Big feet are a curse. My father will testify to this fact, because when I was a child we couldn't get shoes for me for love nor money. Aged 8, I remember being given permission to wear trainers by the school because I couldn't get shoes in my width. The British system of shoe width is based on letters. Most shoe shops when I was a child had a range from A to E, and there were my plates with a truly unshoeable I/J. We found a shop in West Norwood that did extra wide fittings, and at a reasonable price, but the styles were 'limited.' As I grew older, my feet seemed to slow down growing in the width stakes. Unfortunately the length decided to catch up, and I was now finding myself buying adult shoes (which really disgruntled my parents) that would only last 3 months at best. By the time I was starting secondary school I was already off the shoe scale at a size 12, finding shops that stocked shoes that size as opposed to what was required. Trainers became a fine art. Being a teenager in the 80s, your footwear said a lot about you. My friends had all the latest trend setting Puma, Nike or Reebok, whilst I had Hitec edge, the only white trainer that seemed to fit. Each and every pair of trainers would befall the same fate, a long split down the outside edge where the upper joined the sole. My feet, still incredibly wide, would literally burst sideways out the shoe. Meanwhile, smart shoes weren't so difficult. Extra wide fittings in size 12 would normally do, but my feet decided the one direction that hadn't been catered for would now come into play. The bridge of my feet now started to grow, and whereas the shoe was wide enough or long enough, it was no longer high enough. The only option was to get bigger shoes.
A friend in Southend was one of the tallest men in Britain. He had the same problem with shoe size, and pointed me to a shoe shop there that had exactly what I wanted. I got shoes from them twice, before they decided the boxes were too big to keep in the shop and stopped selling them. I then found that army surplus stores would keep desert boots etc in my size, and they were pretty indestructible. The problem was the army surplus shops shut down. I now just walk into a shop and ask what the largest shoe they have is. If it fits, I buy it.
People don't appreciate how much of a curse big feet can be. The light side means you have the perfect chat up line.
"You know what they say about men with big feet?" they discretely mention.
"Yes, big shoes," you reply.
You also are a lot more steady on your feet. 12 pints of the ol' wifebeater would normally have someone legless, but I find I still can walk. It's also useful in a fight because someone's best punch that would make the average man fall over has you steadied like a weeble.
The less then light side is some of the everyday tasks. Driving means either your sole is on the pedal, not your toe as it should be, or angled at 2 o'clock. You try holding your leg at that angle for 2 hours upwards and then see how much your knee hurts. Stairs, especially steep ones, become a real problem because you have to angle your feet along each step and walk sideways. Planes don't give enough room under their seats for my size 15s, and I might as well kick out the life jacket from under the seat in front before I get comfortable.
So, imagine, some 13 and a half years ago, at the birth of my son. The last thing you'd want to hear is...
"Oh my, hasn't he got big feet."
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