Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mindset

When I first came to the conclusion that it is more sensible to have a shoes-off policy in one's home, I suspected that when I finally got my own place, I would not have the courage to actually ask visitors to remove their shoes. Well, I have not got my own place yet, so I have not been put to test. However, I am pretty sure that I would insist on shoes-off at the door.

I have come to realise that favoring shoes-off in homes is not just an opinion or preference, but it is a mindset. Once one comes to the conclusion that shoes are a source of dirt, then the shoe becomes abject. One developes a sense of disgust at the thought of someone wearing shoes in a home. I do not like to see my mother keeping her shoes on- it does not seem right. I cannot bear the thought of someone coming in my bedroom with their shoes on. I am pretty sure that I would ask someone other than my parents (it is their house) to take off their shoes before entering my bedroom.

This is why most Chinese or Japanese people will insist on shoes-off in their homes, even when they live in the USA or the UK. They may live in every way like Americans or British, but they find it difficult to shake off the abject association of shoes with dirt.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I Liked these Guests

My parents entertained a family of four to dinner at their house today.

Upon entering, the wife offered to remove her shoes. My mother declined this offer (silly mummy) and the woman and her daughter proceeded in with their shoes on. Then the husband and his son entered and also offered to take their shoes off. My father replied "Thanks, that would be appreciated." I was a little surprised by his saying this. The woman and her daughter noticed this and removed their shoes.

Maybe there is hope that British etiquette will change. It was beautiful to see a line of shoes by the door.

We enjoyed a meal of Beef Casserole with New Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Sweetcorn. We had a Plum Crumble for dessert with Custard.

The guests were from my parents Church. They were very Charismatic in theology, but were quite lovely.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Ukraine!

Ukraine Page in Wikipedia

Welcome to Ukraine

Ukraine-Today.com

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

We all cheered when the Orange Revolution took place in Ukraine last year. After decades of Communist oppression, the people of Ukraine, at least, those in the western Ukraine, demanded their freedom. The attempted poisoning of the now president Yushenko was one of the most dramatic revelations of last year.

Things have not been easy in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution. The sacking of prime minister Tymoshenko (definitely the most attractive woman in international politics) has been a subject of controversy and the conflict with Russia over gas prices is not a good sign for the future. Still, after centuries of foreign rule, things are not looking too bad for Ukraine.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

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

Thailand Page in Wikipedia

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thailand.com

Thailand-WWW Virtual Library

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Thailand, because it is the custom in that country to remove shoes at the door. This is almost universally the norm in
South-East Asia.

Thailand has recently been in the news in Britain after the rape and murder of a British tourist. This week a Thai court handed death sentences to the murderers. There was a strong expectation that they would receive a life sentence, because they had pleaded guilty to their charges. It is thought that the verdict was politically motivated. I say this is Biblical justice and those men deserve to die.

Thailand has become a very popular tourist destination for British people as a result of cheap airlines. It was once a destination primarily for gap-year students. Older people are now travelling to Thailand. One can only hope that some of them may pick up the practise of removing shoes at the door while they are there.

Thailand is a Buddhist country. There is some persecution of Christians in that country. For more information on the persecution of Christians worldwide:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It Must Have Been Awful

When I was 18, I attended a party in a village outside Worcester. We began the party by having a barbecue in a field. When it got dark, we were invited into the host's parents' house to watch movies.

There were about 15 of us and we had just come from a field which was sligthly damp. Our host did not ask us to remove our shoes, despite the fact that they must have been dirty and had probably picked up dung of some sort.

I cannot bear to think about what the carpet in that house must have looked like the next day.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Vanessa's Gift All Natural Cleaning Products: All Natural Cleaning Products

Vanessa's Gift All Natural Cleaning Products: All Natural Cleaning Products

Some advice about toxins and dust control. I do not worry about cleaning products like the author of this post does. She does encourage having a shoes-off policy, however.

Allergy Control- Reducing Airborne Allergens from your Home

Allergy Control- Reducing Airborne Allergens from your Home

No Correlation

Internet discussions would seem to indicate that within western societies where the Shoes-Off Rule is not the norm, there is no correlation between people who insist on shoes-off in their homes and people who like to remove their shoes because they are more comfortable without them.

There are even people who love to go about barefoot both inside and outside, who find it objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes at the door of a home. That seems quite bizarre.

I suppose the sort of people who like to take their shoes off at every oportunity are people who are quite light-hearted. At a risk of generalizing, I would suggest that they are not the sort of people who worry a lot about cleanliness.

My advice to such people would be that not everybody is as chilled-out as they are. They need to realise that other people need a bit of coaxing before they can relax and kick their shoes-off. If the comfort shoe-removers adopted a shoes-off policy in their homes, they would be able to share their light-heartedness with their visitors.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

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

Turkey- Wikipedia Entry

Turkish Daily News Online

About Turkey

BBC News Country Profile: Turkey

As Turkey has been in the news a lot this week over the Bird Flu epidemic, I decided to grant the National Etiquitte Award to that country. As with most Muslim countries, removing shoes at the doors of homes is customary in Turkey.

Turkey is very keen to become a member of the European Union. I would like to see Britain leave the European Union, ideally, but I guess we that is not too likely. I have mixed feelings about Turkey joining. It would mean a potential huge influx of Islamic immigrants into Europe. That would be worrying. On the other hand, it would draw Turkey away from the possible influence of Islamic extremism. That is why the USA is in favour of Turkey joining. The desire to join the E.U. is putting greater pressure on Turkey to clean up her Human Rights record.

As with nearly all Muslim countries (albeit an officially secular state), some persecution of Christians takes palce in Turkey. For more information on the persecuted of Christians:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Entertaining Hints Page

Entertaining Hints Page

Advice about hospitality.

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

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

Shoes off, please.

This is really rude. 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.

Do not 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 definitely take the hint, but it is too subtle for the average bloke. They might just call your bluff.

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 reason are the best.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?

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. Soem 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.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Korean Observations

Korean Observations

(Live Journal post)

An American Blogger Explores the Trend for Shoeless Homes

An American Blogger Explores the Trend for Shoeless Homes

Not Practical Where I Work

In many Japanese offices, staff and visitors remove their outdoor shoes and change into slippers. This seems absolutely absurd to British people. However, I think that it is quite sensible. In my experience, nearly all offices have really dirty carpets.

However, I realise this would not be practical in the office where I work part-time. People continually come and go between the office and the warehouse. It would not be a good idea to wear slippers in the warehouse.

In the Bathroom

I posted a link to Live Journal article by a guy who is as strict (probably stricter) as I am about removing shoes at the door. He intends in the future to adopt the Japanese practice of having separate slippers to wear in the bathroom. This idea does make a lot of sense. The bathroom is probably one of the least hygienic rooms in the house. Keeping the two floor spaces separate would be a good idea.

Hence, I remove my slippers when I go in the bathroom. Of course, this strategy might fall down in the summer when I do not wear slippers. If I had my own house or apartment, then I might get separate bathroom slippers or flip flops, but not now. With my father being Obsessive-Compulsive about tidiness, I doubt he would like my leaving extra pairs of slippers around the house.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The First Weekly NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... CANADA!

Canada- Wikipedia entry

Government of Canada

World Factbook: Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada


This blog will be giving a weekly award to countries in which removing shoes in homes is customary. The first of these awards goes to Canada. Removing shoes in homes is usually associated with the Far East. Nevertheless, perhaps because of the winter weather, shoes off at the door is the usual policy in Canada.

Canada may be full of liberals and lack the excitement of Yankland, to the south, but its a beautiful country in which most people evidently care about keeping their homes clean.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Arrested and Locked Up

Arrested and Locked Up

If you ever happen to be arrested in the United Kingdom, you will probably be required by the police to leave your shoes outside the cell. In Britain, people may not care about their carpets, but we sure keep our police cells clean ('custody suites' according to official jargon).

Filthy Carpet in a School

Some time ago, I saw a photograph of a primary school classroom in the newspaper. This classroom had an absolutely filthy carpet.

This photograph was an argument in itself for the Japanese practise of removing shoes in schools, universities, offices, hotels and restaurants, let alone homes. Going to far? Ask people suffering from asthma and dust-related allergies.

Article in the Seattle Times in Favour of Shoes-Off Rule

Article in Seattle Times in Favour of Shoes-Off Rule

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An American Moans About the Shoes-Off Rule in Sweden

An American Moans About the Shoes-Off Rule in Sweden

Scandinavian countries may be godless, but they sure look after their wooden floors.

Article in Favour of Shoes-Off Rule

The Inside Track on Clean: Shoes or No Shoes?

Stigma Against Shoes-Off Policy

In an earlier post, I argued that it is really stupid that in Britain the cultural norm is to wear shoes in one's own house and the homes of others. I believe that there is a powerful social stigma against hosts and hostesses that prefer visitors to remove their shoes. It is thought by many people in Britain, that such people are either excessively house-proud or that they are obsessive about hygeine and cleanliness. This stigma is so strong that I know people who certainly are obsessive about cleanliness who would never ask a vitor to remove his or her shoes. Being proud of their supposed tolerance, most British people would respect a Japanese or Thai requirement of shoe removal, but would never tolerate such an expectation from a British person. The stigma against shoe-removing by British people is related to the 'Lady MacBeth' factor- an excessive concern with cleanliness is considered very suspect by British people. Britons are probably less concerned by dirt than other people's (that old British stoicism) and there is a common belief amongst many that a certain level of dirt is rather healthy.

I think the main reason for the opposition to the shoes-off policy is the importance of class in the British mindset. Every middle class Englishman or Englishwoman dreams of being upper-class; and no upper-class person would expect their guests to take their shoes off. If you have money, you can afford to have your carpets cleaned regularly and if they wear out, you can afford to replace them. Hence, if you worry about keeping your carpet clean or wearing it out, you are obviously short of money. British people just have to keep up appearances (ironically, I believe Hyacinth Bucket, the heroine of 'Keeping Up Appearances' has a shoes-off rule. This shows how common she really is).

There is also a powerful stigma against people with 'smelly feet'. Many people are terrified of being exposed as having 'smelly feet'. It seems to be that this is quite irrational- most of the people I have met who claimed to have 'smelly feet' did not create any noticeable aroma after removing their shoes. The only strong foot smells I have encountered are from people who did not wash their socks regularly. Do people in countries where removing shoes is the norm never have smelly feet? The answer is probably yes and no. I suspect that most peoples feet in such countries probably smell a lot less, because shoes are removed more often. Thus, the people in Britain who fear exposure of their 'smelly feet' would find that their feet would smell a lot less if they took their shoes off in their own home and other people's homes. It is probably the case that in shoe-removing countries, any residual foot odour is either ignored or not noticed. Also, the practise of providing guests with slippers, as in Japan or Eastern Europe must considerably reduce this factor.

Monday, January 02, 2006

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

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. Psycologically, 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?

Shoes in Homes: A British Cultural Defect

Can a cultural practise be defective? In the case of British etiquette, I think so. In many cultures across the world, people do not wear shoes in homes. In virtually all of Asia, in the Middle East, in North Africa, in Scandinavia countries, in Canada, the North-western USA, and in Eastern Europe, it is usual to remove one's shoes at the door. But not in Britain. Not in Britain, where we have damp, wet and miserable weather for most of the year.

In Britain, most people will often wear shoes in their homes, ruining their carpets or marking their wooden flooring. It is certainly considered very impolite to ask your guests to remove their shoes. A lot of people will avoid wearing shoes indoors, but they rarely have a consistent policy of removing them at the door. It is common for people to offer to remove their shoes when visiting a friends home, but this is deceptive. The host, according to unspoken convention, must always enthusiastically decline this offer.

I think this is a serious defect in British culture. Wearing shoes in homes is simply stupid. Why have a carpet, or PVC flooring or fine softwood flooring if you intend to walk on it in shoes? Why not simply leave a concrete floor? If you walk on a carpet in shoes, it will wear out a lot faster. If you walk on other kinds of floors in shoes, you will probably leave marks.

There is a health issue involved. Dust is bad for you. One does not generally notice it, but one's shoes pick up dust. Children living in a dusty home have a higher risk of developing asthma. Carpets absorb dust very easily, but even if you dont have a carpet, the dust will build up unless you clean it regularly. Shoes also pick up other stuff, like pesticides, dog excrement (even just traces), petrol fumes and other toxic stuff. Is it really a good idea bringing all this stuff into one's house, or other people's houses?

Perhaps your guests might be embarassed to remove their shoes. Well, provide them with slippers. If people in Eastern Europe can afford to provide their gusts with slippers, I am sure people in Britain can.

Perhaps those bagless Dyson cleaners will help change the British people's attitudes. Those things enable you to see the filth that gets into your carpet. Perhaps also the increase in travel to Asia and the increase in immigration from Eastern Europe will have an influence in persuading British people to shed their shoes at the door.

My Agenda for This Blog

The purpose of this blog is to make the case for the Shoes-off policy. That is removing one's shoes at the door of one's home and also requiring family and visitors to remove their shoes. It is my view that this policy is very sensible. It is better for health reasons, for keeping one's home clean and creating a positive home atmosphere.

The Shoes-off rule is common to many countries. However, it is not favoured in Britain and much of the USA. It is my view that this needs to change and this blog is dedicated to promoting this cause.

Now I dare say that some people will consider this issue to be rather trivial. Well, they are entitled to that opinion. I have discussed many important issues in my worldview blog and have explored Biblical eschatology in my Bible prophecy blog. I have been involved in very interesting online debates in the blogsphere on Free Grace Theology, Calvinism and Ecclesiology. Yes, I could spend all my blogging time talking about really fundamentally important issues, but would it make a difference to the world? Am I more likely to persuade the British government to ban abortion or a few families to remove their shoes at the door? Am I going to make a difference to the world by dealing with the small issues or the big issues?

You might say that as a Christian I should be blogging about God's Word; pointing people to the Scriptures and their need for salvation. I sure do that when I go out doing street evangelism and I discuss theological issues in my other blogs. However, I believe that cleanliness is next to godliness, and I am going to take a stand on this issue.

There are plenty of blogs out there to tell everyone that the world was made in six days and that Socialism is contrary to Biblical principles, but somebody needs to make a case that shoes should not go past the hallway.

Many of the posts in this blog will have been posted first in my worldview blog.