Someone recently said to me, ‘Ooh, aren’t you lucky taking a size 8 shoe. You’ll be able to get first pick in the sales.’
That’s basically code for, ‘Your feet are so freakishly big that no one else could possibly have feet that big too. You have, effectively, OUTGROWN the competition.’
When I tell people that my feet are a UK size 8, they often don’t believe me. But honestly, they really are. They’re not a size 7 that occasionally require a size 8 shoe. No, they’re a fully-paid up member of The Size 8 Club (schleb members: Kate Winslet, Paris Hilton and Uma Thurman) to the point of – dare I say it – borderline size 9. Small children are terrified of them and, very occasionally, tourists attempt to board them, mistaking them for two passing cruise liners.
Sales or no sales, there’s nothing lucky about having super-sized clodhoppers. About 90 per cent of shoes in a size 8 look utterly preposterous on my feet. I might spot a dainty pair of sandals on display but when the shop assistant (‘Sorry, did you say SIZE 8?!’) brings the same pair out in double the length, they look like two canal barges strapped to the bottom of my legs.
Only the other day, a shop assistant shook her head sympathetically and said: ‘Hmm… they ARE lovely shoes but they just don’t look right in a size that big.’
I didn’t always have this problem. But when I was 10 years old, I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, closed my eyes and made a wish. It wasn’t a pony I wished for, or Barbie’s Dream Castle. No, I wished for big feet.
At the time, I was having a competition with a classmate over whose feet were growing the fastest. I was hoping that when my mother next took me to get my feet measured on the machine at Clarks or K Shoes (remember them?), I could skip back to class and proudly announce: ‘My feet have gone up a whole two sizes – beat that, TINY TOES!’
At high school, my skinny legs resembled two golf clubs as the feet continued to grow. Fortunately, they stopped at size 8, sparing me from becoming a true oddity, who could only buy shoes via mail order from BigShoe4U.
But I’ve long since given up on procuring a pair of designer heels – mainly because most stop at size 7. Even many size 8 shoes (Topshop for example) are too tight. And ballet pumps just look like giant, flappy clown shoes.
Every autumn, I picture myself stylishly striding through crisp leaves in a sleek pair of Italian leather knee-highs. It’s a dream that usually ends with me grappling with a pair of boots that are so wide on my legs, they look more like wellies, before fleeing the shop despondently and rueing the day that I was ever cursed with these monstrous stompers.
For reasons which I’m still trying to fathom, boot designers ensure that the calf width of the boot – ludicrously – increases with the size of the foot. So basically, if you’re cursed with huge meaty sausages for legs, are well as big barges for feet, you’re fine. But if you’ve got sparrow’s legs like me, forget it.
Sometimes, I look down at my feet and marvel at the beastliness of them. Occasionally, I hold them up against the husband’s face, and think, ‘My foot is BIGGER than your head!’
The final indignity is that the husband is also a size 8 foot. Technically, we could share shoes. And that’s just plain weird.