If the Shoe Pinches…

I suppose its the same or similar for most people, but for me, buying new shoes is always a bit traumatic. When I think back to my childhood, with those strange machines which showed you pictures of green feet inside shoes that were being fitted, where the green toes wiggled when you wiggled your toes, I rue the day that these wonderfully helpful machines were banned on the piffling grounds that radiation was a problem for our health.

– Nobody has ever made a significant and meaningful assessment of the damage wrought by badly-fitted and ill-suited shoes on the body, with life-long repercussions if not corrected in time.
– Nobody has ever calculated the sheer waste involved in what must be – when seen cumulatively over the years – a massive pile of shoes that don’t fit properly, and will never be worn again, in spite of the fact that they are still in nearly new condition.
– And nobody has ever calculated the lost effect on the juvenile mind – to see the invisible made visible (in green) before our very eyes must surely have stoked some youthful imaginations to dream of the wonderful inventions that he/she would lay at the world’s feet in years to come.

And so, I wandered the streets of Rome. I wanted to buy not one, but three pairs of shoes. I always try to research my subject as thoroughly as possible before making a decision, and in this case it was even more important! I had decided to cover the complete spectrum – from the cheapest to be had on the local market, to the finest to be found from the guilds of artisans who displayed their creations only in the finest shops. Consequently, I walked, and walked, and walked until I could walk no more. Even though I was wearing my most comfortable and trusty old shoes, my feet could not hold out against the strain indefinitely. It was going to take more than 1 day! No matter, I was on holiday – I had time. And looking for treasure was as good an occupation for it as I could devise.

A couple of days later, in fact, I had narrowed the search considerably. I had already purchased the two pair for work on the market, and was now free to concentrate on the real treasure – my “best” shoes. I further refined the search to a couple of streets and a few emporia, with a trattoria or two between – essential for periods of refreshment and reflection. It was during one such period that I finally made my decision. I had found a wonderful pair in that shop called, er Pavarrotti? – no, he was the singer, wasn’t he – well, er Lamborghini? – no, that was cars, damn it. Well, it was some such name! Ah – I have it – Fratelli Rossetti. Not that I give a tinker’s cuss about the name, you understand, it is the shoes that are important. And these were sheer magic. They glowed at me from the rear of the display window, and told me quite clearly and distinctly “Your search is over!” I could only stand in silent admiration and agree with them.

I went in, almost trembling with anticipation, and explained to the nice assistant which particular shoe was the object of my heart’s desire, told him what size I needed, and within a few seconds held one of a pair of these wondrous examples of the shoemaker’s craft in my hands. With deft movements, I swiftly removed the shoes I had been wearing, accepted the proffered shoe-horn, and slipped my left foot into – a glove – truly a glove for my foot – it was so unbelievably comfortable that it could have been designed for me at birth. Another few seconds, and the second glove adorned the right foot. I was truly amazed. I had never known such comfort from new shoes before. It really was love at first touch!

We don’t talk about the price, of course. What could such mundane banality contribute to such an ethereal experience – absolutely nothing!

I was more than well satisfied. I had left the Moon a long way behind. My holiday objective had been achieved, and I returned home at the end of it. I waited for a suitable opportunity to don my full regalia, and display my new-found treasures to the world. It had to be something that was not too active, as I didn’t want to cause too much wear and tear on my new best shoes. A company Summer party was in the offing, and I decided that this would be the occasion to make the unveiling. On the evening in question, I showered and dressed, leaving my shoes till last. I reached for the shoehorn, and gently eased the left foot into its new home….

There was some unexpected resistance.
I had to push quite firmly to get my foot inside the shoe, and then wriggle it a bit to settle it in the best position.
I checked the right shoe. Exactly the same result!

These were definitely not gloves, but shoes after all – and they were tight – too tight for comfort!

How on earth could this have happened? I knew that there had been no mix-up in the shop – I had purchased the self-same shoes that I had tried on – that much was certain. But the reality then in the shop in Rome was very different from what I was experiencing now. What could possibly be causing the difference? It could never be the change of location – that made no logical sense at all.

After much anguished thought I finally came up with the answer – “Temperature”. My visit to Rome had been during a cold spell, and my feet had contracted in response to the lower ambient temperature. At the company Summer party, the temperature was 10C to 15C higher than it had been in Rome, and my feet were correspondingly larger! My beloved best shoes pinched!

The calamity was not quite complete. I could wear the shoes in Winter, or periods of reduced temperature, without a problem. But a subsequent move to the tropics put paid to even that mollification. The shoes were relegated finally to a dark cupboard, and are likely to languish there for all eternity, or at least until Hell freezes over!

The solution? – back to my old favourites!

There is actually another solution, but nobody in their right mind would even contemplate it, and it is only given here for the sake of clarity and completeness.
– Surgically make the feet smaller so that they fit the shoes. (Sheer madness, of course!!!).

If I now take the lessons I learned from the foregoing, and apply them to the European Common Currency area – the Eurozone – what do I see?

The Eurozone members were given new shoes, but they were all the same size and shape.
Some shoes fitted, and the countries could walk perfectly well – even run if they want to.
Some shoes fitted badly, and the countries are having constant problems to keep going.
Some shoes fitted so badly that those countries were hobbled – they staggered, fell, and had to be helped to even stand upright.

The solution is the same as above – those countries that the Euro does not fit should revert immediately to their old currencies, (their old favourite shoes).

The solution that is being politically pushed for, however, is the surgical option – ie make the feet fit the shoe.
Sheer madness, of course!!!.

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