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  1. Last week
  2. Most of my photography action recently, has been in selling equipment. Lumix G80 - Gone. Mamiya medium format kit - Gone. 4 off smaller strobes - Gone. I've also sold off some seriously expensive medium format gear for a family friend. I have bought some extra batteries for the M50, and a 22mm lens (bargain!) I finally got around to buying a couple of filters for the 22mm too. I'm thinking about a third lens .... There might be a new member of the Canon M range announced later this year, that might provide some of the functionality I'm missing with the Lumix. Having spent a reasonable amount of time watching You Tube video's, doing small bits or research, it rather looks like the world (certainly the media world) doesn't need much more than a 20/24mp image. I probably have a camera that provides all the detail publications or prints, will need. I've no need to upgrade to the Sony at this time. I still have more pressing DIY work. (Like changing the boiler, if it gets warm enough this year to do without one for a week or two. ) At least now I have modern kit, with reasonable quality output. And no need for a darkroom.
  3. This time last year (IIRC) we were enjoying one of the best summers we'd had for quite a while. For the past two days, it's been so cold I've been forced to put the central heating on. This unusual situation has not been helped by the amount of rain we've had here. See this link and a couple of pictures: >> UK flooding << We have another two or three days of this, a brief respite then possibly some more the other side of next weekend. The great British Summer has returned.
  4. Well the Sunday wasn't cancelled, and the invite to the Trouping of the Colour didn't arrive (again ) so I went to London with my elderly friend. I say "elderly", that means compared to most readers. Compared to me, I suppose she's like an older sister. I wasn't sure about wearing a heel. Two of the shops we were planning to go to, know my face, and one of the two - very well. I've only been to London once in (x) years without a heel on, so a sudden change in height might be noticed immediately. I don't think my heels are a secret, but arriving 5 inches shorter might set alarm bells off. Would my 'guest' companion be bothered? As it turns out, not at all. In fact she was moderately interested in them. We did all the 'usual' things I might do, meaning coffee and cake. Walked around a bit. Got slightly wet from the odd shower. Covered a lot of ground, with neither of us bothered by my footwear. In fact the shoes my friend wore had something of a hard heel. When we synchronised our pace, it was possible for the sound of her shoe to cover the sound of mine. Bonus! We had planned to have a sandwich by the river, but the rain prevented that. It's not quite the same having a picnic in the car, but the company was pleasant, and so was the food my friend had kindly brought with her. The journey home was almost uneventful. A decision was made to buy something from John Lewis en route. I've got a clever phone, and placing an order on what was supposed to be the last item in stock (hence the need to purchase in a hurry), failed. On concluding the purchase procedure, something that was quite time consuming in itself, Mr Lewis said "Sorry, out of stock." Was quite frustrating .... By the time we got out of London, the rain had settled in. Luckily we had missed most of it having left early enough to avoid it. This was the second time I had promised my lady friend a view of the Thames in the first person, and for the second time I was foiled by time. I hope there's a third chance, and if there is perhaps I need to concentrate on that, rather than try to do other things first. (Which includes, coffee, cake, and people watching.) As far as heel wearing was concerned, a good day out, with camouflage heel tapping from a companion.
  5. Earlier
  6. There was a plan for me and an elderly friend to visit London this weekend. Weather promises to be wet for the next week or so, and this isn't exactly encouraging. My elderly friend hasn't been very well recently, and although this trip has been planned for some time, it looks like it might be postponed. I am fresh out of 'company' to go with me instead. Mrs F is out on a jaunt with a friend who is leaving the Home Counties for good. A second friend, (heels aware) is out of the country from Saturday. While some will be thinking 'why don't I go alone', the answer is the visits out in London are for as much social activity as anything else. If I was that keen for a walk in heels, I would walk out alone in desolate places much closer to home. Part of the 'usual' procedure, is to go into one of the big stores for coffee and a snack. (Okay, coffee and a cake. ) Then people watch. I make some sport from this by creating stories about the other people seated or walking past. You'd be surprised how many dodgy folk I tumble up to no good. If my visit is postponed, I might have to go out on my bike instead. That'll be novel, getting a bike dirty. Haven't done that for nearly 20 years.
  7. Shoes you have seen (avatar) and long jeans that covered my heel. Typically, I get noticed from the front. Noise from my shoes can be heard (although not a stiletto), but the small toe shown, might be something of a giveaway? I'm not sure if I have mentioned it here before, but in a restaurant not too long ago, a waitress remarked at how small my feet were. (Even though I'd just given her a decent tip. ) She was on the way around the table for another look, when I managed to dodge her getting that second look. I've also noticed, my fluidity in a heel, (hip sway, ankle bend) suffers with absence. I am trying to get out more in a heel, especially since longer/warmer days are supposed to be here. Forecast for today was "dry". Well it rained on the way in, while there, and tried most of all the way back, succeeding on arrival home. A neighbour has just returned from a holiday similar to yours I think. Apparently weather while away, was surprisingly dull for the first 4 days? We have friends who returned from a Mediterranean island holiday a couple of weeks ago, where it rained most days. Crete or Corfu, I can't remember. The "weather" has been doing some odd things this year. In London today, I didn't notice anyone noticing me. I'm sure they did, but anyone who did was very discreet about it. Even while in House of Fraser, where I tried on some Carvela courts, and two pairs of ALDO shoes, shop assistants kept away. While sitting for the second time, having tried on some shoes a size too small, I didn't notice a lady had sat down next to me (behind me) until I got up and walked away. It was obvious I was trying on womens (court) shoes, but I was ignored. Suits me. Today was a completely different experience from Friday evening.
  8. As a matter of interest, what footwear were you wearing, and did your trousers provide cover or not? Having just returned from my own modest European holiday, I'm increasingly sympathetic to your disenchantment with overseas travel. Quite apart from having mediocre weather (mostly better at home last week, I understand), the aggravation and delay endemic in any air travel is no encouragement. I hate getting up at around 3am to go to the airport, endure all manner of inconveniences and then fly back over my own house some four hours later whilst crammed into a too-small seat. Whilst my break (weather aside) was fairly relaxing and enjoyable, I too can think of better ways to deplete my sons' inheritance.
  9. Back into the big city later today, (Sunday) all being well. The weather here in the UK has not been very good recently, for the time of year. This time last year, we had a summer that really was a summer. This year it's been dry, but cool. Today was noticeably warmer, tomorrow not quite so warm, but it'll be warm and dry. Good walking in a heel weather. The plan at the moment is to visit a single store in the West End, then drive down to the river for a small lunch watching river traffic. Mrs Freddy has a new camera, and I'm hoping she will get a little practice in with it before she has to use 'in earnest' while away on one of her many holidays. (I will be home, looking after the cat.) My days of international travel are over. So over, I've let my passport lapse. I can't be doing with the B/S that is recognised as "airport security" for starters. Then I think of what I could do with the £1000 a modest holiday would cost. Like spend it on something I could enjoy every day of the year. Ultimately, the cat is the critical issue. He doesn't know what it's like, for me to be absent. I'm not sure I want him to find out. Besides which, I should be concentrating on getting fit with my new bike. Not gallivanting around Europe getting myself into mischief.
  10. So far, best plan is to borrow Mrs Freddy's petrol engined car, which avoids the ULEZ charge, and for me to drive into the Congestion zone after 6pm which avoids the weekday Congestion charge too. £24 "tax" saved. Yay! Next problem .... Shoes.
  11. Went to Brent Cross and Westfield tonight. Got 'noticed so many times, I might as well have worn a skirt too. Soon after I got out of my car, and before I got into BX, my heels had been spotted by a foreign worker (this is pertinent as he wasn't as disinterested as a Brit might be), and unknown to him, I watched him stare at my feet using his reflection in a shop window to see him doing what I thought he might after I passed him. By way of stopping him announce my shoes to his 3 buddies, I stared backwards as I continued into the centre. The last bod in the troupe also noticed how small my feet were, but fortunately I walked into the mall before he had a chance for a second glance. Not a great start to my evening, but fairly typical of it. The stay at Brent X was short, but I got spotted by a couple of women, each shopping alone so not distracted by mutual conversation. At Westfield, my first 'stare', was as I stood on the escalator that took me into the mall. To be honest, that may have been a general thing, (might have been where she was looking as she went down an escalator) but it didn't encourage. In M+S, I got spotted multiple times. Always by people who were not obviously British. W/F is something of a tourist trap for people shopping for bargains to take home I suppose. Staff at M+S were much more discreet if they noticed, and I'm sure they did. Not one person took amusement at my expense, nor made a critical remark that I heard. Even though I was spotted, I got a 'free pass' and was allowed to go on my way without hindrance or harm. In many ways things could have been worse. Schools are out, so many more young people were walking around W/F. They tend to be more interested in anomalous situations, and less likely to be discreet having spotted them. I seldom let young folk walk behind me for more than a couple of paces for that reason. Conversely, people walking past me don't get much time to take in what they may or may not have seen. Those keeping pace behind me, would otherwise get all the time they need to understand what they think they could be looking at. I always have my 'radar' switched to active, and I like to think paranoia plays no part in my seeing people notice my heels. Consequently, if one or more people are behind me and walking at the same speed, I almost always stop to look in a shop window and let them pass. In a store I will slip between isles, and suddenly become very interested in whatever is in front of me. Doesn't always work, as I found out in John Lewis. Must had had the same woman pass me at least 3 times in ten minutes. Every time, her eyes would linger at my feet as she passed. The last time, I nearly offered her a good look at my footwear, as to satisfy her curiosity. I suppose a man wearing a heel is no surprise to me, but seems to surprise middle-aged people who you might expect to have previous knowledge of this. Maybe my life hasn't been as 'sheltered' as it feels to me.
  12. Expensive, well made shoes? Maybe even made-for-them shoes. I understand Botox injections in the foot, has been quite popular in the past. I vaguely remember reading somewhere, a long time wearer of heels said she had avoided problems by wearing shoes that fitted. Seems obvious, but I doubt cheap shoes are made with keeping feet healthy. With almost every shoe available in the high street being made in China (or Vietnam), I imagine these narrower styles are going to produce longterm problems. In my youth, all but the very cheapest shoes were made of leather. These days, leather shoes cost a lot of money and are seldom seen in the high street. They are there, but with sticker prices around £200.
  13. Yes Mr Puffer, I do remember trolley buses, in Newbury and Reading, If you go to the bus repair garage in Reading it still says Generating Station in stone above the entrance.
  14. I find myself wondering how Victoria Beckham and Celine Dion will get around when they get into their older years. They are always wearing incredibly high heels. I wonder what kind of toll it is taking.
  15. I've mentioned this several times before, and included pictures too. But two girls/women I know who wore heels regularly, have cripple feet now, and have had for some time. Even Mrs Freddy, a moderate but enthusiastic high heel wearer, has had a number of problems over the (recent) years. While it isn't unknown, I would suggest MOST women have had to give up on heels (except for bedroom time maybe) around 45 years of age. Even if they are able to wear a heel socially, there may no longer be the will to wear one socially. As Mrs Freddy has said (too) many times; "Why am I going to go out in an uncomfortable shoe?" Though 20 years previously, she would go out in a very uncomfortable shoe, and think nothing of it. (Heightened sense of fashion in the young, mutes pain I suppose.)
  16. Chapter 4 – From school to work A notable event that I failed to mention in the last chapter was the demise of the London trolleybus. I had grown up with trolleybuses, which predominated the bus routes in my home area and further afield too. Despite their ‘green’ credentials (which today would have been a big ‘plus’), trolleybuses were seen as inflexible and inferior to a diesel bus such as the ‘Routemaster’. As nearly all of them still in use in London at the end of the 1950s were regarded as life-expired, the decision was taken to scrap them. Ironically, my area had been the first to get trolleybuses (replacing trams in 1931) and became the last to lose them – on 8 May 1962. The event was marked by a large local turn-out to welcome in the last bus in the early hours of 9 May; I was present with my father – we are somewhere in the crowd pictured below: It was some years before I saw ‘1521’ (or any other London trolleybus) again, until I enjoyed riding on one at the East Anglia Transport Museum, Carlton Colville (near Lowestoft, Suffolk) – well worth a visit! My schooldays continued, with O-Levels sat in 1964 and then A-Levels in 1966. I had intended to go on to university to obtain a degree in engineering, but alas it was increasingly obvious to me that my mastery of the necessary school subjects was not going to be to a good enough standard. I therefore decided instead to embark on a professional career, for which I could study by correspondence course whilst being ‘gainfully employed’. A few years later, I realised that this was probably a wise move, as many of my contemporaries at school had got their university degrees but not necessarily any worthwhile employment. (Ultimately, I ended up with two professional qualifications, each the equivalent of an honours degree, so I felt that I could hold my own despite never attending university.) As the 1960s progressed, life in England underwent significant change, to which no-one was immune. The period of often drab austerity which dominated the 1950s was replaced by one of growing wealth and opportunity – ‘You’ve never had it so good’ – and technological advance. But morals, fashions and music underwent much change too – and not in my opinion always for the best, as the ‘Swinging Sixties’ took hold, displacing the ‘Rock-and-Roll’ era. Women’s hemlines went up and their heels and hair went down, with tights replacing stockings, whilst many of both sexes began to follow a hippy or flower-power ‘free love’ lifestyle, with an increasingly colourful and often bizarre appearance. Mini-skirts and go-go boots on ‘dolly birds’ were all very well, but I much preferred the look of the early 60s that combined elegance with femininity. The pics below illustrate this contrast. Of course, the situation got even worse (in my view) when we entered the 1970s – but that is for later. I left school in the summer of 1966 and had a break of several weeks before I started work in a professional office a couple of miles from home. My father had shown a rare instance of generosity in not only ‘keeping’ me during that break period but also buying me my first ‘office suit’. My work was by no means all office-based as I had to visit clients in and around most of Greater London, and sometimes beyond, travelling by public transport. I was already familiar with most parts of London so this posed no problems for me, but it did open my eyes to much of the wider world, especially in the City and what is now Docklands. I soon found that I much preferred the environment of the City to that of the West End, which I have always found a somewhat uncomfortable mix of pretension and hustling, overlaid with an element of sleaze. The City seemed more civilised and respectable, with the women in particular dressed more to my liking. Certainly, there were many in the late 60s who still preferred to wear suits or separates with pencil skirts (usually just above the knee) and pointed stiletto courts, often 4” or higher. Most of the men however dressed a tad too conservatively for my taste. An acquaintance in a City office told me that there was a recently-dated notice stating: ‘Male staff are reminded that it is ungentlemanly to be seen in the street without a hat’. Bowler hats were still quite common, although seldom worn by those under 30 or so. But at least long hair and patterned shirts were rare east of Temple Bar. When not at work, I had to keep up with my correspondence course studies, with an initial exam in 1968, in which I did quite well. Time for significant social activity was still limited but I joined a local school of ballroom dancing which became my regular entertainment venue. I made a number of friends there of both sexes and went out elsewhere with a few of the girls I met. Several of the girls favoured stilettos, for dancing and otherwise, but alas they were increasingly considered unfashionable by many – and notable public sightings were becoming fewer. I do however recall several which made a lasting impression. One in 1968 was a tall slim brunette in Clapham making easy progress in pointed white sling-backs with a full 5” stiletto – a style I really like and similar to the pic below. Others from the same period included an older woman making her way cautiously down the exit ramp at Kingston station (which could be slippery when wet) in striking blue courts with contrasting red heels that were close to 5.5”, much the same as those below. And a young office-worker in Liverpool Street Arcade who was having difficulty in her 5” black patent courts; I wonder if she persevered and with what result?
  17. As dww will confirm (if necessary) I have apologised quite sincerely in a PM over any incursion regarding posting. I'm not sure why there need be any reluctance? As you are a relatively 'young and exuberant' (naive but enthusiastic) author, let me pass you a bit of golden advice: You have never once read a story where pictures could easily be included regarding social or anthropological history, and the author has omitted the opportunity to include images to demonstrate a viewpoint or experience. And you certainly have never read same, with comments suggesting the reader find their own references. Tut tut young Puffer, take 50 lines .... I for one am not going to spoil or ruin the flow of your story by 'wandering off' to find images of the time you mention while reading the article. Surely you must be the arbiter of the images your memory offers? And from that you are the only person qualified to support the narrative with images of things as you saw then. (So images through your eyes, not mine or anyone elses.) They don't have to be exact replica's, but like the maroon court shoe I used to illustrate the FHW shoe I first owned, it was good enough to convey what I was trying to describe. (In fact the resemblance was uncanny. I just had to wait almost 50 years to see a copy.) An example might be a comment along the lone of "she wore a leather skirt". Without some further detail, (or a picture) I would be disappointed if I couldn't find at least 5 different styles, and likely 10 at a push. A picture helps people with little imagination (could be me) and those with an over-active imagination (more likely me). This is a request of course, not an order.
  18. My reaction to dww's comment was one of sorrow. I invited comment at the outset but (Freddy excepted) have had none. There must be something to say that is not necessarily 'off-thread', especially given the broad coverage of my exploits? I had thought that dww in particular (who must be a close contemporary in age) would have something to say, given his recent brief account of his own 'formative years'. As to the content of my Chronicle, there is not much of substance that I could add; my other sightings and experiences, if remembered, would be little more than repetition. But the later accounts, yet to appear, may be more detailed as more happened and more is remembered. One more chapter may be expected before I take a brief holiday. Yes, I could find some illustrations - but they would be library items rather than my own and you, dear reader, can find them as readily as I can, if interested! But here are a few pics of women in 'smart' fashion typical of the period around 1960, as worn for more formal business or social activity. The accompanying stiletto heels were often rather higher than those shown - anything from 3 - 4" was commonplace and 4 - 5" favoured by some women, of all ages. Perhaps surprisingly, women quite often dressed formally within the home, or outdoors for local shopping etc - in dresses and stilettos and sometimes with a hat.
  19. Well..... The theme for this years MET, was "camp" and I'd say Harry carried it off quite well, as did some others. The reporters trousers are shorter than Harry's if I remember, so plainly the reporter was looking to get noticed. From the report written up in the Sun, I'd say the reaction wasn't quite what was hoped for. Basically, no-one really cared. As I've mentioned quite a few times, I get spotted in a heel fairly frequently. As long as I'm left alone to get on with it, I don't mind being noticed, I only get annoyed if the person staring is rude about it. (I got this too, when I had a temporary facial disfigurement. One or two, and thankfully there were VERY few, who looked, and looked, and looked. Usually, women.) I don't have many, but I do have some "stand out" images of people going about their business in London, that should have had every head turned they passed, but generally, not one head turned. I don't know if it's respectful, people accommodating individualists, maybe a bit scared (in case a comment created a scene)? You've got to go some in London to get "noticed" enough to stop people indulging in their own lives and get them looking.
  20. That's a bit unkind. I know for fact, Puffer is looking for some appraisal. I'm the one who is touchy about off--thread wandering.... My comment? More detail please. (You are going too quickly.) And a shame there are no photo samples to illustrate looks and shoes. A picture worth a 1000 words, innit. You know its a unfortunate (a real loss) we didn't have the ease of image capture back then, that we have now. This won't be a problem in 50 years time, with FB and Instagram now detailing lives on a daily basis. But imagine the value of capturing the scene in Shepherds Bush back in the early 60's as described in the Chronicle. A social anthropologists gold mine. I'm enjoying the Chronicles, but at this speed there's no room for Season 2.
  21. Just finished watching the Second Semi-Final, and thank goodness, there are some great songs and performances. Looking forward to Saturday. France looks good, so can't wait!!
  22. No I am not going to comment on this thread or any others, do not want to upset anybody, end of story. DWW.
  23. Chapter 3 - At grammar school In September 1960, I started at an all-boys’ grammar school in West London. I travelled there by train, with one change in the morning and two going home, taking about half-an-hour. (My free season ticket proved very useful as it could be used at weekends too and got me most of the way into central London.) I soon got to recognise a number of regular travellers, either on my trains or waiting at the stations I used. A number of women whom I saw regularly were dressed smartly ‘for the office’ and usually in stiletto heels. One I well remember seeing most days when I changed trains was around 50, had ginger hair and invariably wore high black patent stiletto courts – at least 4.5” – although her gait was not very elegant. The many students at any of the several colleges along my line generally followed the prevailing fashion, albeit often not quite so elegantly as those commuters in employment. The girls favoured pencil skirts and the boys narrow trousers, in both cases usually teamed with winkle-picker shoes. My school, although fairly relaxed in terms of ‘rules’, had a compulsory uniform and forbade the wearing such trousers or shoes. But a number of the boys did so and generally got away with it – a particularly popular style was the pointed Chelsea boot, typically with a high zipped or elastic shaft. The Beatle-inspired boots with Cuban heels (typically 2.5 – 3” high) appeared a little later, around 1965. One of my classmates wore a very pointed pair – but it was to be another 45 years before I got some for myself! I did however get some chisel-toed flat boots and side-buckled shoes, after I overcame parental objections, and wore them regularly to school. Many pupils from several other schools I saw frequently broke wholeheartedly whatever uniform rules applied – especially those requiring caps or hats to be worn. Some girls in particular endeavoured to wear tighter skirts, discreet make-up and jewellery, along with kitten heels – or anything but the prescribed flat ‘school’ shoes (with ankle socks for the younger ones). I got to know most of West London well, as various school trips (and the weekly journey to the hated sports ground for an afternoon’s purgatory) took me to most parts. The sights and sounds of this cosmopolitan area made quite an impression, particularly that of the growing immigrant West Indian population. But this was not long after the Notting Hill race riots and discrimination was common and quite blatant. A number of the rather run-down tenements along Shepherds Bush Road, for example, clearly displayed notices declaring ‘No blacks; no Irish; no dogs’ to deter potential tenants. But those who had found a home there seemed generally colourful and cheerful, even if their houses and jobs were not. In the warmer weather, the women typically wore brightly-coloured dresses, teamed with hats and white stiletto courts, and their children usually looked very smart when in their best clothes for church or outings at the weekend. In my view, they set a good example which was not easy to beat. School work took up much of my time, along with my essentially indoor hobbies - particularly model making and stamp collecting. There was limited opportunity for socialising outside my immediate family group, and both that and leisure trips were somewhat restricted in scope as we never had a car. However, public transport links were quite good and I made much use of them for weekend jaunts, by myself or with the family. We joined regular summer Sunday excursions by train to the Sussex coast and our annual fortnight’s holiday in an English or Welsh destination was invariably reached by train. Although these expeditions permitted some ‘girl spotting’ (and discreet heel appraisal), there were few opportunities to meet the girls themselves That situation prevailed, alas, until after I had left school, as I shall touch upon in the next chapter.
  24. As some (old hands) here might remember, one of the highlights of my year, is the Eurovision Song Contest. It's a bit of a 'camp fest' this year, with single sex relationships being promoted. Not sure why. Promoting the 'scene' in Tel Aviv maybe, for tourism? I watched bits from all 17 of the first round Semi-Finals. "Dire" doesn't quite describe how awful they were. While one or two of the costumes were 'entertaining' in a goth/fetish way, the songs and presentations were awful. Of the 17 there was one stand out song, and maybe two also-rans. Australia is proving to be popular, but that too has a chorus/hook that was stolen from Kate Bush. I should look at the 10 who got through, but I've no interest. Thursday will see the second round of the Semi-Finals. I have my fingers crossed there will be something more interesting there. The original 6 or 7 countries that took part in the competition get an automatic 'pass' to the final, which includes the UK. It shouldn't. The singer can sing, but the song is very very poor, and the singer inanimate when the dirge is sung. I would pay NOT to have to listen. I don't know why the BBC is so keen to give the voting public a small quantity of songs, usually written by people no-one has heard of, and sung by adequate singers (also unheard of) with no stage presence at all. Back in the days we used to win the competition, we employed singers who were regularly in the charts (as do other competitors still do). We'd use songs that would get into the charts, because the songs could stand by themselves. I've read several times, the UK can't afford to win, it can't afford to host the competition. Maybe it's true? So we go out to lose....
  25. 'The Sun' on 9 May ran a feature about one of its reporters dressing to emulate the 'Harry Styles' look - as seen recently at the Met Gala. See here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/9033421/man-tries-harry-styles-met-look-london/ For those who can't see the article, I attach one pic below  He doesn't look too bad imho, although the mismatched nail varnish does him few favours. The boots have quite a modest cuban heel and look perfectly good for male street wear. The overall reaction (if any) from onlookers as he went around in London seemed generally positive.
  26. I've been luckier. I used to have a size 7 foot, right up until I "settled down" and my waistline spread. I can still get into most styles, though the Chinese manufacturers tend to be less generous on sizing. I have slim feet, but I wouldn't mind if my feet were half an inch shorter. Ho-hum. I too started of trying some of my mothers shoes, one pair being some white open toe mules. Not unlike these: When walking in them, the wearer could enjoy the 'flip-flap' of the insole striking the heels with every stride. Very attractive sound I still enjoy.
  27. Chapter 2 - At junior school In the autumn of 1956, I left the infants school and moved into the adjoining ‘junior mixed’ school for the next four years. The scene was much as before – a sea of matronly frumpiness but with the addition of rather stern men in sports jackets. The deputy head, another pleasant and effective teacher in her 40s, was however an exception. She was a diminutive and neat woman who invariably wore stilettos – usually black suede ‘baby dolls’ with a heel of at least 3.5”. Her glasses were retained by a cord round her neck and perched on her fairly prominent bosom when not being worn. A never-forgotten event at the end of my third year was the retirement of the headmaster, a well-respected man whose rather formal ‘tweed suit and brogues’ appearance belied a kindly nature. During his retirement speech in front of the whole school and a number of parents (many of them former pupils), he burst into tears. He had been understandably overcome by the emotion of the moment, which we all briefly shared sympathetically with him. For the first couple of years, the secondary modern school on the same site was also ‘mixed’ and the older girls there (14 – 16) were not obliged to wear uniform and took advantage of that, with some seen in the prevailing fashions, including winklepickers and kitten or modest stiletto heels. Outside school, I had joined what was then known as the ‘Wolf Cubs’. In addition to ‘Akela’, there were two or three young women who helped with our activities from time to time. One of them, in her early twenties, was fairly tall and slim and in the summer often wore thinly-strapped slingback sandals with 3” stilettos. Not the most practical of footwear for active service but nice to look at; I have favoured them ever since. For the record, my experience of wearing any women’s footwear during this period was limited to a few attempts at trying-on a few of my mother’s shoes or sandals, out of pure curiosity. Alas, my feet were almost too big and anyway her styles were unexciting. How I envied those friends whose mothers or sisters had what was (to me at least) better and more adventurous taste – although I doubt their shoes would have fitted either. Once, during a game of hide-and-seek in a mate’s house, I found by chance a pair of his older sister’s white stiletto courts. Alas, they were just too small, despite being marked as an ‘8’ – probably American sizing but this puzzled me for years. I left the junior school in the summer of 1960 and, having passed the entrance exam, was awarded a free place at a good grammar school in West London, starting there in the September. This opened-up a whole new world for me, as I shall describe in the next part of this chronicle.
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