Foot, Where?

I need your help.

I abandoned civilization and moved out into the countryside some forty years ago.  I have always, though, worked ‘in town’ and so the journey from home to work, from ‘back of beyond’ to, I presume ‘beyond’, is a daily, and largely uneventful, trek.  I take, not the fastest, nor the shortest, but the most picturesque route.  Along the way, I have grown used to the sight of all manner of squashed fauna, together with the discarded detritus of something that was once-upon-a-time finger lickin’ good, until, presumably, it began to smell like old socks in the car, whence it was tossed from the speeding window into the hedgerow from where the quaint check-shirted country folk gather it up, pausing only to loosen their braces and doff their tweedy caps, before it chokes the livestock.  This is my regular drive to the daily grind through a green and pleasant Drive-Thru rubbish dump and abattoir… 

Perhaps it is what they mean by Urban Sprawl.  I think it must be so, because an awful lot of people appear to be moving their beds out here – or at least their mattresses – which inhabit almost every gateway and length of single-track undergrowth past which I drive.  Perhaps this is what those nice gangmasters mean when they offer full bed and board to their Eastern European vegetable pickers.  The countryside does, after all, offer its own all-you-can-eat buffet – providing you don’t pick the wrong thing and find out, much too late, that you are ineligible for National Health Treatment.

Most things have some kind of logical explanation if you search hard enough (although the reasoning behind carefully clearing up your darling pooch’s odorous little package before dumping the plastic bag in which it is contained onto the path is a bit of a stretch) but the explanation I now seek may be even harder to find.  You may recall (it seems a very long time ago now) at the top of this piece, that I mentioned needing your help, well, here we are, at last, approaching the very foothills of my mountainous quandary.  Forgive me, I am getting there…

The other day I was running along a stretch of road between this village and the next, a stretch of country lane about 1km in length, when I stumbled across a flip-flop.  (Not literally of course, that would be quite a different tale.)  It was a single flip-flop (I checked – no wedding ring) blue, left foot and I couldn’t help but wonder how it got there.  Who, mid-way between two villages, might have lost a flip-flop, presumably without noticing, and carried on hobbling towards the next conurbation?  I cannot imagine a way in which it could have fallen inadvertently from a car – there is nowhere to stop.  Nor can I imagine it could have been lost by a cyclist.  Cycling is never easy in such footwear, but I believe that you would notice soon enough if you were not wearing one.  The pedal is far from the comfiest of things to have pressed against the sole.  How, and why, did the flip-flop get there?

I continued to mull this over when, a couple of days later, I went for my next run through the other end of the village and out onto a different country lane – although I’m not certain that you would know the difference if you were new to the area – where I found, mid-way between here and there, a single brown boot.  Not a walking, nor a working boot, but a boot of the ‘Chelsea’ variety in, as far as I could see, excellent condition; not at all a ‘country hike’ kind of a boot.  My flip-flop anxieties were revisited and magnified: this was not the kind of footwear that could simply fall off, regardless of what you were doing.  This was footwear that had to be removed.  My mind was once again filled with hows and whys.  I cannot envisage a circumstance in which a vehicle could have stopped at this point without completely blocking the narrow lane.  It, therefore, occurred to me that the boot must have been removed from its foot and ejected from a moving vehicle.  How on earth had it offended its owner so profoundly?  Kidnap did cross my mind, but this is a village, I would have heard.  The possibility of it having been lost by a walker is even more remote.  Why would they have taken it off?  Why would they have considered it preferable to walk on without it – unless, of course, they had previously lost the other one elsewhere and wanted to persuade a suspicious partner that they had indeed left home without them?  That one of them, at least, was not tucked under a distant bed.

I prepared to dispatch it to my mental ‘imponderable’ file – things that I cannot understand, but I have to let go before they tip me over the edge – when, on the very next day, on my journey to work along the afore-mentioned scenic route, I saw another shoe in the side of the road.  Not, before you ask, a right-footed flip-flop, nor a dandy brown leather boot, but a black Nike trainer (lost by a runner who did not notice that he was suddenly and unaccountably limping perhaps?)  I could not, I felt, have been more bemused.

I was (as I am in most circumstances) wrong.  Yesterday we drove to the coast for a walk along the beach and, on the way, I spotted three single shoes, all different, in verge and in gutter along the route.  What is going on?  Do they constitute some kind of Hobo Code, like the strange runes that I once used to see chalked across paths and gate posts, informing those that might follow that a sucker lived here who was always good for a slice of cake, a cup of tea and a fiver to be on your way?  If that is the case, why are they all out in the open countryside and why are they always single?  Where is the other shoe and why has it not been considered as worthy as its twin of pointing the way to a free meal?  I must admit, if I ever come across a pair, I will have to consider alien abduction…

If you have any ideas at all, please let me know.  I need to put this mystery to bed before, God forbid, I start finding socks…

The previous instalment of the running diary ‘Man on the Run’ is here.
The next instalment of the running diary ‘The Running Man Plods On’ is here.
The whole sorry saga started here.

16 thoughts on “Foot, Where?

  1. This is just a theory… You know those display racks that they have outside of shoe shops where they arrange numerous selection of only right foot shoes or only left foot shoes… Well I think someone has nicked one and only realised what a faux pas they have made on the way to, through, and beyond your village. Just a thought!

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  2. I’m guessing a balloonist was flying over and a bee was found in the basket. Panic ensued. An older woman passenger, the kind who no longer cares how she looks and fears nothing, grabbed her flip-flop from her left foot and slapped the panicking teenager with it, bringing them back to reality. The bee thinking it was next flew off. The woman was having none of this and threw the footwear at the bee striking it and damaging both wings. Now harmless the teens collected the bee and sent her to a vet as soon as the balloon landed but sadly the blue almost shoe fell overboard.

    Just a thought

    Laugh lots

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      1. One might have to consider that its strange phenomena that has fallen from the sky…like those residents of a small outback Australian town that were left speechless after fish began falling from the sky.

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  3. Can I suggest you collect up all those solitary items of footwear, and those with laces you tie together and fling over a prominent telephone wire. This was be suitably apotropaic and warning to all one-handed shoe fetishists that you aren’t mucking about.

    Alternately find some dead cowboys, attach footwear to their extremities and bury them with their boots on.

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  4. I think the area is frequented by a monster that eats people whole, shoe and all, but had to spit out the shoe because of stink. Where is the other shoe? He is researching on how to remove stink from human shoes before he eats them, so that he doesn’t waste food.

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