It’s the sort of thing you do as a teenager or young romantic, casting off at 3 am the ridiculous footwear your mother told you would ‘throw your back out’ while conveniently forgetting the 5″ stilettos she’d disembarked from herself in fuzzy relief back in the day. You don’t do it in your – what shall we call it – late prime? New (middle) Age? Well ok then, your Saga Holiday years.
I went to our village fete yesterday. This used to be a pretty understated affair; a plant stall, bric a brac, two country dances and off you went with an indeterminate herbaceous specimen wilting in your bag. Fifteen minutes. Job done. But not any more, it’s enormous! Two huge fields full of the miscellany of village life, including the primary school choir belting out 80s hits, a dog agility contest and, bizarrely as we’re nowhere near the capital, two London buses.
Last year, the Volvo Club had lined up a display of vintage motors and they were here again in buffed up splendor but almost eclipsed by the companion ranks of ancient Austin Healeys, MGs, and other beautifully polished artefacts of early 20th century transport. One of these had an equally vintage occupant asleep under his cap in the font seat. As these vehicles had to have got here somehow, they were probably going to be hitting the roads later in the day in anachronistic competition with all the Mondeos, Chelsea Tractors, and 0-120 in five milliseconds BMWs. A restorative nap seemed like a good idea, all things considered.
The weather, given this is Glastonbury weekend when wellies are usually in short supply, was utterly spectacular, leading to the emergency deployment of semi retired footwear. Lovely to look at, not so lovely after several circuits of a pitch the size of a World Cup stadium when a bit of preliminary chafing escalated to an all-out assault on sock-softened heels and delivered a blister.
Blisters are, in the grand scheme of medical emergencies, pretty small beer. They’re the sorts of injuries to be scoffed at by marathon runners, hikers, and abseilers off tall buildings, some of whose chafed areas bear no close consideration or your eyes would water. They’re not credible, you get no Brownie points for them, no kudos, nothing to drop casually into the glory speeches of later years. In fact the only thing that can be said in their favour is that, unlike haemorrhoids, you can at least mention them and people don’t shuffle uncomfortably, possibly in covert sympathy as their own personal collection is enlivened by the reminder, until you shut up and let someone else talk about their altogether less squeamish total splenectomy.
Well, brace yourself, remove small children and people of a nervous disposition from the screen, and adopt a Stiff British (or Multi Cultural) Upper Lip, we’re in skin-off-the-heel territory here. Yes. And I still had to walk home. Hm. I considered removing the one guilty shoe but that would be stoopid, right? Remove both then? Oh dear! How odd it is to be struck suddenly and unexpectedly by a social convention of unknown origin that nevertheless carries an unarguable authority. You see there’s something inherently suspicious about an adult without shoes on a pavement in a built-up area that is nowhere near a beach. So, pain or social ignominy, which was it to be?
Home is not too far, I reasoned, and I’m an adult so I should shut up and put up, get on with it and take it like a Man. I set off. I got about 100 yards. I am not a Man. Off came both shoes and I set off again, picking my way lightly over gravel, skipping across gritty surfaces, and twinkle toeing around uneven patches of paving. Which all worked just fine until I hit the road that had been bathed in several days of unnaturally hot sun. Suddenly the ground was too hot to touch, the paving even hotter, the grassy patches too distant. Put the shoes back on? Unthinkable. Self hypnosis as per hot coals rituals? Untenable, I’m not suggestible even to myself. Only one thing for it then, the Benny Hill Strategy; eye up the route, cue music, and we’re off! Somebody once described my post back injury gardening style as balletic in that I don’t bend and grab to shift prunings so much as plie and glide. They would not have described my transit across the village thus. Nor was it at all athletic, more cartoon cat on hot plate. It wasn’t hugely successful either as I gained two new blisters in the process and spent the evening with feet as elevated as possible in as cool a breeze as I could encourage into the house.
The effect on my pedal extremities rather cramped my Senior Rock Chick Sofa Glastonbury stylee unfortunately but, as is the way with the more mature, the moment will wait in digital suspension on my DVD recorder until I’m ready to frighten the dogs with my smooth moves. Assuming I don’t pick up another injury at this afternoon’s England Germany match.