Alex James

Slow Life | 18 April 2009

Feet first

Possibly, the shoe was where it all started to go wrong for us as a species. Possibly, I say, the shoe represents the end of paradise. Possibly, we donned our size 12s and stomped right out of Eden. There we’d been, running barefoot through the trees with the sun on our faces, reconnecting with mother earth at every stride, a part of it all, part of a vast system that fitted us perfectly, until that very moment we stepped out of the invisible glove, out of the sensual world and into our shoes. Certainly, I’m happiest in bare feet, with nothing in my pockets. I mean, kick off your shoes and empty your pockets and you’re on holiday, back in a jungle where nothing can happen except nice things and dreams.

I tell you this because I had to buy some shoes this week and it was irritating me. I had other things on my mind, other fish to fry, which is the way it should be and the way I like it. I get excited quite easily but not often about shoes. My wife, on the other hand, would buy shoes for fun, at any opportunity. She usually buys all the shoes in our house. I suppose that’s one of the great things about marriage, playing to each other’s strengths. Since we moved to the country I have started to enjoy buying things at places where you have to add the VAT on to the marked price. So I’m the one who gets to buy all the concrete and fence posts.

My friend, who lived in a castle surrounded by thousands of acres of Eden-like paradise, giving him a perspective wide enough to be able to focus on matters of high order, once advised me to spend as much as I could afford on a good pair of shoes and a good bed because, as he said, if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.

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