22 January 2014

Why I (Sometimes) Wear High Heels

Shoes from Yo Amo Los Zapatos

Things are sodden here in the south of England after the rain we've been experiencing.   Someone in the sky keeps turning on the tap.  The full regalia of wellingtons, galoshes or indeed fisherman's wading boots would have been preferable at the weekend when I went squelching through mud that oozed over the top of my normally serviceable walking boots.

Indeed, the wearing of anything as ridiculous as heels was furthermost from my mind - until I  got back home, washed out mud-dribbled socks, then looked at some of the Facebook photos of a couple of new South American friends to the A Woman in Goggles band page.   Clearly, they were shoe crazy, having posted nothing but pictures of exotic footwear from Yo Amo Los Zapatos - the Spanish language version of the Shoelovers website.  Curiosity won out and I clicked on the mouse to see what all the fuss was about.  And there in its splendour was all manner of vertiginous walking gear - beribboned, bestrapped, bebuckled, and impressively beheeled.   

Somehow, I've never completely subscribed to this Woman-as-Shoe thing, witness the sorry contents of the wardrobe.  Let's see, I must possess something approaching close to (ballpark figure) three pairs of high-heeled shoes.

But.  However.  Still...

Why I Wear High Heels
To look taller, of course:
create plinths for my legs
so they can masquerade
as objets fashioned by Bernini;

to shock complacent feet
out of jam-like spread,
streamline them
and keep them on their toes;

to seduce my gait
away from its forward intent,
teach it to rock to the lateral
in a slow pendulum sway;

to click in a tight secretary skirt
down the waxed corridors
of the Johnson Building,
Racine, Wisconsin, circa 1950;

to liberate the calligraphy
trapped in stilettos,
inking circles and swirls
on wood as I dance;

to gain vantage over hedges,
whose shadows hide
the ploughings left
by serfs in their fiefs;

to lift into the burl
of the west wind,
bump the top of my head
on the underside of wings;

and every night,
removing high heels,
to stand down,
find the earth once more.

© Katie Griffiths

2 January 2014

A Coat, a Wig and a Roving Star

Having being born the day before the traditional Epiphany, squeaking in just before the Twelve Days of Christmas are officially over, I’ve grown up being aware of stars and wise men out wandering.

And while I can imagine The Magi at this time of year on their singular journey, busy looking towards the heavens, my own eyes seem to be more firmly on the ground tracking wise men.  Any wise man or woman.  The kind of person on whose door you can rap, who will invite you in, speak in riddles you must untangle, ladle out warming broth, sit and listen to your woes, dust you down, then set you back on course, clearer and more focused.  

I realise that wise people rarely heave into view looking like Gandalf and more often come across your path heavily disguised – often in the garb of a person you’re too instantly prepared to dismiss.  I thought of one yesterday as I was cleaning the bathroom for visitors.  In fact, I think of him every single time I wipe down a basin, and hear his voice saying: immer fliessend, Katie, immer fliessend.  He was a barrel-bellied Croatian gastarbeiter in the Hansa Hotel in Wiesbaden, where I was a chambermaid for the summer I was nineteen, and he taught me everything I now know about turning round a bathroom in minutes – especially, although not necessarily economically, by keeping the water continually running while swooshing around the taps with a cloth.  His words, which were originally meant simply to communicate a knack, have transformed over time into a nugget of wisdom,  and the instructions immer fliessend, meaning always flowing, have become a mantra in my head, not just about water in a basin, but about a way of living that aspires to be easy and fluid rather than rigid and stuck.  

Yet I am still drawn to the notion of a wise and wondrous magical character, stepping out of the gloom attired in home-spun but mystic raiments.  As you can see in the photo above, I’ve laid out his/her coat in readiness (a Kashmiri embroidered dressing gown that my mother brought back from India when she was twenty-seven) and I've provided a flowing mane of hair and a hat graced with the proverbial star.  We used these props in a recent You Tube release of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star reworked by the A Woman in Goggles band.

For this traditional song of looking, wondering and seeking is nothing if not a song for Epiphany.  

And the pictured clothes are waiting to be inhabited and spring to life.