Cooling my heels

shoeIf I do end up in a wheelchair, at least I’ll be able to wear nice shoes again.

Are you shocked? I was, when I realised I’d had that thought. But I was having fond memories of working in Amsterdam in my mid-twenties, and how surprised and delighted I was to be able to walk into any shoe shop and find smart Italian shoes in my size (41) on the shelf – no special order required. Of course, this was the Netherlands, where my 5’10” frame was suddenly average, so of course my shoe size was nothing so unusual either.

I came back to Sydney with a suitcase of lovely footwear, all with eminently manageable heels – nothing too high; I didn’t like stilettos, even before. But enough to raise me over six foot. Pumps, ankle boots, shoe-boots… in plain leather, patent leather, suede leather…

I remember with some affection one particular pair of ankle boots, black suede leather with a leopard-print trim. It was 1990, the early days of Euro-style dance parties in Sydney. Someone would hire The Kirk, an old, bluestone, deconsecrated church in Surry Hills, and fit it out with lights and techno DJs – think Snap, Blackbox, Technotronic – and put the word out. My flatmate and I would dress to kill. She was from Berlin.

Then I moved to Melbourne where it was de rigueur to do the Saturday morning grocery shopping at the Vic Markets in black, suede leather ankle boots with a leopard-print trim…

But even before I was 32 and shifted to Quaama – Blundstone country, or RMs for good – my sore knees (muscle spasms) had put paid to real heels. The pumps, the shoe-boots, all off to Vinnies. A few more years and I was confined to flats. Balance and coordination deficits, you know. Now my favourite shoes are a pair of rubber-soled, burnished red, leather ankle boots in winter, and black ballet flats for summer.

But a pair of tan, zippered, suede ankle boots with a sharp, medium heel caught my eye on Carp Street the other day. And if it comes to it, well… there’s always a bright side, isn’t there?

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