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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/22/2019 in Posts

  1. 1 point
    This is the first chapter of ‘The Puffer Chronicle’ – an account of my modest involvement with high heels over the years. If you have any questions or constructive comments, I will do my best to answer them, but please understand that certain things in my life must remain confidential. Looking back over what is now quite a long life, I cannot really remember how or when my interest in high heels (or, indeed, women’s footwear in general) truly started. It probably stemmed from an accumulation of minor experiences and observations gained as a young boy. I had a growing perception that there were distinct differences between ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ and how they normally dressed and behaved. I realised that some ‘girly’ things were not permitted for boys (or men) and were therefore somewhat mysterious and, in their way, both attractive and enticing. Certainly, there was little to stimulate interest at my home in West Middlesex in the 1950s. I had a younger brother (but no sisters) and a father who was distinctly old-fashioned in dress – and usually in outlook too. My mother (aged 30 when I was born) never had any aspirations to a glamourous or even particularly fashionable appearance. She was something of a ‘free spirit’ and could well have been a hippy if they had been invented when she was a teenager. She rarely wore footwear with any sort of heel (and never above about 2” or stilettos) but liked flat sandals, although here again they were generally more frumpy than smart. I don’t recall any relatives, family friends or neighbours whose clothing or footwear was particularly elegant either – but we were still emerging from the austerity and rationing that followed the Second World War. The one exception was a cousin by marriage (aged around 30 in the late 1950s) who was fairly short and invariably wore 4” stilettos; a pleasure to see when we met perhaps once a year. Of course, there were sightings in the wider world – this was the start of the ‘rock-and-roll era’ and plenty of young (and not so young) women were embracing its typical fashions. Tight or full skirts, beehive hair and, of course, pointed stilettos were everyday-wear for many. I started at infants school in the autumn of 1953. Unusually, my teacher for all three years there ‘moved up’ with my class. She had a kindly and effective influence (and imparted in me much valuable knowledge, well-remembered to this day) and we were all fond of her. As she had at least one daughter living abroad, she was probably in her early 40s and was tidy and presentable rather than intentionally smart in what she wore. The other teachers - all women - dressed similarly, although the headmistress was always well-groomed and usually wore low-heeled suede court shoes. (It was rare to find any teacher, male or female, whom one might consider to be ‘well-dressed’ – and my observations suggest that nothing much has changed in 60 years.) I had to go into the local hospital to have my tonsils removed, and in fact was there on my seventh birthday - so got an extra helping of jelly and ice cream. The nurses were talking about Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, then relatively unknown but soon to become famous. Those were the days when nurses wore ‘proper’ uniforms, with seamed stockings. Matron and some of the other senior nursing staff looked very elegant in their close-fitting dresses with starched aprons and caps, and wore high-heeled ‘Oxford’ lace-ups - a style that I will always associate with ‘women in uniform’. Back at school, my perception of my teacher changed dramatically towards the end of my final year in her class in 1956. We had some sort of formal event at the school – probably a visit by the mayor or some such – and she dressed quite elegantly for the occasion. I was blown away by the sight of her black patent court shoes, with pointed toes and stiletto heels that must have been close to 4.5”, which she wore effortlessly. Alas, there was no repetition and mediocrity reigned for the rest of my time there, with little change following my 'promotion' to the junior school, as I shall describe in the next instalment.
  2. 1 point
    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.
  3. 1 point
    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.
  4. 1 point
    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.
  5. 1 point
    As a fellow 'older diesel' car driver who lives near enough to central London to consider driving into or through it, I share your well-stated concerns. My trips nowadays are rare enough for the impact not to be of great concern, but I do resent very much the effective 'ban' now imposed - and which will get much worse in less than two years when the entire area within the North and South Circular Roads becomes the 24-hour charging zone. The latter will concern me more as it will effectively (very effectively) stop me from venturing briefly into, say, Lewisham, or Hammersmith or some such non-central area to pick up or drop off some large or heavy item that I could only transport in my car. I will not pay a ransom for doing this. And what of the residents or businesses located there? I know they have some temporary concessions, but they will (eventually) have to change their vehicles or face every-day swingeing costs - in the region of £100 per day for goods vehicles. That must mean that anyone living within the North/South Circulars and buying something (a fridge, a settee, a garden shed) that has to be delivered by road from a distance will likely have to pay a huge premium for its delivery, even if the same vehicle can make several drops in the same trip. Likewise, who will buy from businesses there, especially if collection is needed? I do however use the train, underground and buses to get into and around London; they pose no problems in navigation etc for me. I agree that they are not particularly cheap, but the true cost comparison with driving is not necessarily unfavourable, unless two or three are travelling together. The biggest drawback of public transport is the limitation on what can be conveniently carried (or comfortably/discreetly worn). The new charges are really a con, or at least primarily a revenue-raiser. They apply the typical British rule that one is totally prohibited, for the alleged benefit of the environment and civilisation, of doing anything useful, convenient or pleasurable - unless of course one is prepared to pay through the nose for it, when it suddenly becomes permitted - welcome even. (Rather like smoking, isn't it?)
  6. 1 point
    I've no idea if anyone from 'foreign climes' will be reading this, but we in the UK have a peculiar tendency to charge for anything and everything to do with travel. We also seem to be world-leaders in punishing drivers for doing what has been recommended by way of government policy. Some ten years ago, the UK government wanted us drivers to buy diesel vehicles. They produce less CO2 than petrol engined vehicles, and often go further on the same volume of fuel. We drivers did as the government recommended. 10 years later, diesels are now worse than petrol engined vehicles unless they use ultra-modern technology (which is not retro-fittable) although the new technology now makes them 'cleaner' than petrol engines once again. The bogeyman of older diesels "particulates". There has been a "Congestion Zone" in the Westminster/West End of London for some years. To the occasional visitor, that charge has been avoidable, since it only operated during 'weekday working hours'. The current charge is £11-50 and that charge is made between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday. Secure parking is expensive too, at circa £10 an hour. On street parking not much cheaper, if cheaper at all and usually comes with a 4 hour maximum stay. Who would WANT to drive into the West End? Transport for London (TfL) would say this works well keeping the street open enough for buses and taxi's to navigate the busiest areas, and encourages people to use public transport. Having used London Underground, and been completely confounded by the London bus system, no-one will be surprised I would not use it, and that's before costs are brought into the equation. Circa £12 for a daily ticket, and an inclusive ticket that includes overground travel being closer to £24. For two people using public transport, it can still be more expensive than a short car trip into the West End, and a lot slower if you are going to one place. With the news "particulates" from diesel powered vehicles are more dangerous than CO2 emissions, the London mayor and TfL have introduced a new charge for vehicles that produce particulates, the very engine type the UK government encouraged people to buy claiming they were more 'environment friendly'. And unsurprisingly, this new charge is applied around the clock, so no escape from it - other than staying away or even more expensive public transport. As some are saying, this is not much more than a local tax, and not a cheap one at £12-50 per day for a smaller vehicle. Visitors to the West End using diesel vehicles that don't have new technology engine management systems (with additives injected into the fuel system to prevent particulates being formed), are being charged £ 24 per vehicle per day (unless exempt from the £11-50 Congestion Charge). I drive an older diesel, as recommended by the government of the day. How is this pertinent on the Outing V thread? Not only do I not plan to walk through London's public transport system to get to the venue wearing a court shoe (which might ruin them anyway), I do plan to drive there. My journey might be late enough to avoid the Congestion Charge, but I won't be able to avoid the Emission Zone charge of £12-50. I might be more inclined to use public transport if the each way journey didn't add up to £12 each (there will be two of us travelling) and there is car parking at the Underground Station to add to the £24 (total) transport cost. And add to the the two lots of costs, a fair bit of walking too. Paying the ULEZ charge is more economic, saves time, and a lot of energy. So has the 'charge' actually done anything to reduce the particulates from my vehicle? Will that charge/money do anything about reducing the particulates from any vehicle? So it's not a charge, it's a fine. I get fined for driving a vehicle that uses an engine the government told me they wanted me to drive. Rant over...
  7. 1 point
    @Puffer et al..... If someone starts a thread.... (Starter is known as "OP" original poster AFAIK) there is a declared subject matter. Usually not well hidden in the title of the thread. So lets say I start (or you start, or someone starts) a thread called "my new bicycle", and the OP goes onto to write up about their bicycle (as expected). Contrary to your declared understanding, that thread ISN'T open to discussion about umbrellas, wellingtons, pineapples, nor overcoats. The subject of the thread is "bicycles" and that is pretty plainly understood to everyone on every other BB I've ever been part of. "A thread", or any thread, isn't a free for all that allows anyone wishing to make comments about; the weather; where they go shopping; or how old they are. THAT would be described as something "off thread" or "off topic". And again, contrary to your rather 'straw man' point, keeping the subject "on thread" isn't going to stifle democracy, nor 'free speech'. If the OP writes something about bicycles and someone wants to make a comment about the price of oranges, that second subject (price of oranges) should get it's own thread. If the person who wants to declare they are upset about the price of oranges, or the taste, quality (whatever) and can't be bothered to start a new thread (possibly titled "Have you noticed the price of oranges these days?" the chances are the issue just isn't important enough to be mentioned. Nothing to do with democracy, nothing to do with free speech. This thread, or the MKII is and was about 'outings'. If someone wanted to contribute, the expectation would be/could be, others would share their 'outings' planned for the next few months, or further forward. This would be 'on topic' and wouldn't be a contribution by the OP at all. (Obviously.) Euchrid for example, goes to lots of places to see bands, with or without heels. His 'on topic' contributions would have been very welcome, because they were "on topic". In fact I'm disappointed he doesn't have his own "Outings" thread here because he could keep us all interested in his activities. Edited and returned, having had some very positive contact from from Puffer.

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