Saturday, January 08, 2011

Guest Post from Richyrich no.3

(You are welcome to offer non-fictional guest posts. My email address will be supplied on request)

Clare's Story

Clare is a 28 year old secondary school English teacher in south London. She is single and lives alone in a flat that she bought 3 years ago. She paid a high price for the flat and she is heavily mortgaged. Indeed she probably wouldn't have been able to buy it at all if it wasn't for a legacy she received from her late grandmother and help from her middle class parents, both of which paid towards the deposit. However, her mortgage commitments mean that she can't go out socially as often as she'd like and also that she wouldn't be able to afford to replace much in the flat should it be worn out or damaged. Having to pay off her student loan doesn't help either.

After she graduated from University 6 years ago, Clare wasn't sure what she wanted to do in terms of a career, and (being fancy free at the time)she decided to go to Japan for a year to teach English as a second language. Prior to her going there, she wasn't really familiar with shoes off policies. She had heard of a few people who did require visitors to their homes to take their shoes off but both her and her family regarded such people as somewhat eccentric and obsessive.
However when she went to Japan, Clare very soon noticed that people there not only routinely removed their shoes both in their own and in other people's homes but also in many other public places as well. Whilst she willingly complied with the local culture, she still thought it a bit strange at first. However, after some 2 months she got used to the practice and began to see its merits in terms of keeping the place clean as well as comfort.

After returning to the UK, she thought that it was a good idea but as her family were dyed in the wool shoes on people, she continued wearing them indoors. When she moved into her flat things changed. The previous owner had beige carpets installed and although Clare liked them she was worried about keeping them clean, she did think of changing them but knew that that was something she couldn't really afford. Then she had an idea, yes, be like the Japanese and insist on no shoes at her flat. At first she was rather hesitant about asking that of her guests but after a while she explained to them about how they did things in Japan and how clean their homes were as a result. At first her friends were rather surprised but are now coming round.

As I said earlier, Clare hasn't got enough disposable income to go out a great deal at weekends and a lot of her friends are in a similar situation. Therefore they go to each other's homes and have a few drinks and a chat there instead, and maybe go out for a few drinks for last orders. Her friends have now discovered that they feel more relaxed when drinking and chatting in their stockinged feet and have now started adopting the policy in their own homes. Even Clare's parents now remove their shoes at her home without protest. They don't show much sign of adopting it in their own house but they take the attitude of "it's her place and we've got to respect her wishes when we're there".

Although Clare enjoys the single life, she's hoping to meet her "Mr Right" one day but she admits that she's quite choosy, and as well as wanting someone who's kind, decent, intelligent with a sense of humour, she's also listed as one of her preconditions someone who will share her "shoes off" philosophy. She would probably rather be on her own for the rest of her life than compromise on that, it's now such a natural part of her way of life. Also any children she has will be taught to remove their shoes in all houses from when they're very young!


richyrich said...

This is another fictional guest post from me.

Sandra is 47, divorced and lives with her 2 teenage children in rural Shropshire. Until her divorce 3 years ago the family (along with Sandra's now ex husband)lived in Birmingham where his work was.
After the divorce Sandra decided to relocate with the children to a rural area, believing the quality of life to be better there and also thinking the local school was better than the one in Birmingham the children used to attend.
With her share of the proceeds from the sale of the marital home, Sandra bought a cottage off the main road. The way leading to it is a track and the driveway is muddy. The cottage was done up by the previous owners shortly before Sandra and her children moved in and they installed laminate flooring throughout it. Sandra noticed very soon that her and her children's shoes got dirty walking along the muddy driveway and that when they came in, the laminate floors got dirty alomst immediately as they traipsed around the house, requiring her to get the mop out several times a day. She was finding this tiresome and was wondering when would be the solution. One option would have been to tarmac the whole drive, but for her as a single parent money is rather tight so she decided against it. That left only one other possibility, for her and the children to take their muddy shoes off as soon as they got in.

They have now got used to this and are doing it without thinking. Sandra has become friendly with a few people from the nearby village and they sometimes come over for a coffee and a chat. She was rather hesitant about asking them to take their shoes off at first, fearing that they might think of her as a "neatness freak" but she needn't have worried. Most visitors, upon seeing that the track outside is muddy and her clean floors inside, and also seeing Sandra and her children in slippers, barefoot or stockinged feet and shoes piled up by the front door, take theirs off without being asked and don't even say anything about it.

Moderate Mouse said...

Today, for the first time this winter, we had enough snow to actually accumulate on the ground.
I ended up walking through it twice today: to my volunteer work this morning, and home just a few minutes ago. For the former, I brought an extra pair of shoes to change into just before going inside so as not to track snow onto the carpet.(The thrift store where I volunteer has an entryway with a concrete ground and an awning over it if that tells you anything.) For the latter, I took my sneakers off shortly after getting in, but since we generally store shoes in the bedroom, I had to carry them with me as I walked to my bedroom in my socks and then put my slippers on. (You could say I'm grateful for the slipper habit I started in March for whenever I have no intention of leaving the house, or at least going outside, for a while.)

Celestial Fundy said...

Rich, thanks. I might post that sometime.