An anthropology of the shoeless

Well the ski season is over and time to hit the streets and parks once more in those little pink tootsies. I tried a bit of barefoot up in the Alps this year but weather and time was limiting. Not sure that the locals have the slightest idea how to take it.

I don’t think I am an exhibitionist but I do find the attention you receive when you get your feet out most amusing and I just wonder what it says about us all.

In France the comments to date have been ‘Pieds nu!!’ and a guy from the ski hire shop stopping his van to ask if I needed help. I tried to explain but he remained complete nonplussed in a very French way.

Comments on the way round London:

13/4/15 Run – 5 miles Pimlico . Hyde Park / Pimlico – Just the one comment today. Rounding the homeward corner a tall slightly ragged lady who looked like she had done some living (and was well immersed in doing some more) : ‘mind you don’t get committed doing that’ – perhaps speaking from experience?? It reminded me of other brethren of the bottle who have commented on my quick trips to the car in my socks. It is interesting that they are very keen to warn against it.

19/4/15 Pimlico/Hyde Park /Pimlico. This was a day of expletives. It began with three young lads in the Park ‘F*****g hard core mate’. Then a charity runner or two I passed that  said simply ‘F***’. And then, again when pretty much rounding the homestraight, this very dudey goth lad passed by with no sign of any recognition but as we were shoulder to shoulder I heard a calm and direct ‘SOUND!’

26/4/15 Pimlico /Hyde Park / Pimlico. A very calm run today. Glad it did not rain – always very tough on the feet. Just the one comment: ‘Well done mate!’ . Not sure I deserved this on Marathon day but there you go.

So far it seems that being barefoot appeals to the counterculture and stands as  a bit of a ticket in. What is also apparent is the overwhelming support that seems to accompany people’s observations.

We shall see…




About Chris

Chris Low is a London based academic, increasingly southern African charity worker, and a person who like to feel alive by playing music, telemark skiing and, as of recently, running barefoot

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