A well-heeled argument to keep feet off the ground

THERE was a point in my life, during the halcyon days of Cagney and Lacey and Hill Street Blues, when I was seriously considering being a garda (or a ban garda as was said back then).

But, there was a sudden image that came into my head and stopped me in my tracks.

Those shoes.

As vacuous as that may sound, the thought of wearing the Hush Puppy-type leather shoes, forced upon the 1980s ban garda, made me shudder and grab a CAO form.

Now obviously a pair of three inch Christian Lamboutins are imponderable for the cop on the beat but there was no way that I could cope with spending the next 40 years in the sartorial equivalent of two rubber tyres. I’m just being honest.

And so it was with raised eyebrows and a little smile that I pondered a motion put forward by the British Trades Union Congress. Global banking may be in chaos, employment in freefall and public services facing more cuts than a surgical patient; but somehow in all of this, unions have decided to declare war on high heels.

It’s the kind of union nonsense that provides ripe pickings to the likes of Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.

Yesterday, delegates at the conference put forward a motion calling for employers to ban the wearing of high heels in the workplace as they caused serious health problems and cost the economy millions in lost working days.

Speakers described heels as “sexist” while others said employers should be forced to carry out risk assessments on heel wearers and if problems were detected, spikes “should be replaced with sensible and comfortable shoes”.

According to chiropodists who raised the issue with unions, high heels increase pressure on the balls of the feet, the hips and knees leading to higher risks of arthritis, trapped nerves, corns and heel pain. They also offer the tantalising possibility of hammer toes, knee pain, back pain and bunions.

As somebody who cycles in heels, who will dictate that I am buried in a pair of heels, who believes that work means heels and associates flats with long walks and hospitals, they will have to sack me to get me into flats.

There’s nothing like racing through town at lunchtime and suddenly finding yourself glued to the spot staring at a pair of shoes in a shop window before finding yourself pushed inside by the cosmos so you can hold this little bit of magic in your hands. Buying an outfit on the High Street can cost you hundreds but these days a beautiful pair of shoes can be had for double figures and can lift you and your mental state to new levels.

Some people like to drink themselves into oblivion in their own homes each night. Millions more swallow a medicine cabinet before they can make it to the office. Legions more can’t get out of bed without a lungful of nicotine.

I met a chiropodist for the first time last week as my feet have started to show some signs of wear and tear. Her suggestion? Don’t buy cheap.

Chiropodists giving out about heel wearers? It’s like private obstetricians decrying the baby boom.


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