I was prepared. I had flip-flops. I didn't need to wear shoes ever again. In fact, as soon as I got back to my car after making that epic purchase, off came the shoes and socks and I had my first taste of bare feet with protection. Brilliant! Until I stopped off at some more shops on the way home, wearing my new flip-flops, and ended up with the biggest and most painful blister anyone ever did see. Bother.
That put paid to my barefoot activities for a further two weeks, and my flip-flops were consigned to the bottom of the wardrobe. However, once the pain subsided and it started to heal, I decided once again to brave the outside world. But where to start? Where else but Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London! My sister had somehow acquired a couple of tickets for the 2007 Ideal Home Show, so early on a Saturday morning we set off along the M4 in her car. Now, up until this point I hadn't shared my outdoor barefoot shenanigans with anyone else, and had therefore embarked suitably attired in my usual socks and trainers. But unbeknown to my unsuspecting sister, I had my flip-flops in my bag.
Our first stop along the way was to get petrol, very shortly after setting off. I decided now would be a good time to free my feet, so having asked my sister's approval (it was her car, after all), I bared my feet. She of course made sure I had something else to put on them later, and I assured her I had. One long journey to London later, we arrived at Earls Court and parked the car. I was still a little lacking in confidence about the whole thing, so dutifully on went the flip-flops. But that didn't last long.
For one thing, I was still getting used to wearing them and they were a little uncomfortable. So once we were inside and wondering what to look at first, I nonchalantly slipped them off and put them back into my bag. The carpet tiles were a bit rough, but not unpleasant. My sister, however, seemed initially mortified, probably embarassed for me more than for herself. I'm ashamed to admit that a little friendly emotional blackmail sorted that out, and all was well for the rest of the day. I was particularly delighted (and, I might add, surprised) that the only person to mention my bare feet was very kindly warning me to be careful of splinters in the wooden floor upon which we were standing at the time!
My feet remained delightfully free after we left Earls Court to find the car, and even when we stopped for some chips at the Motorway Services on the way home. It wasn't until we were almost home that I put my flip-flops back on, predominantly because of the horrible rough old tarmac of my driveway. I'd ventured out onto that in bare feet before, and it was NOT pleasant. But my first real barefoot day out in public was a fantastic experience, and I thank my wonderful sister for accepting her little brother's latest quirk so easily. My parents were similarly accepting when I gave them the same treatment later that weekend, which has allowed me to enjoy being barefoot a lot more than if I'd kept it secret.
We are Not Alone