Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Bloody Shoes, Stupid Bags

What follows is a somewhat random list of clothing-related issues that I currently harbour. You may well find the items discussed utterly trivial, but I can assure you that they occupy a disproportionate slice of my brain pie, displacing to a large degree my former encyclopaedic knowledge of Sgt Fury And His Howling Commandos. For example, as a result of learning the word pashmina, I can no longer recall the name of the Bavarian strongman from Baron Strucker’s Blitzkrieg Squad. Tch. If you take anything away from this, it will probably be that I am a rubbish girl. Anyways…

The blood price of shoes

In the old days, I lived mainly in trainers, or comfy lace-up shoes of the Clark’s variety. My time spent in heels was sporadic and fleeting, usually the odd evening party, so I had little experience of long term lady-shoe wearage. That has changed.

I am now the proud owner of two deformed little toes (currently assuming the form of tiny root vegetables shyly hiding under the bigger toes), and a heavily blistered right heel, courtesy of two year’s of solid pointy-shoe abuse. Never before has my wide-footedness been so painfully apparent as when I try to get through a day of wearing new work shoes without ending up limping the half-mile walk home from the train like that bit in Die Hard when John McClean has to walk across the broken glass.

My current chaussures de choix are a pair of dull-but-acceptable black pumps, of the flat and flimsy genus. Specially chosen from the mutant-flipper section of a SimplyBe catalogue, they look nice, go with anything, and have managed to rub my heel to a bloody mess within two days. My own fault really – I’d failed to adhere rigidly to this important rule- never wear new shoes two days running. In fact I’m going to modify that to only wear new shoes one day in five. That allows just enough time for my beleaguered footsie to regenerate before subjecting it to the cruellest of shoes all over again.

The problem is this – my right foot is substantially larger than my left, so any pair of matching shoes is bound to result in pain for the right or unacceptable looseness on the left. Something I never noticed with trainers, or socks. I’m not saying my right foot’s monstrously swollen, like the Elephant Man or one of those poor, vast women you occasionally see waddling down the street with a curiously lateral rocking motion. But it is bigger – probably just enough to doom me to walk around in circles should I ever find myself downed in a trackless desert, à la The Flight Of The Phoenix.

But I digress. What I’m driving at here is that, unlike any other item of clothing, the acquiring of new shoes carries with it for me an inevitable period of suffering. I certainly can’t remember the last time a new top cut into my ribs, or a pair of gloves induced spontaneous stigmata in my palms. But shoes, bloody shoes… the inside of my right pump is literally stained red from my ill-advised overwearing incident, a grim reminder of the blood-price I pay for pretty plates.

The irony is that they now fit very nicely thank you, so the pumps can now function as my primary comfy shoes while I slowly and painfully initiate a particularly stiff pair of new heels (like a brace of size seven faux-snakeskin vampires, they hunger insatiably for my footblood). What really galls me is that I know from experience that this golden summer of love between me and my pumps is fated to last but a short while, before they a) continue to stretch to the point that I actually walk out of them, probably while crossing a busy road, and b) start to fall to bits like the crummy pieces of sweatshoppery that they are. Oh for a pair of helpful elves to stitch me a proper pair of shoes overnight.

The rubbishness of handbags

Here’s the thing about handbags – they promise more than they can deliver.

Unsurprisingly, they’re definitely a case of form over substance, unlike say, the trusty but unfashionable rucksack. To wit – I’ve gone through three bags in two years for the simple reason that none of them are up to the task of carrying the number of items I deem absolutely necessary to my daily operations. Not a one has lasted more than six months before developing a serious rent in one compartment or another, usually whichever section I’ve chosen to contain my house-keys, which appear to have the cutting capacity of a small hacksaw.

I ask you, is it too much to find a decent bag with the following specifications?

• Shoulder strap – essential for hands-free bag supportage when rooting around for house-keys outside front door in driving rain.
• External stretchy pouch for brolly, so as not to make rest of bag contents damp.
• Matching external stretchy pouch for hairbrush – required at a moment’s notice.
• External sealable pocket for regularly-used items like train ticket, oyster card and ID badge (material to be thin enough that oyster card and ID badge can be waved against electronic readers without removing from pocket).
• Separate area for medical supplies – inhaler, Rennies, anti-histamines, plaster for wounded heel.
• Area for bare essential make-up – inevitably doomed to become saturated with loose powder, so must be kept separate. Accept that at some point the caps will come off eyeliner pencils and daub the interior with deep chocolaty smudges.
• Area for ever-growing collection of business cards – salons, drycleaners, garage, dentist, home-made cakes, maker of replica Judge Dredd badges. Can be combined with area for post-its, ever-blunt pencil, crappy pen stolen from Waldorf-Astoria, notebook depressingly empty of preparatory notes on Great Work.
• Large central section for general objects – tissues (minimum three to get through a sniffy train journey), current reading-on-train book, over-stuffed purse, personalised Swiss-army knife, sunglasses for concealing nazi-blue eyes from the sun.
• Mobile-phone-shaped mobile phone area – deep and snug enough so that bloody phone doesn’t immediately slip out and disappear under tissues.
• Secure zipped up bit for vital things – keys, memory sticks, portable screwdriver kit, six-sided dice, more keys.

Is that too much to ask? Is it? Apparently it is. Or rather it’s too much to ask for such a bag to last more than six months without falling to bits. My last but one bag saw out its final days held together on the inside by gaffer tape, but shhh – don’t tell anyone.

OK, that’s enough for now, but just to whet your appetite, here’s a run-down of future appearance-based issues I really need to address:

• What I don’t know about hair
• Clothes and what they’re called
• My one long arm
• One-day tights and the three-use rule
• Why I miss the 80’s
• My friend the waistcoat
• Fat-necked scarf girl
• Lovely stupid nails
• Evil shop dummies
• Trinny and Susannah
• The infinity jeans
• Smelly boots
• Why I can never wear a jacket again
• That make-up on the train thing


Maisie said...

Here is your girl card, although one more film reference and I'm taking it back.

Anonymous said...

Siegfried Farber (although I had to look it up).

The Chocolate Ocelot said...

Ach, naturlich. Vielendank.

Tony John Cooke said...

I think no one knows what all clothes are called. I think if there ever was a real census taken it would be like Kew Garden's Botany list and we'd realize we actually have much fewer types than we all thought.

I also hear many recommendations for "party feet".

And pray why can't you wear a jacket? at Venice in your naval outfit,in the jacket you looked very D&G with your scarf and Jackie O's, a couple of little tweeks it would make an extremely passable early year fashion forward look; especially around London, and the best thing about nautical stuff is that its ALWAYS in fashion every early spring or certainly its never out of fashion.

The Chocolate Ocelot said...

Gawd bless you, m'dear. You're right, the naval jacket is indeed fine; being hand-made for £xxx it bloody well should be.

But off-the-peg jackets have gots to fit me around the shoulders proper-like, else I look like a power-dressing Dynasty-obsessed drag queen. Keeley Hawes can get away with it in Ashes To Ashes, but me..?

Skinny scarves are an old-favourite, harking back to the old Adam's apple days. And what's not to love about the big dark glasses - they're aryan-eye protection and fashionable hairband all in one. Fabulous darling.