Heels v Flats, Glamour v Life

I'd like to deviate from the usual Library discussions, if I may. I'd like to chat about shoes. I know not everybody has an obsession with shoes, but there are Things That Need To Be Said.

Let's begin. What was going on with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, her bodyguard and those shoes the other day???

For those of you outside of Australia who missed it, our prime minister was suddenly caught in a potentially 'dangerous' situation during an Australia Day protest in the nation's capital this week. (I've used quotation marks because Canberra's hardly a dangerous place, is it? I mean, it's not Kabul.) Fearing her safety, her extraordinarily good-looking security guy – a guy who looked like he should have been in CSI New York  – grabbed the PM in a Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston/Bodyguard-style clench and LIFTED her off her feet! The security guy, who had the rather un-CSI name of Humphrey, then CARRIED the PM through the fracas and into a waiting car. Have a look at the image that was splashed all over the papers this week...

Now I don't know about you, but I think they look a little... friendly? In fact,  I think Ms Julia Gillard looks HAPPY to be Humphrey's arms? If the police weren't behind them, I'd think they were on their way to the Moonlight Cinema for a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Here's a closer shot.

What the media focused on the most, though, was not the complexion, the jawline or the pecs of this glaringly handsome gentleman, or even the danger the PM might have been in (what? a grope?), but the fact that poor Jules LOST HER SHOE! Yes, that's what we care about in this country, my dear readers. SHOES.

So now we get to the point. Jules' lost shoe was a wedge heel. Suede. Navy. Rather nice, actually.

But forget the fact that it was lost. What this shoe showed was that Jules is a smart woman. 'Cos wedges are comfortable. They come off easily when you're lifted into the air by a man called Humphrey.  Although I would have preferred to have seen her do a little Humphrey huggin' in these navy polka dot numbers:

Finding stylish but comfortable shoes is a lifelong problem for most women. I've spent 20 years trying to search for The Perfect Shoe. The Perfect FLAT shoe. Because heels don't cut it when you're travelling. (Or running countries, for that matter, as Julia might attest to.) Ballet flats were in for a while, but even they had their issues, namely lack of support and an awkward fit.  (I once spent a week in Paris wearing ballets. Every night I'd come home from racing around the city on photo shoots and sit in the bottom of the hotel shower, tearfully wiping the blood and blisters from my swollen ankles. )

The thing is, it's so important to wear comfortable shoes! Our ankles can't take 5-inch heels once we pass 40 years of age. My feet have had 20 years of 5-inch heels. They're now crying out for flats. But do you think I can find stylish ones? I'd have a better chance of doing the deed with Humphrey!

This is a selection of the high heels I used to wear to work:

Then I became a freelance writer and photographer. This is a selection of the shoes I wore for a number of years while travelling and lugging suitcases and cameras around the world:

Now I'm a stay-at-home author. Who gardens. And renovates. And walks the dogs. What do you think I wear most of the time now?

Yes, that's right – wellies. I love them. Loooove them.  And these Joules ones especially. They're cheaper and prettier than Hunters, they look good with jeans or jodhpurs and you can toss them on when you're going to the shops without fearing that you'll be pulled over by the Aesthetically Correct Squad.

But there's a problem. You can wear wellies – or their urban counterpart, boots – when it's winter, but when it's summer you need another option. And flip flops are not really acceptable, not when you're going to an appointment, meeting a friend, going out for dinner or boarding a plane.

So this is my question. Why, when there are 7 billion or so people in the world, can we not design a shoe that is low-heeled, comfortable, easy on the feet, and STYLISH???


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