Natasha is 31 and lives with her husband, Stan, on a council estate in Bedfordshire. They have been married for just a year, but had been living together for several years previously. Natasha has three children, one of whom was from a previous boyfriend.
Stan works as a mechanic. Natasha recently started working part-time in a sandwich shop. She had not worked prior to this since she was a teenager. Natasha left school when she was 16 and got pregnant soon after that.
Natasha has a shoes-off policy in her home.
This was a recent decision, after the council redecorated her house and put in a new wooden floor. Natasha was immensely proud of the improvements and decided she wanted to make an effort to keep the place looking nice. She had been a single mother for a number of years and had lived in some flats that were pretty grotty. She was poor then and she and her husband don't have a lot of money to throw around these days either. Her attitude is that you should value what you have got and look after it.
Some of Stan's mates moaned about having to shed their shoes when visiting, but Natasha soon put them in their place, "Fussing like a bunch of girls, you lot. Do you think your hard do you, moaning about your cold feet?"
With three children, it is not easy to keep their house clean, so reducing the dirt from foot traffic went a long way.
Natasha had also been prompted to institute the no-shoes rule when she read in Hello magazine that Mishelle Beckfield, the wife of the famous footballer Wayne Beckfield, required people to take their shoes in her home. Natasha adores Mishelle Beckfield. She would love to dress like her, but lacked both the disposable income and the slender figure of the footballer's wife.
As with many of the more prominent WAGs, Mishelle had a fair dose of luck on her side. Like many young women, she had spend a fair bit of time in the pubs and clubs where the young players of a minor football club used to hang out. She became the girlfriend of one of the players, and with her boundless enthusiasm behind him, Wayne became the star of a major football team within a matter of years, and scored a crucial goal for England in the World Cup. Their marriage had been a major media event that was featured in the celebrity rags of every soccer-loving nation.
Mishelle very much enjoys the celebrity lifestyle and has been able to meet film stars, supermodels pop musicians and was even the dinner guest of a French philosopher (whose conversation she did not find particularly interesting). Mishelle appeared in the reality show "You're a celebrity, I presume?" in which celebrities got to explore jungles in remote parts of the world. While she enjoyed the media attention, she found it something of an ordeal and needed a number of shopping trips to recover.
Mishelle has a shoes-off policy in her homes, which include her Georgian estate in the home counties, her villa in the south of France, her luxury apartments in New York and Paris, and you could probably include her yacht, on which she spends a fair amount of time.
It was actually the yacht that got Mishelle wedded to the idea of having a shoes-off policy in her homes. Before getting her own yacht, she had spent plenty of time in other peoples' yachts. She knew the drill; a yacht is a stiletto free zone. However much you might spend on shoes, they were not acceptable on a yacht. This was not too much of an hassle with her perfectly pedicured feet.
Mishelle had noticed that the wood floors in her homes seemed to take a fair amount of punishment from stiletto heels, both from hers and those of her friends. Sure, she had plenty of money coming in from her husband's lucrative transfer deal and the royalties from her ghost-written autobiography, but why throw it down the drain on repair bills? Take care of the thousands, and the millions will look after themselves.
The nation's most desired hostess wasted no time in laying down the law. If her friends could look glamorous in their bare feet at boat parties, they could look just as glamorous sans stilettos when visiting her. The gossip columns managed to get a few snarky comments about her shoes-off rule, but what did Mishelle care? She was used to journalists bitching and she suspected they were probably just as precious about their crumby little apartments in London.