shoes if you were too lend them 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, May 10, 2010

No Excuse

In the hospital staff room, some nurses and I were watching a talk show. The hostess had propped up her feet on the sofa with her high heeled shoes still on. I said:

'She's got her shoes on the sofa. That's very bad behaviour.'

One of the nurses replied:

'It's her show. She can do what she likes.'

That's no excuse in my book.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Suzi Quatro

If you are keeping a list of celebrities who have had a shoes-off policy, you can put American singer-song writer Suzi Quatro on it.

I had never heard of her, but she had a series of hit singles in the 1970s and played a part in the American sitcom, Happy Days.

Visit from my parents

My parents visited my apartment today. They were very good and removed their shoes before coming in. It is not necessarilly the way they do things, but they respect my house rule.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Somehow I have to make this post about removing shoes...

I am naturally feeling pleased about the election results. Although the Conservatives did not gain an overall majority, we are now the largest party in parliament. Having campaigned for my local candidate in Stevenage, Stephen McPartland, I was delighted by his success.

This is not a political blog, or even a personal diary blog, so I have to find some kind of link to removing shoes in homes.

Okay, those of you who advocate removing shoes for environmental concerns will be pleased by the success of Caroline Lucas, who is now the first Green Party member of parliament in Britain. You may also be pleased to hear about the success of Zac Goldsmith, the millionaire environmentalist, who stood as Conservative candidate in Richmond Park.

Speaking of Zac Goldsmith, his sister, Jemima Khan had a front row seat at the count. Both the Daily Mail and the BBC reporter mentioned her removing her shoes during the count. I suppose its not classic etiquette, but if you are up all night its only natural to want to get comfortable.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Mamaguru: Please, No Shoes

Mamaguru: Please, No Shoes

'If you have a baby at home, you know two things: they spend most of their waking lives on the floor and their hands are constantly in their mouths. Even the best housekeeper can’t elmimnate these germs if they are brought in with every step you take.

As disgusting as this problem is, the solution is simple and obvious. Embrace the no-shoes home. Make a point to remove your shoes right at the front door and ask your guests to do so too. If they hesitate, you can always inform them of the scary facts you have just learned.'

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

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.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Mumsnet Discussions: Am I being unreasonable to not want people to wear shoes over my lovely oak floor?

Mumsnet Discussions: to not want people to wear shoes over my lovely oak floor?

Some fierce discussion on the British Musmnet forum.

The current election is sometimes described as the 'Mumsnet election' because of the eagerness of the party leaders to woo Mumsnet users. It was encouraging to read a contributor on this discussion claim that Dave Cameron, the Conservative leader removed his shoes when visiting her house.

The Poop: Hey, Buddy, Off With Your Shoes!

The Poop: Hey, Buddy, Off With Your Shoes!

by Mike Adamick

The author was nice enough to link here.