Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Great Shoe Debate

The Great Shoe Debate

Fairly good post on this subject.

Plastic Sheeting on Furniture?

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People say some daft things in internet discussion threads. Often when the shoes-off rule is discussed, people suggest that those with shoes-off homes probably leave the plastic sheeting on their furniture.

Does anybody really do that?

There is simply no comparison. Furniture is not going to be damaged by people sitting on it (unless they put their shoes on it- which some silly people do). But your shoes can certainly make a mess of floors and carpets.

Removing shoes at the door wil make you feel more comfortable. Sitting on a sofa with plastic sheeting is horrible, especially in the summer when one is wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

And plastic sheeting on furniture looks really silly anyway.

So I very much doubt that many people who keep their homes shoe-free really do leave plastic sheeting on their furniture.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

At a risk of being boiled with my own pudding and having a sprig of Holly skewered through my heart, I am going to say:

Merry Christmas

Or Merry Saturnalia to all you Jehovah's Witnesses and any like-minded extreme KJV-Fundamentalists who want to enjoy having a family holiday but do not want to get tangled in any pagan stuff.

By the way, a lot of people get slippers as a Christmas present. It is one of those things that makes a great present (provided you know the recipient's shoe-size). If you do, please take it as a sign that you really ought to make your home a shoe-free zone. It will certainly make for a more relaxed atmosphere during the holiday season.

Have a clean and godly Christmas this year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hospitality part 2

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Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surpised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hospitality

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There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality. Again, this is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted.

When I get my own house or apartment, I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Friday, December 15, 2006

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes

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Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?

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In some Eastern European and Asian countries, guests change from their shoes into slippers provided by the host.

Some argue that if you intend to have a shoes-off policy in your home, you should keep some slippers for guests to wear. This will make them feel more comfortable and prevent embarassments such as foot odour and holes in socks.

This is a fairly good idea, but I am not so sure. If slippers are provided, then they must either be disposable plastic slippers or else slippers that can go in the washing machine. It would be quite unreasonable to expect guests to wear slippers that have been worn by somebody else that day. I am not sure whether most slippers are machine washable. Some guests might not even trust you that they really have been cleaned and may prefer to stay in bare or stocking feet.

I think the practise of providing guest slippers might be just a bit too weird for British. Many British people will have been to a house where shoes-off was required, but not many people will have been offered guest slippers to wear, unless it was in another country. I think a lot of English guests would prefer to go shoe-less, rather than wear slippers that are not their own.

I think it is a good idea to buy slippers for family and regular visitors and keep them at your house. These should be worn only by the person they are provided for. Hopefully, one's family and close friends would be delighted by this consideration.

Providing clean socks is a different matter. I would suggest keeping a supply of clean socks in different sizes by the door for guests who are not comfortable going barefoot.

I think it is very sensible to let visitors know in advance that one has a shoes-off rule in one's home. That way, they can be sure to wear socks without holes or bring their own slippers if they prefer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to....Fiji!

Fiji Page in Wikipedia

Official Fiji Travel Guide

Lonely Planet: Fiji Travel Information

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Fiji, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

This week a military coup took place in Fiji that looks set to restore dictatorship. Fiji has been a very popular holiday destination, with its beautiful beaches, but it has a history of military rule. We can only hope and pray that there is no bloodshed and that democracy is restored as soon as possible.

The population of Fiji is divided between native Fijians of Melanesian origin and people from the subcontinent of India whose ancestors were inroduced as labourers by the British. The Fijians were almost entirely converted to Christianity long ago, but the Indians are mostly Hindus. However, some of the Indian population have converted to Christianity. Racial tension between the two communities have made evangelism difficult.

Slippers that look like Shoes

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I do not as a rule always remove my shoes when visiting other people's homes. In Britain, removing shoes is not the norm and might be considered odd or even rude. However, some people would like visitors to remove their shoes, but are afraid to make the request. I should very much like to encourage those people by my behaviour.

Hence, I only remove my shoes if the host is not wearing shoes and possibly not even then if I know they wear shoes at home sometimes.

However, some people wear slippers that look like shoes. This really can cause confusion, Men may wear leather slippers or moccasins that could pass as shoes. It was fashionable a couple of years ago to wear these slip-on sneakers. Some people started wearing them indoors as slippers. At the moment, it is very fashionable for girls to wear outdoor shoes that are identical to slippers. If somebody is wearing those indoors, how am I suppposed to know if they are slippers or not? In the summer, some people may use indoor-only flip flops as slippers.

So people, if you would like people to remove their shoes in your house, but are too polite to say, please wear slippers that look like slippers and leave lots of shoes by the door to make it obvious.

Or better still, just pluck up the courage to say "We remove our shoes in this house." You may be surpised how gracious people will be.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Slip-On Shoes

I am going to Japan in January for a two-month mission trip.

Most of the guide books recommend wearing shoes without laces in Japan, as shoes are not only removed in homes, but all kinds of buildings, with exceptions like supermarkets and railway stations.

Hence, I got two pairs of slip-on shoes today; a pair of smart leather shoes from Clarks (reduced to £29.99) and some slip-on sneakers (reduced to £10!).

I am not that used to wearing slip-on shoes. I have very narrow feet, so they are not ideal for me. People in Asian countries are blessed with rather broader feet than us Anglo-Saxons. However, they will make it easier for me to remove shoes when visiting friends in this country as well as Japan.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Shoes-Off at Parties?

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As Christmas (Saturnalia) and New Year draw ever closer, a lot of people will begin planning parties. This is probably not the ideal subject for me, because I am not terribly fond of parties at all. Nevertheless, I have been to parties in the past and I am sure I will go to some in the future. I may even host one in the years to come.

There are some people who are strict about no-shoes in their homes who make an exception for parties. They feel that parties are an occasion when people expect to dress up and this must include shoes. I disagree with their view. I think it is perfectly reasonable to require shoes to be removed for a party.

In Canada and Scandinavia, it is common for people to attend formal parties with a special set of party shoes that are not worn outdoors. This is not really feasible in the UK. I doubt that many British folks have shoes that are never worn oudoors, unless they keep a pair of sneakers to go to the gym. And if those formal party shoes have high-heels, they are unacceptable anyway.

Some people say that party of a party is clearing up afterwards, so you should not make a fuss about mess from people's shoes. This seems a little silly to my mind. People will make more than enough mess at a party without them bringing in dirt on their shoes. There will be plenty of spilled wine and crumbs ground into the carpet without chewing gum and dog dirt from peoples' shoes as well. Also the main party season in the West is Christmas and New Year, when there will be plenty of rain and snow (maybe not snow in England, but plenty of rain). The party season is a wet season.

Some argue that people will feel silly and uncomfortable at a party without their shoes. It is true that people might find it a little odd. But they will probably feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. If it is made clear in the invitation that shoes willl need to be removed, then it will not come as a shock. Furthermore, if there is alcohol at the party, then most people will be feeling more relaxed.

The main argument levelled against shoes-off at parties is that people dress up for parties. A lot of people, particularly women, will chose their outfits very carefully and they the choice of shoes is part of that selction. For them, a party is an occasion to show off their good taste. They would not want to combine their cocktail dresses with barefeet.

In response I would say that parties are hardly the only occasions for dressing up. Ladies can show off their fancy shoes in restaurants or at the races. Not all parties are such formal occasions. If a party is a smart-casual event, it is actually quite rude to dress up more smartly than other guests.

The host sets the theme of a party. If it is meant to be a fancy dress party, then you should make the effort to find a costume or stay home. If it is an informal party, leave the suit or cocktail dress at home. If it is a no-shoes party, leave the kitten heels at the door.

I keep making this point, but I will make it again: it is best that guests know in advance that shoe-removal is required. If you are printing fancy invitations, make it known there (with some clip-art maybe?). If people know that they will have to take their shoes off, it will not come as a shock and they can plan their outfit with this in mind. They can bring some nice slippers that complement their outfit if they want and they can avoid long trousers that only look right when worn with high heels.

There is the question of whether it is really possible to hold a formal party while people are shoeless. It may be difficult in the West to maintain an air of formality when everybody is without their shoes, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it not better to be realxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make na effort to keep the party formal. Men can look reasonably smart by combining respectable slippers with their suits and women can look pretty elegant in stocking feet. So all is not lost. If shoes-off in homes becomes more common, shoe-lessnes will probably become less associated with being casual and informal.

There are some people who will certainly be far more happy and comfortable to party without their shoes on. As I argued in a previous post, it is not simply a matter of giving these people the choice. At a shoes-on party, those who take it upon themselves to remove their shoes are likely to get their feet squashed and to have to walk on a soggy carpet. Shoes-off for all guests makes it easier for those who want to take their shoes off.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Not Typical

I watched a movie after a dinner party at some friends' house. It was a romantic comedy entitled 'Hitch', starring Wil Smith.

I was surprised to notice several characters in the film removing their shoes before entering a luxury yacht. While people in films do remove their shoes, it is almost always because their feet hurt. People in films are normally oblivious to the destructive effects of shoes on floors.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Athlete's Foot

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An unpleasent fungal infection.

A lot of people mention Athlete's Foot as an argument against people having a shoes-off policy. However, this is a quite unnecessary concern.

Athlete's Foot is generally associated with swimming pools and changing rooms. It is possible to catch Athlete's Foot on one's barefeet at a swimming pool or in a locker room. However, recent research indicates that this is not so likely as was previously thought.

Most importantly, the reason people catch Athlete's Foot in those places is not because people there are barefoot, but because the fungus needs a warm and wet environment. People get exposed to the fungus in the damp conditions. If they fail to dry their feet, the fungus is very comfortable and even more so if the victim puts on sweaty socks.

The fungus will not survive long on the clean, dry floor or carpet of a person's home and so you are very unlikely to catch Athlete's Foot in somebody's house, even if the owner has the condition.

What is more, people who are not wearing socks are likely to put on sandals when they leave, as opposed to closed shoes. Thus, they will not create the right environment for the condition to thrive.

Of course, if you are worried about it, you can always bring some slippers or socks when you visit a shoes-off home.

People who have a shoes-off policy ought to let their visitors know in advance and be willing to lend a pair of clean socks, if not slippers.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Pakistan!

Pakistan Page in Wikipedia

Welcome to Pakistan

Government of Pakistan

I hereby grant the National Etquette Award to Pakistan, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

This week a court in Pakistan gave its verdict in the custody case of Molly Campbell, now calling herself Misbah. This teenage girl was the child of a Scottish mother and a Pakistani father. Earlier this year, it was believed that the girl had been abducted to Pakistan by her father. It turned out that she had in fact gone voluntarily to Pakistan and wished to remain there with her father. However, the court announced yesterday, that she must be returned to her mother's custody in Scotland. To my mind, I think it would probably be better for her to remain in Pakistan and I am surprised the court reached that decision. The girl has chosen to adopt the Islamic religion and identify with her father's culture. Her wishes ought to be respected.

Pakistan was part of the British Raj, but became independent in 1947. It has become a great military power with nuclear weapons. It has come close to war with India in recent years over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan is a strategic ally of the Britain and the United States in their opposition to Islamic terrorism and the Taliban.

Pakistan is a Muslim country, but it has a significant Christian minority. Christians are respected by much of the population, but they are often the victims of persecution, sometimes officially. For information on the suffering church worldwide, please visit:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

There are many Pakistanis living in the United Kingdom. There are certainly a lot in Worcester. There are a number of Pakistanis active in Worcester Conservative Association. We actually had a Muslim mayor in Worcester a couple of years ago (and as a result, a Muslim chaplain for Worcester City Council at that time). He was a great chap.

Our next door neighbours are from Pakistan. I have never visited their home, but they have visited us. I do get the impression from television that a lot of Pakistanis living in Britain wear shoes in their homes, though this is not the custom back in Pakistan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stewardship

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I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Culture

Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly accpetable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Friday, November 24, 2006

37 Reasons for Having a Shoes-Off Policy in Your Home

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37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:

1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear them all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper?

Good Questions: Is Shoes Off at a Party Proper?

I have posted this before, but it really is a great discussion thread. Though it did get a bit heated at some points!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beach and Carpet

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It is remarkable that people will happily walk barefoot on beaches that, despite looking clean, are contaminated by animal excrement, rubbish, pollution and other filth and yet will make a fuss if they are asked to remove their shoes and go barefoot on somebody's clean carpet or shiny hardwood floor.

Do people really think that beaches are more hygienic than floors that are cleaned regularly?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Making Guests Feel Uncomfortable?

Kim from Hiareth made this comment on a post at Regaining Paradise:

Our whole family kicks off shoes before coming into the house. That means our house or anyone else's house. Its an ingrained habit. Tom and I both grew up in homes where this was the accepted protocol.

Having said that, I don't ask my guests to slip off their shoes. I want my guests to feel comfy and some people feel exposed without their shoes.



I would like to answer the claim that having a shoes-off policy will make guests feel uncomfortable.

Firstly, I do not think the majority of people, at least in the UK, would feel uncomfortable about removing their shoes. That does not mean that they will remove their shoes without being asked; it is not the norm here in Britain, so they need promting. Hence, we are talking about a minority of people.

There are several possible reasons why people might not feel confortable about removing their shoes:

Their feet smell
I actually think most people's feet smell far less than they may think. If people wear clean socks and get into the habit of taking off their shoes at home, they will find that their feet do not smell much. If people are really worried about this, they can bring slippers with them and use foot deoderent before their visit.

They are embarassed about their feet
No problem. They can bring slippers or socks with them. If their visit is unexpected, the host should offer them clean socks to wear.

Their feet may get cold
Again, they can bring some slippers with them or wear wooly socks.

They feel that shoes are essential to their outfit
One needs to dress appropriately to the occasion. If you go jogging, you wear a tracksuit and trainers. If you attend a funeral, you should wear a dark suit. If you visit a no-shoes home, you should chose an outfit that looks good with barefeet.

They are not used to taking their shoes off in other people's home
Poor things. They will get used to it. When you visit somebody else's home, you should accept that they may do things differently. When in Rome...

If people really are that unconfortable about taking their shoes off, they had better not do too much travelling. In Asian, Canadian, East European and Scandinavian homes, you are expected to remove your shoes at the door. They need to realise that there are quite a lot of circumstances in life where one has to take one's shoes off; in a swimming pool, at airport security, when practising Yoga or when visiting a Mosque.

Is it really such a big deal to take one's shoes off when visiting the cosy house of somebody who wants to protect their carpet from dust and filth?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Broken Glass

Walking through the streets of Worcester today, I trod on some broken glass. A big fragment got stuck on my shoe. It came off easily. However, when glass breaks, parts of it shatter into tiny pieces, many too small to see.

Those tiny fragments get embedded in shoes very easily. What effect do you think those tiny fragments of glass in your shoes might have on carpets or laminate flooring? Do you see where I am going?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?

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You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Wearing Shoes in Your Home is a Health Hazard' by Paul Rebhan

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Paul Rebhan wrote:

When you walk through almost any part of a city, and even in the suburbs, your shoes pick up a multitude of unwanted hangers-on. If you wear those shoes in your home, you run the risk of endangering your family's health by spreading viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, other pathogens, allergens and toxic substances.

Nocent items such as these may be commonly found on sidewalks and streets:

- Remnants of feces from dogs, cats, rodents, birds, other wildlife and sometimes, even humans.
- Urine from the same sources.
- Excretions such as saliva, mucus, sweat and sometimes, blood or vomit.
- Remains from insects and rodents
- Remnants of garbage including food waste and toxic cleaning products.
- Residue from insecticides, oils, gasoline and grease.

Even indoor spaces such as the floors of restrooms are frequently contaminated with urine and hospitals or doctors' offices are fertile hotspots for a variety of germs that may end up on your shoes. Soil around homes and parks may be contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and toxic wood preservatives.

Residue from humans and animals may contain common viruses and pathogens such as hepatitis, herpes, E. coli, tetanus, rabies, strep, hantavirus, or cold and flu causing germs. Garbage residue may carry traces of toxic products such as formaldehyde, industrial chemicals, dyes and lead. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of "Power Healing", lead tracked into a home and accumulated in carpet dust often exceeds levels requiring clean-up at Superfund toxic sites.

These items may be on the ground in very small deposits that are unnoticeable to the naked eye. Shoe soles are generally made of leather, rubber or other porous materials that allow the absorption of microscopic substances. Wiping shoes on a doormat or rug may remove some of the larger materials, but will not eliminate microscopic germs.

Once inside your home, contaminated shoes become a conduit for disease, spreading germs to carpets and even hard-surfaced floors. If you walk on those floors later without shoes, the germs can spread to your feet and be carried to other places such as your bed. If children are allowed to play on the floor, germs can easily spread to their hands, clothing and mouths. Even pets are at risk of picking up and spreading these germs.

In his book "The Secret Life of Germs", Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D. suggests a simple way to avoid this hazard: "One should adopt the hygienic Japanese practice of having separate footwear for outdoors and indoors, and leaving the outdoor shoes at the threshold".





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References: Philip M. Tierno. Jr, Ph.D.: The Secret Life of Germs, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: An Ounce of Prevention, Dr. Leo Galland: Power Healing, Spectrum Magazine: Our Daily Dose of Poison, Logan County, CO.: The Online Courthouse, Gary Null, Ph.D.: Natural Living with Gary Null

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Apartments and Wood Floors

re-post

It has become very fashionable in Britain to tear out the carpet and have a fine hardwood floor fitted. No modern apartment can be seen to be without a beautiful wood floor. Some connect this trend to fears about carpets and Asthma. However, carpets do have some health benefits, most notably improved air circulation.

Regardless of the aesthetics of wood floors and regardless of the merits of wood floors vs carpet, the combination of hardwood floors and the British custom of wearing shoes at home is very bad news for people living in blocks of flats. The sound of people stomping about on a wood floor in high heels or boots can make life miserable for people living below.

If you live in an hardwood floored apartment and you have people living below, please think about your poor neighbours and take your shoes off.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dog Dirt

re-post

I am not fond of dogs. In fact, I do not like animals very much in general. However, regardless of whether one likes dogs, I think we all agree that dog excrement is not very nice at all.

Compare dog dirt to sheep excrement. It is quite different. Sheep excrement is a bit messy, but not much more than mud. It dries out easily in hot weather. The smell of sheep excrement is not that unpleasent, it is part of the English pastoral experience. The reason for the difference is that sheep only eat grass, while dogs eat meat. Hence, dog dirt is a serious potential health hazard. Being exposed to dog dirt is not very good for you at all.

Most places have laws to stop dog fouling, however, there are people who are careless enougth to let their dogs foul up. There are also stray dogs.

You may think that you are careful enougth to avoid stepping in the stuff. However, it is very messy. Even after the bulk of it has been washed away or consumed by insects, there will still be traces of it that you would never notice.

For the sake of your children, take off your shoes at the door and ask visitors to remove their shoes. Even if you do not have children and do not care about your own health, ask visitors to remove their shoes. That way, other people will feel more comfortable making their own homes shoe-free.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Shoes-Off at Parties?

As Christmas (Saturnalia) and New Year draw ever closer, a lot of people wil begin planning parties. This is probably not the idea subject for me, because I am not terribly fond of parties at all. Nevertheless, I have been to parties in the past and I am sure I will go to some in the future. I may even host one in the years to come.

There are some people who are strict about no-shoes in their homes who make na exception for parties. They feel that parties are an occasion when people expect to dress up and this must include shoes. I disagree with their view. I think it is perfectly reasonable to require shoes to be removed for a party.

In Canada and Scandinavia, it is common for people to attend formal parties with a special set of party shoes that are not worn outdoors. This is not really feasible in the UK. I doubt that many British folks have shoes that are never worn oudoors, unless they keep a pair of sneakers to go to the gym. And if those formal party shoes have high-heels, they are unacceptable anyway.

Some people say that party of a party is clearing up afterwards, so you should not make a fuss about mess from people's shoes. This seems a little silly to my mind. People will make more than enough mess at a party without them bringing in dirt on their shoes. There will be plenty of spilled wine and crumbs ground into the carpet without chewing gum and dog dirt from peoples' shoes as well. Also the main party season in the West is Christmas and New Year, when there will be plenty of rain and snow (maybe not snow in England, but plenty of rain). The party season is a wet season.

Some argue that people will feel silly and uncomfortable at a party without their shoes. It is true that people might find it a little odd. But they will probably feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. If it is made clear in the invitation that shoes willl need to be removed, then it will not come as a shock. Furthermore, if there is alcohol at the party, then most people will be feeling more relaxed.

The main argument levelled against shoes-off at parties is that people dress up for parties. A lot of people, particularly women, will chose their outfits very carefully and they the choice of shoes is part of that selction. For them, a party is an occasion to show off their good taste. They would not want to combine their cocktail dresses with barefeet.

In response I would say that parties are hardly the only occasions for dressing up. Ladies can show off their fancy shoes in restaurants or at the races. Not all parties are such formal occasions. If a party is a smart-casual event, it is actually quite rude to dress up more smartly than other guests.

The host sets the theme of a party. If it is meant to be a fancy dress party, then you should make the effort to find a costume or stay home. If it is an informal party, leave the suit or cocktail dress at home. If it is a no-shoes party, leave the kitten heels at the door.

I keep making this point, but I will make it again: it is best that guests know in advance that shoe-removal is required. If you are printing fancy invitations, make it known there (with some clip-art maybe?). If people know that they will have to take their shoes off, it will not come as a shock and they can plan their outfit with this in mind. They can bring some nice slippers that complement their outfit if they want and they can avoid long trousers that only look right when worn with high heels.

There is the question of whether it is really possible to hold a formal party while people are shoeless. It may be difficult in the West to maintain an air of formality when everybody is without their shoes, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it not better to be realxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make na effort to keep the party formal. Men can look reasonably smart by combining respectable slippers with their suits and women can look pretty elegant in stocking feet. So all is not lost. If shoes-off in homes becomes more common, shoe-lessnes will probably become less associated with being casual and informal.

There are some people who will certainly be far more happy and comfortable to party without their shoes on. As I argued in a previous post, it is not simply a matter of giving these people the choice. At a shoes-on party, those who take it upon themselves to remove their shoes are likely to get their feet squashed and to have to walk on a soggy carpet. Shoes-off for all guests makes it easier for those who want to take their shoes off.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Climbing on Seats

re-post

At my church, there are a lot of children who like to clamber on the seats; climbing them, jumping on them or just putting their feet up on them.

Some parents are careful enougth to ensure that their children remove their shoes before doing this. However, some parents allow their children to climb on top of the seats with their shoes on. This is very anti-social.

It is not nice to sit on a seat where some child's dirty shoes have been. If you have children and attend church or any other kind of public meeting, please ensure they remove their shoes before climbing and jumping on the seats.

Slippers that look like Shoes

re-post

I do not as a rule always remove my shoes when visiting other people's homes. In Britain, removing shoes is not the norm and might be considered odd or even rude. However, some people would like visitors to remove their shoes, but are afraid to make the request. I should very much like to encourage those people by my behaviour.

Hence, I only remove my shoes if the host is not wearing shoes and possibly not even then if I know they wear shoes at home sometimes.

However, some people wear slippers that look like shoes. This really can cause confusion, Men may wear leather slippers or moccasins that could pass as shoes. It was fashionable a couple of years ago to wear these slip-on sneakers. Some people started wearing them indoors as slippers. At the moment, it is very fashionable for girls to wear outdoor shoes that are identical to slippers. If somebody is wearing those indoors, how am I suppposed to know if they are slippers or not? In the summer, some people may use indoor-only flip flops as slippers.

So people, if you would like people to remove their shoes in your house, but are too polite to say, please wear slippers that look like slippers and leave lots of shoes by the door to make it obvious.

Or better still, just pluck up the courage to say "We remove our shoes in this house." You may be surpised how gracious people will be.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Your Home- Shoes on or Off?

Your Home- Shoes on or Off?

Blog post by Michele Cheplic

A bit of Sixties Nostalgia

Everybody's crazy for those kinky boots, kinky boots

Great. Just make sure you take them off at the door.

Modernist Aesthetics

Time for a post on art.

I do have quite a fondness for Modernism in art and architecture.

A central principle in Modernist design is that form should follow function. Unnecessary decorative motifs shoud be discarded in favour of the absolute minimal of features. Beauty is in functionality.

A really beautiful example of this aesthetic must surely be the Dyson cleaner- sleek, smooth and efficent.

But the ultimate ideal of Modernist architecture is surely the heavenly New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21. The city is an enormous cube, like the Borg of Star Trek (though some Bible scholars think it is a pyramid). The decorative elements of this city- the gold, the precious stones and the pearls are not additional features built on, but are part of the very fabric and structure of the city.

To apply this to the subject of this blog, should lead to the conclusion that shoes should not be worn in homes. Shoes lose their practical funtion once one enters the home. They become an encumberence; an unnecessary decorative feature. One would only wear shoes in homes out of social tradition, and tradition has no part to play in the Modernist vision.

Minimalism rules and this applies to footwear! The stockinged foot is far more in keeping with the Modernist notion of beauty than the fancy Manolo Blahnik shoe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hospitality part 2

Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surpised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hospitality

As Christmas (Saturnalia) and the New Year approaches, hospitality will be on the minds of many.

There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality. Again, this is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted.

When I get my own house or apartment, I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Neat Freaks?

It is commonly thought that people who insist on shoes-off in their homes are neat freaks who are obsessed with keeping their homes clean and tidy.

I dare say that there are some people who prefer shoes-off who are genuine neat freaks. And those who are Obsessive-Compulsive about cleanliness may well be among the shoes-off community.

Of course this is culturally relative. In Japan it is thought that money is dirty and unhygeinic because it is handled by untold numbers of people. Japanese people also regard any objects placed in bathrooms, such as books or ornaments to be 'dirty'. A person in a western society who held such attitudes would almost certainly be regarded as Obsessive-Compulsive.

I have known a number of people who really were excessive in their desire to keep their homes clean. Interestingly, these people did not require visitors to remove their shoes. I suspect that they probably spent so much time in cleaning their homes that they were happy to waste time cleaning up afer their visitors.

Many people who keep their homes shoe-free are not domestic goddesses who like nothing better than spending whole days doing spring cleaning. Rather, they are busy working people who have far better things to do. They do not want to clean up for the sake of it, but they know that living in a clean environment is healthier and far more pleasent. Knowing that time is precious they would rather keep the mess to the minimum and spend as little time as possible cleaning up after their visitors. Prevention is better than cure.

Nobody needs a house that is spotless, but it is pointless to allow dirt and dust to accumulate when it could easily be kept out by leaving shoes at the door. A floor is meant to be walked upon, but that does not mean that one should not reduce wear and tear and save time and money.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tip 22: Leave Dirt at the Door - Remove Your Shoes

Tip 22: Leave Dirt at the Door - Remove Your Shoes

Choice

Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.

However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.

Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.

The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."

However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.

Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.

The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Plastic Sheeting on Furniture?

People say some daft things in internet discussion threads. Often when the shoes-off rule is discussed, people suggest that those with shoes-off homes probably leave the plastic sheeting on their furniture.

Does anybody really do that?

There is simply no comparison. Furniture is not going to be damaged by people sitting on it (unless they put their shoes on it- which some silly people do). But your shoes can certainly make a mess of floors and carpets.

Removing shoes at the door wil make you feel more comfortable. Sitting on a sofa with plastic sheeting is horrible, especially in the summer when one is wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

And plastic sheeting on furniture looks really silly anyway.

So I very much doubt that many people who keep their homes shoe-free really do leave plastic sheeting on their furniture.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Observation

I have noticed that people are more likely to remove their shoes in public places when they are wearing sandals or flip flops, as opposed to closed shoes worn with socks.

I suppose their are a number of reasons for this. Sandals and flip flops are easier to remove than sneakers with laces or knee-high boots. People's feet are likely to smell less if they have been wearing open shoes. Also, when people are wearing sandals, their feet are half-naked anyway.

Thus, I suppose the trend for people to wear sandals for a greater part of the year is very positive for shoe-free homes. It seems like only a few years ago when British people wore sandals for about one week in August and when they went abroad. These days, a lot of British people, especially women, seem to wear sandals and flip flops throughout the year, even in winter. Maybe it has something to do with the warmer weather (I am not expressing here any opinion on climate change).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Shoes-Off Signs

I was thinking about shoes-off signs yesterday.

I had thought that people who put them up are a bit lazy, as they did not want to ask people to take their shoes off. It occurred to me, however, that some people might consider a sign more polite than a spoken request for shoes-off.

Some people might feel embarassed and patronised by being asked to take their shoes off. Seeing a sign would save the need for such a request. They would know that shoes-off was required and could pretend that they knew they should take their shoes off without being told.

However, I am not convinced. I think most people, at least over here, would prefer a polite request to a written sign. Once people have got into a routine, they should not need to be told any more.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Arrested

I saw a young woman being arrested in Worcester today, presumably for shoplifting. Naughty girl. She was led out of Debenhams in handcuffs and put into a police van.

Earlier this week, the supermodel, Naomi Campbell was arrested for an alleged assualt. She seems to have this habit of getting into a lot of hot water.

If you are ever arrested in the United Kingdom, you will probably be required to take your shoes off at the police station. Your shoes will either be confiscated at the custody desk or else you will be required to leave them outside the cell.

I suppose the main reason for this is to stop detainees hanging themselves with their shoelaces. But I dare say there are other reasons. After all, in some police stations, they just take your shoe-laces. I suppose they worry about prisonners using their shoes as a weapon (ladies high heels could be lethal) or even just kicking the door of the cell and making a racket. Maybe they also worry about getting their clean cells dirty.

You may not have to take your shoes off when visiting most British homes, but if you are a guest at a police station over here, you are expected to be polite!

Friday, October 27, 2006

An Episode in a Programme I shall never watch

Frequent reference is made in internet discussions of the shoes-off rule to an episode in the sitcom, Sex in the City. I understand that this is a rather immoral programme and I have no intention of ever watching it. According to recent surveys, most young women do not at all approve of the lifestyles of the main characters in Sex in the City.

From internet discussions I have managed to discern a brief synopsis of the sub-plot in this episode. One of the main charcters is invited to a baby shower, at which the hostess requires her to remove her expensive shoes for hygeine reasons. The shoes are stolen during the party and the hostess refuses to pay for the loss, despite receiving some expensive presents from the guest.

This seems a typical attempt to portray those with a shoes-off rule as mean and selfish.

I suppose it does raise the question of whether a host or hostess should be responsible for such a loss in the unlikely event of it happening. It might be a little awkward if the shoes that are stolen, as in that episode, are shoes that cost considerably more than the host would pay for shoes.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Imelda Marcos Mentality

Times Online: Nothing beats a woman's desire to show off a fresh pair of heels

It seems a lot of women have an Imelda Marcos mentality that drives them to buy more shoes than seems feasibly possible. According to a survey, the average woman over forty owns 19 pairs of shoes, but many own far more.

A lot of people, especially Christians, have this idea that consumerism is the great evil of our age. They think that people are driven by advertising to purchase more and more stuff, tearing up the environment and exploiting the Third World in the process. I believe such thinking is naieve and stems from lack of economic knowledge. Spending money, even on lots of pairs of shoes is good. It drives the economy and creates wealth. Even the problem of debt is not the great evil that some people make it out to be. The reason so many people get into debt is not because they are brainwashed by advertising, but because the consequences of debt are not as severe as they used to be. Nobody goes to debtors prison any more.

There is a downside to this shoe obsession for those who prefer shoes-off in their homes. While these ladies probably get the most satisfaction when they buy their fancy heels, they will naturally want to show them off when invited to parties and social occasions. They may not be keen to leave them at the door and spend the evening in bare or stocking feet.

The key to this problem is training and expectation. These ladies with their shoe collections know they cannot always be wearing expensive high-heeled shoes. They cannot wear them on a yacht, they cannot wear them doing yoga, and they will probably not wear them for a casual visit to somebody's home to watch a movie.

If women know in advance that they will need to remove their shoes, then they will not be disappointed about it. They can plan their outfit with slippers or barefeet in mind. If they attend a party or dinner with their Manolo Blahnik's with six inch heels, and have shoe removal sprung on them, they may be a little resentful. If they know that shoes-off is part of the evening, they can regard it as a more relaxed and casual event.

If the ladies with their Marcosite collections want to show off their shoes, they can be assured that the hostess will see them. Plus, their trophy footwear will outdo that of any other guests when left in a line by the door. Otherwise they can always show them off in restaurants or at the races.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open Home Policy

The pastoral assistant (do they really need to use such offices and titles?)at my church and his wife have an open home policy in their house. This means that they are ready to welcome visitors at any time to their home without notice.

Having an open home policy is a really beautiful way for a Christian family to make their house available for the service of the Lord. They are using their home for evangelism, for fellowship with other believers and for ministering to the lonely. This really is a commendable ministry.

Obviously, a family with an open home policy will need to set clear boundaries for their visitors. One boundary I would very much recommend is to request that visitors remove their shoes. While this might not seem like the hosts are rolling out a red carpet for visitors, visitors must remember that the family with the open home are granting access to their house to far more people than an average family. They naturally want this to make the minimal inconvenience to their lives. What is more they can show far more hospitality if they are not cleaning up all the time. A shoe-free home will also be a more welcoming place for small childen who prefer to make use of the floor, rather than the furniture.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Could it Be?

I thought I saw a handwritten 'shoes off' sign in the porch of a house in Droitwich today.

Of course I could have been mistaken, maybe it said 'Coats Off'. I thought it would have been rude to walk up their drive to have a look.

If it was a 'shoes off' sign, it would be the first I have ever seen. Not a British thing at all.

However, I did visit a home once whose owners had put a new floor in their bathroom. They had not yet varnished the wood and so had a sign outside the bathroom asking visitors to remove their shoes before going in. Silly people; what about the carpet in the rest of the house?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka- Wikipedia

Lonely Planet: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Web Server

Sri Lanka- The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Sri Lanka, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Formerly knonw as Ceylon, from where we get the name of a popular variety of tea.

Sri Lanka was badly hit by the Boxing Day Tsunami. Relief efforts have been serioulsy hampered by the long standing conflict between government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers. This conflict has been going on for years. There were some hopes of peace recently, but these seem to have been dashed.

The conflict stems from the ethnic division between the Sinahalese majority who are dominant in government and the Hindu Tamil minority in the north.

Many people think that Buddhism is a peaceful and tolerant religion, however, Buddhist persecution in Sri Lanka of both Hindus and Christians demonstrates this to be a quite false notion.

In my first year of university, I met a couple of theology students from Sri Lanka. I had long hair at the time, and the first time we met, they were surpised by my name, thinking I was a girl. One of them was Anglican, the other Methodist. They were 'Liberal' in theology and believed that people could be saved through false religions. Some western Evangelicals have a funny idea that all Christians in the Third World are really conservative. Sadly, that is not the case in many denominations.

The Sri Lankan government has tried hard to restrict evangelism and it is very difficult to enter the country as a missionary. Much prayer is needed for an end to such restrictions.

For information on the persecution of Christians worldwide visit:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes

Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Smelly Feet

Apologies for raising less pleasent aspects of this issue.

The issue of 'smelly feet' is often raised as an argument against the Shoes-Off rule.

In Western society there seems to be a lot of paranoia about the phenomena of 'smelly feet'. I think this is simply a result of people not removing their shoes very often. Your feet will actually smell a lot less if you remove your shoes regularly. It is unfortunate that we in Britain have not yet reached the civilised heights of Finland, where it is acceptable to remove shoes in business meetings and on trains (not that people do not do so in Britain, but it is frowned upon somewhat).

Nevertheless, I think most people worry too much about this issue. People imagine their feet smell far more than they actually do. I have met very few people who let off much of an aroma after removing their shoes, and most of them were people who did not wash and change their socks regularly.

If people know in advance that they need to remove their shoes, they can make sure they wear clean socks, or even better, bring slippers with them. If they are especially worried about it, they can use some of those fancy foot deoderents.

Feet wil smell a lot less if people wear sandals. Sneakers are best avoided in favour of leather shoes.

Some people will say 'I would rather put up with a dirty floor than people's smelly feet.' Well, I guess people must set up their onw priorities. However, stinking feet will leave with the guests. A dirty floor will not. Nor will the dust they brought in on their shoes, and that is very bad for your health.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Athlete's Foot

An unpleasent fungal infection.

A lot of people mention Athlete's Foot as an argument against people having a shoes-off policy. However, this is a quite unnecessary concern.

Athlete's Foot is generally associated with swimming pools and changing rooms. It is possible to catch Athlete's Foot on one's barefeet at a swimming pool or in a locker room. However, recent research indicates that this is not so likely as was previously thought.

Most importantly, the reason people catch Athlete's Foot in those places is not because people there are barefoot, but because the fungus needs a warm and wet environment. People get exposed to the fungus in the damp conditions. If they fail to dry their feet, the fungus is very comfortable and even more so if the victim puts on sweaty socks.

The fungus will not survive long on the clean, dry floor or carpet of a person's home and so you are very unlikely to catch Athlete's Foot in somebody's house, even if the owner has the condition.

What is more, people who are not wearing socks are likely to put on sandals when they leave, as opposed to closed shoes. Thus, they will not create the right environment for the condition to thrive.

Of course, if you are worried about it, you can always bring some slippers or socks when you visit a shoes-off home.

People who have a shoes-off policy ought to let their visitors know in advance and be willing to lend a pair of clean socks, if not slippers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Boat Show

My sister and her boyfriend visited an exhibition of luxury yachts in Southampton recently. As is normally the case with such exhibitions, they were required to remove their shoes before entering the boats.

If you ever visit a luxury yacht, you may well be asked to remove your shoes. You may have non-marking deck shoes, but the owners may not know where you have been walking in those deck shoes.

Yachts are one of those rare situations when rich and famous ladies have to do without their stilettos. I understand Victoria Beckham wears high heels on her yacht, but I guess she is entitled to wreck her own property. If she needs to wear high heels on a yach, one rather wonders how she manages to cope on her visits to Japan.

Readers, you may not have the money to own a luxury yacht, but if you have a beautiful wood floor, you can easily keep it as shiny and smooth as any the deck of any yacht by always keeping it free from shod feet. Would that not be nice?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shoes Off Outside the Door: My Sister's Shoe Box

I visited my sister, Heather, in her beautiful apartment in Poole, near Bournemouth this weekend.

I was delighted to find that my dear sister had become something of an Offalist. Most of the people in her block of flats leave their shoes outside the doors of their apartments (like detainees at a police station leaving their shoes outside the cells!) to protect the fine carpets. My sister and her boyfriend adopted this practice when they moved in. However, a letter from the landlords had warned that shoes left in the corridor presented a fire hazard. Hence, my sister and her partner are now storing their shoes in a big box outside their apartment. Sadly, Heather did not see fit to enforce her shoes-off policy and she put her shoes on inside the apartment once or twice. However, it is vry encouraging that young people like Heather and her neighbours are more inclined to keep their homes shoe-free than the previous generation.

During the night, the people in an apartment below were playing loud dance music. I think they might have been having something of a party. While it was a little annoying, it was nice to think that it might at least have been a no-shoes party.

Friday, October 06, 2006

37 Reasons for Having a Shoes-Off Policy in Your Home

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37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:

1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear them all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?

Children

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I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Many childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons.

Silly Argument

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Some people argue that even if you have a strict no-shoes policy in your home, you could still spill coffee or red wine on your carpet and cause permanent stains.

This is true. You can still spill red wine or coffee in a shoeless home and cause permanent stains (those of you who are teetotal will say 'Don't drink red wine then.' As it happens, I do not drink wine, just beer and spirits. I do drink black coffee, though).

However, do you want a carpet with stains that is full of dust, dirt and bugs or a carpet which has stains, but is a lot cleaner?

Stains do not cause wear and tear to carpets, though they are messy. The tiny grit particles that your shoes pick up do wear your carpet out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to....Kazakhstan!

Kazakhstan page in Wikipedia

Lonely Planet Guide: Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Country Analysis Brief

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Kazakhstan, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes in homes.

Kazakhstan has been in the news recently as a result of the actions of one Sacha Baron Cohen, a Jewish comedian from the UK. He used to pretend to be a Black urban television interviewer called Ali G. This character was terribly funny, but very rude. More recently, he is pretending to be Borat, a spoof television interviewer from Kazakhstan. He has caused incredible offence to the government of Kazakhstan by making a mockery of the country, presenting the Kazakh people as misogynist and anti-semitic. The government of Kazahstan are so offended that they have invested millions in a film entitled Nomad about the history of their nation.

Kazakhstan is a huge country. After Russia, it is the largest country in the former Soviet Union or the Commonwealth of Independant States (CIS). Most of the country is steppes (arid grasslands), with some desert and several mountain ranges. It does have quite a bit of fertile land, where considerable amounts of wheat are grown.

Kazakhstan is becoming quite rich, as a result of its plentiful supplies of gas.

Kazakhstan has quite a bit of ethnic diversity. As well as the Turkic Kazakhs, there are Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Kurds and others. Old Stalin had a nasty habit of taking whole people groups, loading them in trucks (donated by the Yanks during the war) and dumping them in the mroe desolate regions of the Soviet Union. Hence, there are Germans and Koreans in Kazakhstan. The German community has diminshed considerably since the end of Communism. The presence of Koreans in the country has been somethign of a blessing for Kazakhstan (and other Central Asian republics) since most were faithful Christians fleeing persecution by the Japanese.

Kazakhstan is mostly Islamic, but Christians make up a large minority.

Radio broadcasts make up a key part of strategies for evanglizing Kazakhstan. Radio ministries include Trans World Radio and the Far East Broadcasting Company.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How to survive in Sweden without offending anyone

How to survive in Sweden without offending anyone

Early Inspiration

Before my family moved to Worcester, I spent six months in a secondary school in Somerset.

In this school, some assembly meetings were held in the gymnasium. The pupils were required in these meetings to remove their shoes to protect the shiny floor. The teachers, however, kept their shoes on. That is apart from one senior teacher who always removed her high heeled shoes in the gym and conducted the assemblies in her stocking feet.

I was quite surprised at the time by her removing her shoes. Although it was only in recent years that I have become dogmatic about this subject, the memory of her concern for that delicate wood floor stayed with me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blueprint: Off with their Shoes

Blueprint: Off with their Shoes

Apartment Therapy: Hot or Not?

Apartment Therapy: Hot or Not?

A jolly American person made this hilarious comment about me on this discussion thread. I had not even commented on it until today:

"Totally agree with your point. What people think in far off countries like Japan, Norway and Canada is irrelevant to us Americans. As Americans, we choose to exercise our freedom to wear shoes in other peoples' homes. Asking guests to remove shoes is not just rude, but unamerican.

Don't believe me? Look at this link. Some freedom-hating shoe-removal nazi gave an award to the place where removing shoes in peoples' homes is most customary. And guess where that was? AFGHANISTAN! That's right, folks, home to the Taliban, you know who, and taking off your shoes."


I did not realise how famous I am.

Stewardship

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I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Beach and Carpet

The link below makes the point that many beaches are often not very clean, as they are frequently soiled by animal excrement.

It is remarkable that people will happily walk barefoot on beaches that, despite looking clean, are contaminated by animal excrement, rubbish, pollution and other filth and yet will make a fuss if they are asked to remove their shoes and go barefoot on somebody's clean carpet or shiny hardwood floor.

Do people really think that beaches are more hygienic than floors that are cleaned regularly?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Re-Posting

I hope nobody is getting irritated by all the re-posts.

It is not because I have run out of things to write about. I have some fresh posts planned.

The reason for all the re-posts is that some people may be new to the blog and deserve the chance to read earlier posts without having to search the archives.

This blog is not a diary or journal. Both Angie and I have our own journal-type blogs which you are welcome to visit.

This blog has an agenda. That is, to demonstrate that shoes do not belong in the house past the door. Slippers, socks or barefeet are okay indoors; shoes are not. For this reason, I am posting older entries again. This blog is not about coming up with new things; it is about promoting an old custom that is shared by a significant part of the world's population (including the People's Republic of China).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Window Dressing

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You may have noticed that retail staff often remove their shoes before setting up displays in shop windows.

The managers of their shops obviously fear the appearance of scuff marks on the shiny window ledges.

If you have a wood or vinyl floor, do you care about it as much as the managers of these shops care about the window ledges of their shops? Shoes can so easily cause scratches or leave marks on your floor. Especially if people get stones or other sharp stuff stuck on the sole.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Interesting Comment

I doubt that many people have spent as much time as I have reading chat-room discussion threads on the subject of the shoes-off rule.

I recall reading an interesting comment from a girl on a discussion thread. She said that while she wore shoes at home, she really liked it when her friends required her to remove her shoes when visiting their homes. She found it very comfortable.

It does seem odd that she did not adopt the habit of always removing her shoes in her own home, given that she liked doing so in other peoples' homes. Perhaps she was a little absent minded or not very good at getting into routines.

Given the Golden Rule of 'do unto others..' you might have thought she would have decided to have a 'no shoes' policy in her own home.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?

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You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Relaxation of Airport Security will not extend to Footwear

This week the strict security restrictions on hand luggage at British airports will be relaxed somewhat. Passengers will be able to take larger bags and some essential liquid items. Musicians will also be allowed to carry their musical instruments. However, for now, passengers will still be required to remove their shoes at the X-Rays.

Big deal. I would rather take my shoes off at airport security than be blown up in mid-air.

Hopefully, with British passengers having to remove their shoes at airports, they will be more relaxed about removing their shoes when entering homes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

'Wearing Shoes in Your Home is a Health Hazard' by Paul Rebhan

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Paul Rebhan wrote:

When you walk through almost any part of a city, and even in the suburbs, your shoes pick up a multitude of unwanted hangers-on. If you wear those shoes in your home, you run the risk of endangering your family's health by spreading viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, other pathogens, allergens and toxic substances.

Nocent items such as these may be commonly found on sidewalks and streets:

- Remnants of feces from dogs, cats, rodents, birds, other wildlife and sometimes, even humans.
- Urine from the same sources.
- Excretions such as saliva, mucus, sweat and sometimes, blood or vomit.
- Remains from insects and rodents
- Remnants of garbage including food waste and toxic cleaning products.
- Residue from insecticides, oils, gasoline and grease.

Even indoor spaces such as the floors of restrooms are frequently contaminated with urine and hospitals or doctors' offices are fertile hotspots for a variety of germs that may end up on your shoes. Soil around homes and parks may be contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and toxic wood preservatives.

Residue from humans and animals may contain common viruses and pathogens such as hepatitis, herpes, E. coli, tetanus, rabies, strep, hantavirus, or cold and flu causing germs. Garbage residue may carry traces of toxic products such as formaldehyde, industrial chemicals, dyes and lead. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of "Power Healing", lead tracked into a home and accumulated in carpet dust often exceeds levels requiring clean-up at Superfund toxic sites.

These items may be on the ground in very small deposits that are unnoticeable to the naked eye. Shoe soles are generally made of leather, rubber or other porous materials that allow the absorption of microscopic substances. Wiping shoes on a doormat or rug may remove some of the larger materials, but will not eliminate microscopic germs.

Once inside your home, contaminated shoes become a conduit for disease, spreading germs to carpets and even hard-surfaced floors. If you walk on those floors later without shoes, the germs can spread to your feet and be carried to other places such as your bed. If children are allowed to play on the floor, germs can easily spread to their hands, clothing and mouths. Even pets are at risk of picking up and spreading these germs.

In his book "The Secret Life of Germs", Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D. suggests a simple way to avoid this hazard: "One should adopt the hygienic Japanese practice of having separate footwear for outdoors and indoors, and leaving the outdoor shoes at the threshold".





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References: Philip M. Tierno. Jr, Ph.D.: The Secret Life of Germs, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: An Ounce of Prevention, Dr. Leo Galland: Power Healing, Spectrum Magazine: Our Daily Dose of Poison, Logan County, CO.: The Online Courthouse, Gary Null, Ph.D.: Natural Living with Gary Null

Monday, September 18, 2006

The National Trust

The National Trust is a great British organisation. It is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Britain. I always love visiting some of the beautiful stately homes and country gardens preserved by the National Trust.

One of the rules of the National Trust, is that if you visit one of their country houses and you are wearing heels smaller than a postage stamp, you will be given plastic slippers to wear inside. Alternative slippers can be purchased to wear instead if you want. This rule is meant to protect the floors of their properties.

Of couse, I doubt that many women would visit a country estate wearing stiletto heels.

Your home may not be as old or valuable as a National Trust-preserved Georgian house, but high heeled shoes may cause damage to marble floors, wood floors, laminate floors and carpets. Time to put those slippers on.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Life in Russia

Life in Russia

Advice for those staying in Russia. It recommends bringing a pair of slippers, as shoes are always removed in Russian homes (the streets there are filthy).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

How Should One Phrase the Request for Shoes-Off at the Door?

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How do you ask visitors to remvoe their shoes in your home?

Shoes off, please.

This is not very polite. Only suitable for family members and close friends who do not really need telling.

Could you take your shoes off, please?

Very simple and direct.

Would you mind removing your shoes?

This is very polite, but it is rather negative. It implies that it would be an endurance for the guest to take his or her shoes off. They would probably be more comfortable for having removed their shoes.

We have a house rule here that we do not wear shoes in the house.

Avoid the word house rule. Your guests will feel that they are being treated like children.

We want to look after our carpet. Please take your shoes off.

Best not to say this. It implies that you care more about the carpet than your guests. This is probably true, but you must not show it.

We have small children and they play on the floor. Could you take your shoes off, please?

If you do have small children, use this one. It will not be refused.

Could you put these slippers on, please?

See below for my thoughts on guest slippers. Most English guests would find this a bit weird.

Feel free to take your shoes off.

Very positive. Women will probably take the hint, but it is too subtle for the average bloke. Or they might just call your bluff.

Feel free to take your shoes off, please.

Not very grammatical, but a bit less subtle.

We all take our shoes off here.

This may work, it is human nature to try and fit in with others. Again, they might call your bluff.

(in Summer only) I get Hayfever. Could you take your shoes off, so as not to bring any pollen in?

Medical reasons are the best.