Monday, January 31, 2011

Not Always in Slippers


In my opinion, providing slippers for guests is not necessary. If people know the home is shoes-off, they can bring their own slippers and if they have not visited before it is hardly a great endurance to be in socks or bare feet.

Some people insist that providing slippers is a must by pointing out the example of Japan:

In Japan, you are not expected to go bare foot; the host will always give you slippers.

This is actually an half-truth. It is true that hosts will normally provide slippers in Japanese homes. However, these are intended to be worn in the hallway and kitchen. Bedrooms and living rooms normally have tatami (grass mat) flooring. It is expected that one removes slippers and step on the tatami in either stocking or bare feet.

Carpet has become more common in Japan and often it is expected that one removes slippers even before stepping into carpeted rooms.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not seen that for a while

I was in Watford today and saw a couple of assistants dressing a shop window in their stocking feet. I have forgotten what shop it was. Removing shoes to dress shop windows does not seem as common as it used to be.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Housewarming Parties


If you are moving into a new house or apartment and you want to make a clean start and have a no-shoes rule, you have an ideal opportunity to kick it off with an housewarming party.

The best thing to do is to indicate clearly on invitations that you will be requiring shoes-off. That way people will have no surpises. They can bring slippers, wear clean socks with no holes or a floaty skirt that looks great with barefeet (Trinny and Susanah actually recommended that hostesses of dinner parties should wear a long skirt with barefeet or slippers).

Having an housewarming party is such an excellent way to send the message that your new house will be a shoe-free zone. Even those of your friends who do not come will see on the invitation that you want shoes-off.

Requiring shoes-off at a housewarming party sends the message that you are really serious about the rule and that it is not just an exception for a wet winter evening. After all, some people with shoeless homes actually make an exception and allow shoes-on in parties. However, having shoes-off at an housewarming makes it clear that you want the house to stay as it was when you bought it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest post from Sandro

Sandro is a regular visitor to this blog. He lives in Georgia (that is the ancient Christian kingdom in the mountains of the Caucasus incorporated into the Russian empire and after it the Soviet Union; not the Georgia in the USA. Today Georgia is an independent republic with important political and economic ties to the west).

What I really find strange that our museums do not require shoes removed. Yet when I was in Baku as a tourist with my wife, we also visited a number of museums, and our removing shoes was accepted in some of them though made certain fun of in one case. I am talking about apartment museums, i.e. ex-apartments of famous persons in Azerbaijan's history, now the dedicated museums.

Only in of them, a famous local jazz musician's, shoes-off was required. In others, our intention to take our shoes off seemingly shocked the staff, and we were strongly told to leave my shoes on (not surprisingly, the floors were dirty and scratched in those museums) or, if a museum had been renovated, offered extremely uncomfortable (even dangerous), falling down and slippery bags or slippers to put ON shoes. It would have been particularly troubling for my wife, who was wearing high heels (BTW bags cannot protect polished parquet from heels).

In cases with bags/slippers, we were "allowed" to remove our shoes with more or less tolerance or understanding. In one case, we preferred to put the bags on our stockinged feet, which was still not so uncomfortable for us and not so "shocking" for them. We found it was seemingly easier to "control" the bags without shoes rather than through shoes, and not to slide or fall down. This was especially vital for my wife, who was wearing high heels. I think the staff didn't notice we had left our shoes in the lobby.

In the museum of rugs, those on the display are located partly on the floor. The museum provides no slippers or bags, and visitors must stay in their shoes (the floor is parquet rather scratched). However, to see the labels with information, one has to step on the rugs displayed. We repeatedly removed our shoes every time stepping on a rug. We had to put them on to move from rug to rug, from room to room. We would have preferred to keep them off, but didn't want to move dirt from the parquet onto the rugs with our stockinged feet. Nobody from the staff commented our actions. I wonder whether they would have told anything hadn't we taken our shoes off. I hope they would.

Baku is a wonderful city with nice people, who follow the shoes-off policy at homes almost with no exception, but they don't accept the same policy for offices and, which is even harder to understand, for museums.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011



I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Some childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons. Not to mention protecting them from the various harmful materials that shoes can pick up. It is becoming increasingly the case that daycare nurseries and childminders adopt the no-shoes rule.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Smelly Feet


The issue of 'smelly feet' is often raised as an argument against the Shoes-Off rule.

In Western society there seems to be a lot of paranoia about the phenomena of 'smelly feet'. I think this is simply a result of people not removing their shoes very often. Your feet will actually smell a lot less if you remove your shoes regularly. Perhaps in Britain we have not yet reached the civilised heights of Finland, where it is acceptable to remove shoes in business meetings and on trains (not that people do not do so in Britain, but it is not seen as conventional behaviour).

Nevertheless, I think most people worry too much about this issue. People imagine their feet smell far more than they actually do. I have met very few people who let off much of an aroma after removing their shoes, and most of them were people who did not wash and change their socks regularly.

If people know in advance that they need to remove their shoes, they can make sure they wear clean socks, or even better, bring slippers with them. If they are especially worried about it, they can use some of those fancy foot deoderents.

Feet will smell a lot less if people wear sandals. Sneakers tend to smell more than leather shoes, though I will admit I often wear sneakers when not in flip flops or crocs.

Some people will say 'I would rather put up with a dirty floor than people's smelly feet.' Well, I guess people decide on their own priorities. However, stinking feet will leave with the guests. A dirty floor will not. Nor will the dust they brought in on their shoes, and that is very bad for your health.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Colleague Has A Shoes-Off Policy

At the office today we had a really heated discussion about religion, in which I argued for the certainty of the absolute truth of the Christian faith. This was followed by a more light-hearted discussion about the subject of removing my shoes, with reference to my blog.

One of my colleagues revealed that she always removes her shoes when visiting others and expects others to remove their shoes in her home. An older colleague admitted that she usually wore shoes in her home, but said that removing shoes was something that made a lot of sense and that she might give it a go.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Guest Post from Richyrich no.3

(You are welcome to offer non-fictional guest posts. My email address will be supplied on request)

Clare's Story

Clare is a 28 year old secondary school English teacher in south London. She is single and lives alone in a flat that she bought 3 years ago. She paid a high price for the flat and she is heavily mortgaged. Indeed she probably wouldn't have been able to buy it at all if it wasn't for a legacy she received from her late grandmother and help from her middle class parents, both of which paid towards the deposit. However, her mortgage commitments mean that she can't go out socially as often as she'd like and also that she wouldn't be able to afford to replace much in the flat should it be worn out or damaged. Having to pay off her student loan doesn't help either.

After she graduated from University 6 years ago, Clare wasn't sure what she wanted to do in terms of a career, and (being fancy free at the time)she decided to go to Japan for a year to teach English as a second language. Prior to her going there, she wasn't really familiar with shoes off policies. She had heard of a few people who did require visitors to their homes to take their shoes off but both her and her family regarded such people as somewhat eccentric and obsessive.
However when she went to Japan, Clare very soon noticed that people there not only routinely removed their shoes both in their own and in other people's homes but also in many other public places as well. Whilst she willingly complied with the local culture, she still thought it a bit strange at first. However, after some 2 months she got used to the practice and began to see its merits in terms of keeping the place clean as well as comfort.

After returning to the UK, she thought that it was a good idea but as her family were dyed in the wool shoes on people, she continued wearing them indoors. When she moved into her flat things changed. The previous owner had beige carpets installed and although Clare liked them she was worried about keeping them clean, she did think of changing them but knew that that was something she couldn't really afford. Then she had an idea, yes, be like the Japanese and insist on no shoes at her flat. At first she was rather hesitant about asking that of her guests but after a while she explained to them about how they did things in Japan and how clean their homes were as a result. At first her friends were rather surprised but are now coming round.

As I said earlier, Clare hasn't got enough disposable income to go out a great deal at weekends and a lot of her friends are in a similar situation. Therefore they go to each other's homes and have a few drinks and a chat there instead, and maybe go out for a few drinks for last orders. Her friends have now discovered that they feel more relaxed when drinking and chatting in their stockinged feet and have now started adopting the policy in their own homes. Even Clare's parents now remove their shoes at her home without protest. They don't show much sign of adopting it in their own house but they take the attitude of "it's her place and we've got to respect her wishes when we're there".

Although Clare enjoys the single life, she's hoping to meet her "Mr Right" one day but she admits that she's quite choosy, and as well as wanting someone who's kind, decent, intelligent with a sense of humour, she's also listed as one of her preconditions someone who will share her "shoes off" philosophy. She would probably rather be on her own for the rest of her life than compromise on that, it's now such a natural part of her way of life. Also any children she has will be taught to remove their shoes in all houses from when they're very young!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Pre-Raphaelite Proportions


Some women are embarassed by having larger sized feet. They ought not to be. Some of the women in the paintings of Evelyn De Morgan clearly do not have smaller shoe sizes:

Ladies with a larger shoe-size should not be afraid when they remove their shoes; there is nothing wrong with their feet.

Saturday, January 01, 2011



Those of you with cats will know about Toxoplasmosis. It's a nasty parasitic infection that our feline friends get from eating bad meat.

Toxoplasmosis can survive in soil over a year. That means that being careful not to step on cats' mess is not going to make a difference; you cannot see the stuff in the soil.

Toxoplasmosis that is brought into the house and onto your floor can infect small children. This can lead to fever, pneumonia and damaged vision.

Just insist on all shoes being removed at your door. It's not rocket science.