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Blog post – Walking in Heels

I’ve never been able to walk in high heels. Rarely does the powerful click clack of sex and glamour resonate in my wake. I can’t even cope with a kitten.

Of course I tried that kind of femininity on for size for a period in my youth, as most of us do. There’s that right of passage, the first time we sneak into our mother’s wardrobe and trial our little feet in those giant, cartoonish courts. We realise right then how uncomfortable they are, but for some reason we persevere. I gave heels another go in my late teens – I’d managed to conquer a pair of sky-high bright white trainer-wedges, a la The Spice Girls, the previous year. So, I had high hopes. But of course, we all know wedges don’t count as a true heel, and my trainers were certainly not a true test of my walking ability. After wearing a pair of not-even-that-high sandals from Select for my 18th birthday jaunt to Pizza Hut, the next morning I vowed never to wear heels again.

I just can’t seem to physically master them. I read a hilarious piece in The Telegraph about a journalist – struck with the same affliction – who was sent to some terrifying woman’s class on how to walk in heels. I mean, there’s a class in everything isn’t there. This woman apparently wore high (high) heels all the time. Everywhere. Well, obviously she’s insane. And no doubt now riddled with back problems. Anyway, it made me wonder if a class of that ilk would have any impact on me. But I fear it would be futile.

In theory I should have the genetic equipment to walk in heels quite competently. My sister owns more than 200 pair of shoes. Yes, 200. They consumed our verandah in a slow painful suffocation, before spreading their chaos throughout the rest of the house. She used to go to work in them. The library. The dentist. She’d never consider going on a night out in a pair of flats. Heels are just in her psyche. And she didn’t need any pricey training sessions to show her how to walk. Here’s a flesh and blood relative who can function normally – glamorously – in a pair of stilettos. Surely I can follow in her footsteps?

But whenever I try I just look like Tina Turner gone wrong. And nothing works – plasters, gel cushions, only walking on carpets, being drunk – I’ve tried them all. Unfortunately I can’t afford to pay someone to walk around with a carpet in front of me all the time. So I have to ask myself, is it that I can’t walk in high heels? Or that I won’t?

I was reminded of this little failure of mine the other week, when I started reading a book said sister lent me: How to be Parisian. There was a line in it that touched a nerve, “What you won’t find in the Parisienne’s closet – three-inch heels. Why live life halfway?”

Well – what’s wrong with being comfortable? And not just in shoes – in your own skin?

It pains me to admit that I’m actually bothered that I can’t strut to the shops – how ridiculous, it’s just a pair of shoes after all. But that’s the thing, it’s not about the actual shoes – a heel represents much more. Sex! Power! Glamour! That’s what a pair of heels screams. Then there’s me, plodding along in my Clarkes boots and coming up short (literally). All in all it makes me feel rather inadequate, like I’m missing a major string in my bow. Killer heels are weaponry in a girl’s arsenal. -whether that’s power in attracting a mate (because that’s what heels are designed to do when it comes down to it – display your childbearing hips). Or whether it’s power in securing a high-flying job (assuming most high-flying jobs are male dominated and you’ve got to try and attract one with your childbearing hips…)

And then of course there are the rest of us, apparently not in high-flying jobs or a bearer of children, jealous spinsters unable to master the skill of walking. And we think, well actually it’s all very well looking especially lengthy-of-leg and being tall enough to look boardroom suits in the eye, but – aren’t you a bit of a slave to that shoe? That’s a friendly torture device you’re strapped into there. And you’re endorsing it. Suffering. You are in actual pain.

Of course, I’m being way too serious here (that’s flat heel wearers for you). I agree, I could accurately be accused of taking the fun right out of shoes. Because I can see that they are a bit of fun for a lot of people. They make us look good. They give us confidence, even if that confidence is based around men and hurts us in the process.

I’d much rather be comfortable. As long as I’m not getting too comfortable… Maybe I’ll sneak into my sister’s wardrobe the next time I see her, try walking in her shoes for a moment or two.

While all are bandying about condolences for celebrities they’ve never met, I’m going to disengage, trivialise and get my hair cut. Whilst enjoying a sex book.

I haven’t been to a hairdressers (or is it a salon?) for eight years. It’s crazy how prohibitively expensive a hair cut actually costs (that’s not the reason for the 8-year avoidance).

Bonkers really. Considering it’s only going to grow back. And I’m obviously not going to be able to re-create the drama and pizazz of my new hair once I get home. I have neither the skills nor the interest.

Why do we all buy into this myth that getting our hair cut is relaxing, fun even? It is obviously not, for many reasons:
1) You have to wash your hair before you go, only to have it immediately re-washed
2) You are obliged to make tedious, painful conversation with a total stranger for at least one hour. Neither party is interested in what the other has to say. Total Victorian-like charade, which takes a great deal of effort for no reason other than ‘preventing’ social awkwardness. Hmm…
3) You have to look at yourself in the mirror relentlessly for at least one hour, watching your face make weird expressions in the attempt to avoid it settling into your natural resting face. This is physical exercise.
4)You have to fork out a shed load of money to endure all of the above

scissors edited

Anyway, despite all this I couldn’t put it off any longer (my hair had started to resemble a big sad curtain), and so pounced on the nearest Regis before I changed my mind. Such spontaneity isn’t very like me, and consequently I spent the whole time paranoid about leaving the laptop running at home, plagued with visions of it blowing up and burning the flat down.

The relief of surviving the hairdressers and safely exiting with new hair lasted all of four seconds – I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the weather is all over the place at the moment… and so was my hair.

There, I managed a brief four seconds of satisfaction. As is life.

At least when I got home the flat had not, in fact, burned down. And I could continue to distract myself from the general mood of death by carrying on with my sex book, “The Poetry of Sex.

NOT a sex book in the vein of Fifty Shades blah blah blah – rather, a collection of poems on the subject of sex in it’s many, varied forms, edited by Sophie Hannah, herself a poet and crime novelist.

Stand-outs were pieces from Whitman and Auden (as you’d expect); “I Sing The Body Electric” and “The Platonic Blow (A Day For A Lay)”, respectively. There were a couple of interesting poems on observations of sex-workers from Fiona Pitt-Kethley (who is apparently very much into feral cats, in a big way. Spanish ones.)

Most poems in this collection were humorous, which I liked. It made for a quick, pacey read. However the organisation of the works I found to be very chaotic. And I certainly didn’t find it as ‘raunchy’ as was intended by the editor. Although I have recently read Catherine Millet’s “The Sexual Life of Catharine M”…

Some that were included…well, I’m really not sure why they were included – I counted five that were downright awful, and strangely misogynist compared with the feel of the collection as a whole.

But you can’t please everyone!

Overall I enjoyed the frivolous escapism offered by this frothy coffee of a read.

Right, on that note off to bed, early, with my new flat-yet-at-same-time-frizzy hair.

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