Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crossing Boundaries

Being a person who has very clearly defined views on religion and politics, part of what I like about this issue is that it has nothing to do with religion or politics.

You may not like my fundamentalist Christian beliefs. That is fine. Just make sure you visit the links. You may think my morality stinks. You may despise my Conservative politics. You may be, horror of horrors, a member of the Labour party. But if you always remove your shoes at the door, at least we have something in common.

Removing shoes in homes unites people.

Fundamentalist Muslims in Indonesia remove their shoes at the door. So do humanist liberals in Sweden. Hindus in India remove their shoes. So do Christians in South Korea or former Communists in Russia.

It may be that you are an environmentalist. You may remove your shoes because you worry about pollution and toxins. Or you may be an Ecosceptic like me. Nevermind. I can be Green on this issue. Unless being green means only buying a pair of slippers every five years and not twice a year.

You may like to wear slippers in your house, you may prefer to go barefoot. Or perhaps you always wear brightly coloured socks on your carpet.

You may provide slippers for your guests, or you may expect them to bring their own.

You may visit because you just think that stocking feet are kinky. Never mind, you are welcome to visit anyway.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Smelly Feet

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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, July 27, 2007

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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Simply Green: Shoes@Door

Simply Green: Shoes@Door

Richyrich directed me to this blog post.

He also directed me to this article:

Leaving Shoes at the Door Keeps Carpet Like New

We are on a roll!

The young estate agent lead a couple of ladies on a tour of the house again. Before they came in, he asked them if they would not mind taking off their sandals, which they graciously did.

My parents would never ask a visitor to remove her shoes, but it is nice to have an estate agent do it instead. It is also good to see people being gracious about going barefoot in somebody else's house and not making a fuss.

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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Home Viewers Again

A family viewed the house with the estate agent again this afternoon. They all removed their shoes without being asked (well, the adults; the mother prompted her children to remove their shoes) and toured the house in socks or barefeet.

It is good to see people doing this, especially with the wet weather we are getting at the moment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Choice

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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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Am I going Catholic?

I went to the Anglican cathedral to pray today. I knelt down, but before I did I took off my sandals to pray barefoot. That does not seem very Protestant, though it does seem more reverant.

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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home Viewing Today

I had to conduct a tour of the house myself for the first time today. The estate agent was unable to send anyone to conduct the viewing and my parents were at work.

The question was, would I ask them to take their shoes off? On the one hand, it was my parents house and my responsibility was to them. They would never ask for shoes off. On the other hand, it was raining and they would go in my bedroom.

It occurred to me that I could at least ask them to remove their shoes before going up stairs, as soem people do.

As it happened, I did not. The person who came was a middle aged lady who brought her mother with her. I was not going to ask an elderly lady to take her shoes off.

When I took them upstairs, I noticed them stopping before going in my bedroom, when they saw the no-shoes sign on the door (which my parents ignore). But I gestured them in.

Despite the soaking rain, the lady wanted to view the garden, but she left her mother inside. She took her shoes off when she came back in and went back through the kitchen and hall in her barefeet. I thanked her for doing that.

Seattlepi.com: No shoes in my house, please.

Seattlepi.com: No shoes in my house, please.

The perspective of a Japanese person in Yankland.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

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, July 13, 2007

BBC Journalists

I have noticed that BBC journalists very rarely remove their shoes when visiting houses to film and conduct interviews. I appreciate that this is the UK, where most people do not require shoes-off as a rule, but I think it is a nice gesture to take them off without being asked if the people living in the house are shoe-less.

I was just watching BBC News 24 and a journalist visited the mobile home of a man whose house had been flooded. She kept her shoes on, even though the ground outside must surely have been filthy after the flooding.

I get the impression that a lot of BBC journalists hate taking off their shoes. I recall a BBC journalist visited a house where she was asked to remove her shoes. She did so, but the next time she was filmed in that house, her shoes were back on.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recipricocity

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You may not have a baby at crawling age
But if you ask visitors to your home to remove their shoes, you send a message that it is acceptable to keep your home shoe-free. That makes life easier for those who do have crawling babies.

You may not have a new carpet
You may have an old carpet that needs replacing or a wooden
floor that is covered in scratch marks. But if you have a shoes-off policy, it will make it easier for those who do have a new carpet to do the same.

You may not live in an area where there is pesticide on the ground
But if you have a no-shoes rule in your house, it will make those who do need to require shoes-off feel more comfortable about it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Times: Bride attacked groom with high heel

Times: Bride attacked groom with high heel

You really don't want your guests doing this to you. Make sure they take those killer heels off at the door.

I suppose this is probably one of the reasons why the police confiscate the shoes of people they have arrested.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hotel Rooms

Believe it or not, when I am staying in an hotel, I always remove my shoes on entering my room. I even think I would be bothered if somebody visited me in the hotel room and did not remove their shoes.

Monday, July 02, 2007

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.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

National Terror Alert

Britain is on a national terror alert.

Hopefully our airports will maintain the sensible policy of requiring checks on passengers' shoes.