Pampered calves wreak reverse revenge

I blame my gran for surely one of the most soul-destroying hours I’ve ever experienced. If I think about it I could probably blame her for some of the most-soul destroying months, nay years, of my entire life, but let’s stick with Saturday shall we?

My gran, or the Mary Nana, made many pronouncements on many things, ranging from Oliver Cromwell through teeth to shoes. Many of these same pronouncements did in fact have a vestige of truth and were rooted in her early experience of life, as the eldest girl in a large Catholic family of girls, and one poor lad. Though she was also mistress of the biting wit and searing repartee and there was no questioning how funny she could be. Oft cruel but oh so funny!

I need you to imagine the following uttered in a faux genteel Glasgow accent, her Mrs McFlannel as we called it – never to her! – “if yourrr feet arrre soore yourrr face is pure scunnered.” I realise a bit of a translation might be necessary, so for ‘scunnered’ read sour, screwed up, pained. In other words, not pretty! I first remember hearing this in a Clarks shoe shop, in October 1968, on a Saturday afternoon at about 2pm. It was the day I discovered that I had big feet, while also discovering that I could actually get slightly cooler shoes because I had big feet. The very sweet shop girl pointed to the extended choice that was now open to me and I near swooned. The rest of me was 9 years old but my feet were teenagers!  But the Mary Nana scuppered those childhood dreams, and yes several more, but perhaps more of that in another blogpost. Her pronouncement boomed out across the shoe shop, terrifying the Saturday lassies, only just coming to terms with the technology of the Clark’s foot measuring stools so recently introduced. They were being forced to consider that they alone were responsible for all the sour faced Glaswegian women stalking the streets in shoes that looked fabulous but were in fact pure agony.

And that was that. Other than a predilection for platforms shoes (which to be fair are often only flat shoes perched on scaffolding) in the 70s to this day I tend to favour comfort over fashion. I love a brogue, and I have an embarrassingly large collection of Converse, canvas supermarket cheapos and Birkenstock look-alikes. All the boots I possess all manage to look slightly threatening in their utilitarian clumpiness, and are mainly chosen for the fact that in the unlikely event that their anti-slip soles wear out my local cobbler can replace with similar. I am after all a Scot living in Yorkshire.

I can remember every instance of the ‘pure scunnered’ face where new, usually high heeled shoes, were worn: a romantic stroll around London in fabulous green Dolcis strappy, wedges; a pivotal evening in a budding relationship that should’ve involved dancing, but couldn’t…. But every so often I want to look down upon the feet of an elegant, stylish woman;  to gaze upon the pointed toe and to wear heels that let me look into the eyes of the rest of world without feeling the shame of inadequate footwear. Nah, that’s not true! But the shoe lust does occur occasionally, as testified to by the boxes under the bed…

Right, back to Saturday.  For a while now I have lusted after boots of the sort that other ‘gone blonde’ women seem to sport as a matter of course. Their legs encased in trousers from Zara, or jeans definitely not bought in Sainsbury’s, and their lower legs gleaming in fabulous boots to the knee, they stride forth taking no prisoners.  The shops are full of the damned things so clearly I need to own a pair.

It should’ve been easy. I selected five different pairs, five different makes, of sleek gorgeousness, and the Saturday girl tootled off to the dark recesses of the pain chamber and returned under a pile of large boxes. I was near breathless with trepidacious excitement at the woman I was to become.

And the result? I have calves. Properly well-developed, indeed some might say shapely, calves; moulded and rounded through years of the sole of the foot properly connecting with the ground, not honed and narrowed through years of high heel-induced perching. I couldn’t pull the pull-up variety much beyond my ankle, or zip the zip that final all-important 3cm.  Yup, not for me the gone blonde, confident, stylish woman in her fabulous 50s stride. The Saturday girl, bless, made that sound we all know and love – ‘aaaoooh’ and was clearly flummoxed by what else to offer by way of commiseration at my calf quandary. It wasn’t anything she’d encountered before apparently. Yes, that helped my self-esteem no end.

I walked through the city, heart heavy with thoughts of my leg inadequacy, but the Mary Nana’s words came back to me and I let my eyes shift from those glossy gone blonde women’s boot shod feet to their faces. My heart soared once more. Pure scunnered looking, every one.

1 Comment

  1. Sandra Crook
    Nov 14, 2012

    🙂 How right your Gran was! I spent years baring a scunnered face to the world and knackered feet to the pavement. I sooo want to warn the young of today, as these days I spend the winter in my orthotic-soled trainers or utilitarian army-style boots and the summers in sturdy, cushion soled sandals. I doubt they’d listen any more than I did, and flashing my angry red bunions would be a step too far, even for me. Enjoyed this piece.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ViperProof by ViperChill