Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's All About the Shoes

(I made good progress towards the 50,000-word novel for November 30th, so I'm rewarding myself with a quick blog before I go to sleep.  Yes, this is fun for me.)

You know I like shoes.  Especially the really pretty, sexy, expensive kind with ridiculous heels that Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik make so well.  (You know, the kind I can't afford to buy this year, but which I will reward myself with when I have a paycheque again.)  Sometimes even the kind of shoes that I can't actually walk in, but that look oh-so-pretty when I am perching elegantly on a bar stool.

I don't have any shoes like that with me; there's no room in my cool small backpack for the frivolous. But it still comes down to the footwear; this is apparently always going to be an overriding concern in my life.

Take yesterday.  I went for a hike up Arthur's Seat, the ancient extinct volcano in the middle of Edinburgh.  It's a good hike, not particularly steep but lovely, and with some breathtaking views at the top.  Problem is, because it's an ancient volcano, the top is all rock.

Wet, slippery, Scottish rock.  Tricky to navigate in the Blundstones I foolishly wore (instead of my hiking boots) and hard as, er, rock when my footing inevitably gave way and I crashed down a few feet.

No harm done.  Nothing broken, just a bruise or two.  But you can bet I'll worry more about footwear in the future.

The fit young Scottish boys on Arthur's Seat had to worry about their shoes, too.  They weren't just walking up the mountain, they were running up it -- and in some pretty heavy-duty shoes. That must be why they have the legs to wear kilts.

The afternoon had me thinking about footwear, too, as I went into the "Real Mary King's Close" -- now a tourist attraction, never a real street named after any Mary King.  (Pity, really -- it's my grandmother's name.)  It's a small section of the original 17th century "closes" that have been opened to the public, underneath the current city of Edinburgh that was built over top of them.

Back in the 1600's, closes were real, narrow, dark streets where the poorest of the poor lived.  Tenements rose as much as ten stories above the 6-foot width of cobblestones, and little daylight would have filtered down to street level (even on one of Edinburgh's rare sunny days).  Families lived 10 or 12 people to a room, with just a bucket in the corner to take care of those pesky calls of nature.

This bucket could be emptied only twice per day, once at 7 in the morning and once at 10 at night, and the youngest member of the household was relegated the job.  With a loud cry of "Gardy loo!" out would go the family's accumulated raw sewage, to join the filth of their neighbours in running down the close towards the stinking cesspool of Nor' Loch.  (This loch no longer exists -- it was drained, and turned into the Princes Street Gardens.)

Can you imagine what you'd be walking through when you stepped outside your door?  I don't think a pair of Jimmy Choos would cut it.

It's all about the shoes, I tell you.

p.s. Although right now I am not being terribly practical.  It's chilly in here, late on a snowy Inverness night, and I'm wearing flip-flops.

No comments:

Post a Comment