I had quite a big and important meeting at work this week.Managers from afar making the journey up tor and cross moorland to find us and claim us as their own.
I'm part of a small locality team of just six health visitors so when we have big important meetings there's not much chance of being able to sneak into the back row and keep your head down...not that I can ever keep my mouth shut at these big important meetings anyway.
The NHS is going through its biggest round of changes since, well its last round of changes and the impact eventually makes its way down to the grass roots no matter how much you try and avoid it.This meeting was a three-line-cancel-all-clinics-commit-to-attending-whip affair and I had really meant to brush up on the salient points of Every Child Matters and the National Service Framework for Children and Young People and the latest on Social Inclusion (Cabinet Office document chapter four) beforehand.
The problem was that a whole load of books had arrived in the post and so the night before, I'm ashamed to say, I was far more engrossed in I Want Those Shoes by Paola Jacobbi.
This came as a thank you from the wonderful House of Anansi Press in Canada in return for answering a questionnaire, and good on them for honouring those of us who responded from overseas.
I warmed to the cover for a start, cocoa-eau-de-nil is my current favourite colour combination but I opened it and everything I've known all my life was immediately set out before me.
"This book is dedicated to women, who understand.
And also to men who don't.
But who, in the end, grow to appreciate"
Swiftly followed by this
"The madness of women
That need for shoes
That will hear no reason.
What do millions matter
When in exchange you have shoes"
Paola Jacobbi proceeds to dissect and explore this addiction with all the grace of a true shoe-aholic.
"They can cost a fortune, yet while money itself does not bring happiness, money spent on a pair of new shoes can bring exaltation...whether you're fat or thin, short or tall, beautiful or ugly, the shoes your heart desires will fit you like a charm"
The chapter headings tell you it all, this is a very funny, extremely perceptive must have book
Moccasino Comodino (The Comfortable Loafer...for the woman who has her head screwed on right and plenty to get done)
The Imelda Syndrome (...Imeldistas are rarely happy people, at least with their shoe collection)
The Point of Life (...the pointed shoe has the attraction of a forbidden game)
Women in Boots (...it is said that it was partly thanks to a pair of boots that Joan of Arc ended up burnt at the stake)
The Pump and the Eternal Illusion of Being Audrey (...pumps are the shoe equivalent of the white shirt)
Globalization and the Crisis in the Western Slipper (...just the word itself - "slipper" - is a downer)
Rain:A Divine Punishment (...remaining elegant in snow or rain is a virtual impossibility)
The Mysterious Magic of Red Shoes ( a chapter of their own)
But the chapter that had me in a state of all-out hysterics was this one
A Brief Course in Self-Esteem (About the Length of a Shoe Strap) and this is specifically about Mary Janes. Now if I ever wear these I do feel about 6 years old and very inferior, I've got small feet too which just adds to that child-like look so I don't wear them but now I know why,
"To wear the Mary Jane you need to have highly developed self-esteem.They're for confident women, who believe utterly in their own existence regardless of the shoe they're wearing.In other words - an endangered species indeed, the heroic Great Pandas of femininity"
My self esteem's not bad but clearly nothing like that needed to wing it in a pair of MJ's with strap and buckle.
Another useful chapter What Men Say When They Talk About Shoes
"So what do men make of a woman who can help them choose a pair of shoes? Pretty much the same as what they think of a woman who understands the Offside Rule: i.e., that she's the bees knees"
There's a glossary at the end and in it this entry
Kruschev, Nikita: Soviet politician, who, during a fiery UN session, removed one of his shoes and banged it on the table. This story has got nothing to do with this book, but I mention it merely to draw attention to the fact that a woman would never have done such a thing.
How I hope there's a sequel, because if I have a problem with shoes it's nothing compared to my addiction to bags, there is something ultimately satisfying about transferring my belongings to each successive new bag of my dreams.
I can't be alone in that one?
PS Coming up, Adele Geras is going to do a fashionista report for dgr scribbles on the Costa Awards ceremony, forget the prizes, what was everyone wearing, that's what we really need to know.