Friday, November 28, 2008

SKY T.V. Engineer

We had an engineer come today to fix us up with satellite television. He removed his shoes without being asked.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Down South

I have been living in Hastings since August, when I moved from Worcester.

I have heard that removing shoes in homes is more common here in the south of England than it is in the north. I think that is probably true.

I have not vistited many homes in Hastings, so it is hard to tell, but it does seem that nearly all visitors either offer to remove their shoes or remove them without being asked.

Thai Protests

Looking at pictures of the protests at Bangkok airport, I noticed that the yellow-shirted protesters had removed their shoes before sitting on mats. Sensible asians.

I do think it is dreadful when you see British people sit on picnic blankets with their shoes on.

The protests in Thailand are very interesting, but I have no idea whether my sympathies are with the protesters or the government. The government were elected by the people, but then I understand that electorates can easily be manipulated by oligarchies.

A Tiler

We had a tiler in today to fit some more tiles to our kitchen.

Unlike some of the other workmen we have had, he removed his shoes when walking through our house. Maybe it is because he is a younger men. Young people seem better able to recognise the courtesy of removing shoes in homes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shoes-Off at a Party?

re-post

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 part 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 relaxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make an 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 22, 2008

Answering Philip Howard

"It is your house. And you are entitled to set house rules. But it is the prime function of the hosts to make their guests feel at ease."

Removing shoes will make some people feel more at ease. They will be able to relax and not worry about dirtying their host's carpet.

If a guest has been informed about the need to remove their shoes, they will be at ease about it. Naturally, we are talking here about unexpected guests. These guests are taking more of a liberty in coming and have to take the situation as they find it. For instance, having come unexpectedly, they may have to wait a few minutes for the host to complete some household task.

I do not think that asking an unexpected guest to remove his or her footwear as he or she arrives (however politely) performs this function. This is an occasion to welcome your guest warmly, and put your customary rules on ice, and your fastidiousness in the cupboard.

Philip Howard sees the shoes-off rules as fastidiousness. I disagree with him. I think it is a lovely and very pleasent custom. Asking a guest to remove shoes is not incompatible with a warm welcome. The guest is being invited to make herself at home and become as the host and family are, shoeless.

"The golden rule of Etiket is to think of others before yourself and your carpet."

I have argued before that having a shoes-off rule is not selfish.

Shame on Philip Howard!

Philip Howard, the Times' "etiquette expert" received a question from a correspondent in Swindon about removing shoes. I don't like his answer:


Q.We always take our shoes off when entering anybody’s house. We expect the same of family and guests. If we know people are coming, we inform them by phone to bring their slippers — very nicely, of course. What if somebody unexpected turns up? What do you advise?

Philip Howard: It is your house. And you are entitled to set house rules. But it is the prime function of the hosts to make their guests feel at ease. I do not think that asking an unexpected guest to remove his or her footwear as he or she arrives (however politely) performs this function. This is an occasion to welcome your guest warmly, and put your customary rules on ice, and your fastidiousness in the cupboard. The golden rule of Etiket is to think of others before yourself and your carpet.


Modern Times November 22, Times newspaper

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bible study yesterday

Yesterday was another Bible study at the pastor's house.

I think everybody removed their shoes this time (and it was not raining), including some people who do not always remove their shoes.

The pastor's wife is of Korean origin, so she probably does have a strong preference for shoes-off, though she evidently does not insist upon it.

Jaussi Farm: ALWAYS take your shoes off!

Jaussi Farm: ALWAYS take your shoes off!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Lot: Do You Wear Shoes In Your Home?

My Lot: Do You Wear Shoes In Your Home?

The Daily Green: No Shoes Indoors for the Family! What About the Family Dog?

The Daily Green: No Shoes Indoors for the Family! What About the Family Dog?

One of my most frequent suggestions on how to reduce indoor air pollution, exposure to chemical residue, and general grime — take off your shoes before entering or just after entering your home — seems like a total no-brainer. It's common sense that you shouldn't trudge through the New York City subway (as I do), then track in that truly grim dirt and grime to where your baby is crawling. It used to require some coercing of our friends when they came over back before we all had kids to get them to go shoeless in our home. But now everyone I know with kids takes off their shoes. So much so that our preschool teacher keeps having to remind parents to keep their children's shoes on when they arrive at school. These kids just aren't accustomed to wearing shoes inside.

But there's a population of greenies who hesitate re jumping on the shoe-off bandwagon: dog owners. Why bother taking off their shoes, they ask me, if their dogs are trekking in the same gunk they're supposed to be minimizing? It's a legitimate question and there are several ways of handling it.


I love reading stuff by other people who feel strongly on this issue.

LSJ.com: Shoes off for cleanliness and health

LSJ.com: Shoes off for cleanliness and health

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles: What Are Your House Rules?

Apartment Therapy Los Angeles: What Are Your House Rules?

You can always rely on Apartment Therapy to provide plenty of discussions about the shoes-off rule.

Martha Stewart deserves to be appointed head of the World Bank in honour of her promotion of removing shoes in homes. I think I will write to Mr Obama about it.

Arthur C Clarke (1917-2008)

The famous science fiction writer, Arthur C Clarke, had a shoes-off policy in his home in Sri Lanka. A little unsurpising given this is the custom in Sri Lanka, however, he had a sign to remind western visitors.

David Sylvester (1924-2001)

David Sylvester was a British art critic who was most famous for promoting the artists Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.

I found out that he had a shoes-off policy to protect the carpet in his Notting Hill home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas is coming

Christmas is on its way and with it the party season. A lot of Christmas parties will already be in the planning stage.

With winter weather being snow if you live in New York, or rain if you live in London, you may want to have your party guests remove their shoes to protect the carpet. However, you may be concerned that female guests will want to show off their fanciest footwear as part of their outfits. You might decide, like many who have a shoes-off policy, to make an exception for your Christmas party.

I would suggest that you might want to consider requiring shoes-off at your Christmas party. The reason being that a lot of women will be attending several Xmas parties and thus be having to wear their killer heels a little more often than usual. I recently read a comment in a newspaper about the strain of the party season on female feet. Attending a shoeless party might be quite pleasent for a lot of women; it will give their feet a well deserved rest!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Visiting apartments

I was looking at apartments in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire today. I did not put down a deposit for any of them. I might stay in a trailer park temporarily, or in a Bed and Breakfast if I have to start the job soon.

All of the apartments were vacant. I was not asked by the estate agent to remove my shoes in any of them. Unsurprising, because some of them were not very clean. No doubt the floors and carpets of some of them would be cleaner if the landlords requried the estate agent to ask for shoes-off.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Refuseniks

re-post

If asked to remove their shoes, most people are polite enough to comply. However, it is always possible that there may be some refuseniks.

If somebody refuses to remove her shoes, the host has several options:

1. Not let them in.

2. Let them in, but express one's unhappiness. Not invite them in again.

3. Let them in, express one's unhappiness, but invite them again hoping that next time they will comply.

4. Let them in and say nothing. Not invite them again.

5. Let them in and say nothing. Invite them again in hope that next time they will be more polite.

There is not right or wrong response. Whether you let them in and whether you invite them again entirely depends upon your wishes.

You have every right to refuse to admit somebody to your home. If a person is visiting to sell you a product or service, or to promote their religious organisation (usually Jehovah's Witnesses are polite enough to offer shoes-off) then you might well refuse to let them in. On the other hand, if your boss is visiting, it might be a bad idea to refuse to let her in!

If the visitor is not a close friend, but a person you have invited to dinner in order to make close acquaintance with, you have every right to never let them darken your door again. On the other hand, you may not want to loose a close friend over the issue. However, you might feel more comfortable expressing your unhappiness to a close friend than to a occasional visitor.

There is simply no right or wrong response to refuseniks.

Would you let somebody in your house if they refused to remove their shoes when asked?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Got a job

I got offered a job today. It is in Hertfordshire running a drug and alcohol project in an hospital.

Probably won't start for at least a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Treating other people with respect

re-post

We should always do our utmost to treat other people with respect.

All of us have little things that we are sensitive about. Other people might find it hard to understand those things and may think we are oversensitive about them. However, that does not mean that we should not take those things into consideration.

For instance, some people may not like to hear bad language. If so, you should try as hard as you can not to swear when in that person's company. You may think that is silly. You may think they have the problem, not you and they should deal with it. I disagree. I think that you should respect the fact that those people do not like bad language.

Some people may not like you to smoke when there children are present. You may think that is silly, after all they are not going to be affected by you smoking just one cigarette in front of them. However, perhaps these people do not want you to set an example to your children. You should respect that.

Likewise, some people do not want shoes to be worn inside their homes. This is something important to them.

You may think this is daft. If it is for cultural reasons you may think "They are living in the UK not in China." If it is to protect the carpet you may think "Carpets are meant to be walked on." That is fine. You are entitled to your opinion. However, you should still treat their preference with respect. They are fellow human beings who have the right to their preferences and opinions as much as you do. So please don't complain if you are asked to remove your shoes in such homes.

We should also not be afraid to state our preferences. Nobody is going to know that you would rather they avoided using bad language in front of their children unless you tell them this. In the same way nobody will know that you would like shoes-off in your house unless you make it clear. There is nothing wrong with expressing how you feel and asserting your wishes. You have the right to be respected.