Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cancer Slayer: No Shoes In The House

Cancer Slayer: No Shoes In The House

'Now, it grosses me out to think of what I may be bringing home, something many before me must’ve considered before banning footwear in their houses, too — people like my sometimes employer, domestic goddess Martha Stewart (not to mention the millions of folks who live in parts of East Asia). I’m a little late to the game, I know. But now I get it.

And I’m going to make Martha proud. Near my front door, I plan to set up a boot tray for shoes. And next to it will be a pretty swing-handle basket filled with fresh slippers for all my guests.'

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egyptian Gods


Following the post 'Elegantly Barefoot,' 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 did star Charlton Heston.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daily Telegraph: Homeowner's victory in compensation fight over 'cowboy' builder accident

Daily Telegraph: Homeowner's victory in compensation fight over 'cowboy' builder accident

I am glad the lady won this case. An Englishman's home is his castle and we have the right to refuse access to our homes if we want. Still, if she wanted to protect her carpet she could have asked him to remove his boots while walking through the house. Shame they did not reach that compromise for whatever reason.

Elegantly Barefoot


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 possessing 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:

Sunday, September 19, 2010



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 buildings 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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



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 send a signal that it is okay for those who do.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"It's Better With Your Shoes Off" by Anne Cleveland (1955)

In 1955, Anne Cleveland wrote a classic comic book about life in Japan from an American perspective. The books illustrates the life of an expatriate couple, Mr and Mrs West who are in semi-permanent residence in Japan. An amusingly satirical work, this book introduced Japanese culture to many who knew nothing of the country.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Foreign or Exotic?

Shappi Khorsandi, a female British-Iranian stand-up comic says that "Exotic means the same thing as foreign, except you don't dislike it."

Exotic conjures up images of the far east or the New World. It is exciting colourful, sensuous and maybe a bit sexy. Foreign means something from another culture, but the word somehow lacks the exciting emotive power of the other word.

I am convinced that the English pronounce the word 'foreign' with a certain acidity. When we say the word 'foreign', there is a slight tightening of the mouth and a subtle narrowing of the eyes.

I have mentioned before about the different reactions of British and Americans to shoe removal in Scandinavia and the Far East. Expatriates in Japan and other Asian countries usually love removing their shoes and often bring the custom back, while many expatriates in Scandinavian countries find it really irritating. I suspect that the exotic/ foreign distinction at work.

When a tourist in Thailand has to go barefoot in restaurants and guest houses in Thailand, it is exotic. It is a taste of the colourful and sensuous east. On the other hand, when the same person is on a business trip to Norway and his Norwegian business partner makes him walk about the house in socks, it is foreign. Just like all the other foreign things he hates like undercooked steaks in French restaurants, bossy German policemen, overpriced everything in tourist areas and disdainful Italian waitresses.

Foreign is different, but it has a familiarity to it. Shoes-off in Japan reflects the beautiful alienness of that whole culture, shoes-off in Sweden just reminds you of those irritating fussy people back home (like me) who make you take your shoes-off to protect their carpets.

Nevertheless, we have to challenge our prejudices. We may find that steaks served very rare can be pleasently different. We may find that Germans do have a sense of humour and those Italian waitresses are quite pretty even if they think you don't deserve to be in their restaurant. And you may find that even if Nordic people are fussy about their floors, it actually makes a lot of sense taking shoes off.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

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.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Odd Logic

Some people say that if you ask guests to take their shoes off you are implying that your floor is more important than your guests.

By the same logic, if a gym asks you to wear white-soled tennis shoes in their squash court that means that the gym values its floor more than its customers (and the fees they pay!).

Friday, September 03, 2010

Kate Gosselin

According to a fan site, an American television personality I had never heard of called Kate Gosselin has a shoes-off policy in her home. Good for her.


It was only last month that the International Court of Justice ruled that the Kosovan declaration of independence from Serbia did not breach international law. Many countries have not recognised the sovereignty of Kosovo, but this ruling by the International Court of Justice will probably lead to more countries doing so.

I am not entirely sure what my opinion is on the subject. It is easy to sympathize with the ethnic Albanian Kosovars who want independence. On the other hand, what about the large ethnic Serbian minority? Will their rights be respected in the new Kosovar nation?

Evangelical Protestants in Kosovo are mostly from an ethnic Albanian and converted from a Muslim background, so tend to be strongly pro-independence. The danger for them is that they exclude the Serbian minority.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Kosovar independence, I want to remind the ethnic Serbians and ethnic Albanian Kosovars that one thing they have in common is the custom of removing shoes in homes. It is a small thing, but maybe the small things in life that unite us are as important as the big things that divide us.