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Dealing with summer feet

For the first time in my life, I suddenly have reptile feet.

Whenever the DH or I are looking particularly skanky in this house, we say to the other: "Let me know if my glamour gets you down".

Today is one of those days. But thank heavens, it isn't visible - I am dealing with, for the first time in my life, dry, cracked heels.

I'm using the tried and tested method of soaking your feet, using a scrub (mine's just sugar and olive oil, with a bit of lavender oil added) slathering your feet in footcream, then Vaseline, putting a pair of plastic bags on them and then big furry socks. It doesn't actually look too bad, and over the course of a morning, it works wonders, but it does feel horribly squelchy. 

It is galling, as you get older, to keep finding bits of yourself going wrong. My sister reports that it's even worse after 60. Until now I had been remarkably untroubled by dry feet but suddenly, all those ads about dry, cracked heels make sense - my heels have turned into two crocodilely reptile paws that feel like they don't belong to me.

Another problem that has suddenly occurred is that my fingernails, which are becoming increasingly ridged, have also become increasingly brittle. The other week, my thumbnail split right down into the quick, which was both painful and a bit sick-making, and of course, you don't realise quite how many times a day you use your thumb until it's sudeenly out of commission. I had to mend the nail with nail varnish and tissue paper, then, irritatingly, paint the rest of my nails to match. Luckily, I had in one of those 1-euro Yves Rocher nail polishs in the house.

Ines de la Fressange, I notice, recommends Dior apricot nail cream, to be rubbed into the cuticles at night, so I will check it out. Something needs to improve them. With any luck, it might work on my heels as well...



Where have all the pumps gone?

Oh how I wish I'd hung on to my low-heeled leather pumps.

I found this article in the Daily Mail the other day, which I greet with unabashed dismay.

It doesn't matter how flexible the sole of a shoe is, reducing foot pain. Foot pain is a SIGNAL - wear something lower, for Christ's sake. 

Why on earth do women succumb to stumbling around in utterly ridiculous shoes? I do sometimes wonder if this deliberate hobbling of women is a backlash against women beginning to attain some equality with men in our society. As we have gained at universities, and more women become doctors, lawyers, scientists etc, young women - at least in the UK - are simultaneously encouraged to disappear themselves, to attain size zero, to hide themselves behind makeup, to change the colour of their skin and hair, and to cripple themselves with footwear that is impossible and dangerous to walk in. 

Any podiatrist or orthopaedic surgeon will tell you that heels above 1.5-2in high are bad for your joints. For your back, hips, ankles, knees and feet. Double arthritis of the knee - a truly crippling disease - is almost unknown in men and you know perfectly well why this is a disease of women - heels. 

Thank God, most of us realise the error of our ways long before we have to resort to a knee replacement - our burning soles hint that it's time to switch somewhere around 35. So why, then, is it so bloody difficult to find attractive low-heeled shoes? 

When at home, I spend my life in Crocs (podiatrist's orders) and if only someone would make boots and shoes with a 2in Louis heel I would stock up on loads to wear for the short periods when I'm in town. A Louis heel is beautifully and femininely shaped and gives a wide, secure base quite unlike a stilletto, but it seems to have almost disappeared from fashion. 

It is also easy to obtain complete flats, especially ballet flats, but these aren't particularly good for your feet either - a small heel is a better option for your back. Nor are flats very easy to wear with a skirt, though you can easily tuck a pair of sandals, loafers or trainers under your jeans. Even in Paris, home of all that is chic, I noticed older women dressed to the nines in skirt suits, but clad in trainers.

When I visited London recently, I did so with a large budget for shoes, but came away without a single pair - there was simply nothing in the shops that I liked. I spent my time in Nike trainers and FlyFlot sandals, quite unable, in the heat, to wear the 3in pink suede courts I'd brought with me for a business meeting. But an inch lower, and they'd have been fine.

Where, oh where, is the Chanel slingback of yesteryear with the easy, 2in heel? Why oh why did I give away my black and navy leather pumps with the narrow Cuban heels in 1.5in and 2in, which were so easy to obtain in the days of that gigantic stork, Lady Diana? 

I can only hope, I suppose, that Kate Middleton, doubtless a new fashion icon, has a fondness for low-heeled shoes....


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