Surely you must have noticed it? I don’t mean the Joan of Arc type – she would have been sectioned not burnt these days – and who’s to say that wouldn’t have been a worse fate. I’m not talking about those other women either – the ones who should be put out of their misery – or ours. The ones who whine on about having to fetch and carry for a child or partner or other and get to do nothing for themselves (ok I admit I’ve complained that way once or twice or thrice). Frankly I wonder if the relative or neighbour or child wouldn’t welcome some good natured neglect in place of the pursed lips and the dutiful attention. But no, I’m talking about the new martyrs, women and sometimes men who daily and uncomplainingly martyr themselves to a cause so all-pervading you may be shocked that it has gone relatively undocumented.
Travelling home last Saturday night I observed some shoe martyrs. They have always existed but their sheer numbers and uniformity must now constitute a phenomenon and they are just one element of a very broad church.
The shoes required for this ritual suffering are so aesthetically hideous I feel it would be worse than a misnomer to simply label these people fashion victims. Fashion victim suggests some visual gain for the distressed wearer. Stacked, clumped, blocks of wedged, solid, cartoon shoes with heels, make the feet appear like stilted hooves. Also, they cause the wearer to walk like a cross between a giraffe and an elephant on a rope bridge. The shoe martyrs clearly belong to some mysterious sect much weirder and wider than anything imagined by Scientology. This cult, through collective pain, podiatric ugliness, broken ankles, damaged hips and tilted wombs, will eventually decrease the overall suffering of mankind. The shoe martyrs act regardless of age, shape or size. Some, in their zeal, go out in the modern spiritual equivalent of a hair shirt – otherwise known as ‘almost naked’. Presumably so that when their shoes pitch them into the nearest gutter, legs akimbo, designer handbags somersaulting through the air, their humiliation will be complete and the fashion god of consumer mentalness will be sated for ever amen – or until the following night.
Sadly there are many who fail, they fall by the wayside (both metaphorically and in contradiction to what I’ve just said!) and let down their fellow martyrs. These can be seen creeping along the streets of towns and cities at about 9.30 p.m. HOLDING their shoes and walking in their BARE FEET. I’m too ashamed for them to go on.
But the shoe martyrs pale into insignificance against the fast food fundamentalists. These much quieter, less gregarious but even more dedicated characters are – in my view – more suited to martyrdom and the noble silence and sombreness with which we historically picture such individuals. They can be viewed any day of the week at any time through the windows of the burger/chicken/general-eyelid & offal-fried-in-fat outlets where the faithful worship. They subject themselves to the misery of eating shit so quietly, with such glum faces and slack-jawed, dull-eyed passivity, lack of conversation, animation or any other sign of enjoyment that they would make Joan of Arc blush.
Unbelievable as some readers may find it – and I forgive those who read my blog and conclude that I bear false witness – I have seen, double martyrdom. NO, you shriek in ecstatic horror. Could a mere mortal truly assume such a mantle even for the God of Consumerism. But I say unto you now, verily have I seen it with mine own eyes – a person both wearing the hoof shoe and eating salted, fat-saturated, compressed bio-waste in a bread bun.
Before you dismiss this claim, bear in mind that world economic growth is largely based on people buying crap they don’t need and didn’t want until the advertisers convinced them they’d be less than nobody if they didn’t’ have it. It is, I suppose, just possible that these are not martyrs but mass, brainwashed consumer fodder.
But no – that would be too ridiculous and nightmarish!
My One Night Stand with the Ghost of Bill Farrell.