Sunday, 23 April 2017

Red Letter Day For The Feet

19:24:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , , 1 comment
When you have a family as large, as close and as long lived as mine is you're bound to have a fair few Red Letter Days (RLDs) along the way.
One suffers, we all suffer, one celebrates, we all celebrate.  In style.  So far, touch wood, I've been incredibly lucky in my life, with far more happy, celebratory days than sad ones. 
There are the obvious celebrations - births of children and grandchildren, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, special birthdays, including one ninetieth - but I suppose if you have too many celebrations they stop being RLDs and start being a bit run of the mill.
Don't get me wrong, all those celebrations have been special in their own different ways, united by the common thread of family and friends, but the real RLDs are the ones that had been either long awaited, painfully achieved or unexpected.
When our daughter left school, declined university and insisted she wanted to work in Superdrug for the foreseeable future we reluctantly accepted her choice and never imagined we would be watching her throwing her brand new police hat in the air a few years later, alongside those of her newly qualified colleagues.  The pride we felt in her that day was matched only by the pride we felt in her two brothers a short while later. 
We had always said we were proud of our children whatever they chose to do, we just wanted them to be happy. This sounds like a cliche - and it probably is - but it doesn't make it any less true. Ask any parent, they want their children to be happy, above all.  It's just that sometimes the child doesn't really know what will make him or her happy. 
We were quite laid back parents in that we never really pushed our kids. We encouraged them (and I do remember a fair bit of shouting during the GCSE and A level years - it did little, if any, good) so when eldest son Joe got himself to uni, graduated and then drifted about before setting to work laying carpets we kept our mouths shut.  The day he passed out from RAF training, complete with low flying planes and dramatic music was on a par with Laurey's Police passing out. Both times I fought back tears and felt as though my heart would burst with pride.
Still to come was number three child's graduation - slightly less dramatic than the pomp and ceremony involved in RAF and police events but an equally proud day nonetheless.  To see Dan in his cap and gown, with a First in Sports Science under his belt was another tear jerking moment. 

Three children, three very different paths, three uniforms, three fantastic results, two happy and proud parents, definitely three RLDs.

I mentioned birthdays earlier, and although they are great things to celebrate, they're not really achievements, not until you reach about eighty, when everyone tells you what a great achievement it is - which I would imagine makes you feel very, very old, and as though you should somehow be grateful.  I would guess it also makes you feel a little insecure - as though you've peaked and you might never reach that next great milestone.

My dad's ninetieth birthday, which I mentioned in a previous blog, was a great celebration for lots of reasons, not just that he'd achieved those nine score years and was still here, relatively unscathed, confident and competent enough to make a brilliant speech, but also because he was here surrounded by wife, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, brother-in-law, nephew, great niece and all the other halves that came with the above.  Not only were we there, we wanted to be there, celebrating those ninety years.

Another RLD.  

As a family, we are all great celebrators. I could go on and on, listing all the occasions we have got together and celebrated some milestone in our lives. I won't, it would take far too long, but before I go I must mention a day that stuck in my mind as my own personal RLD and that's the day I went for reflexology on my feet. 

You need to understand that although many people dislike their feet, I had a real hatred of mine. I think it stemmed back to the days when my mum used to take me to the Clark's shoe shop as a child. What I really wanted was a pair of dainty little sandals that I could clean with the natty tube of white paste with a sponge at the end, that we used on our plimsolls.  What I got was clodhopping black lace ups or a thick soled loafer if I was lucky.

How I hated those visits to the shoe shop. I was sulky and miserable and my mum was equally cheerful and determined.  I'll never forget the occasion that I was forced to try on a particularly ugly pair of dark brown loafers. I winced as I squeezed my feet in and hobbled across the shop, moaning.  The elderly male assistant took one look at me and my feet then turned to my mum and said haughtily, 'perhaps, madam, they'd fit her better if she liked them.'  If looks could kill that man would have collapsed in a heap beside me.

Anyway, back to my feet. They were wide with fat big toes and ugly nails. My daughter called them trotters and she wasn't far off.  So it was with some trepidation that I approached the lady who was offering free reflexology at a conference I was attending.  Whipping off my shoes and socks and drawing breath to apologise for them, the reflexologist picked up my feet and ran her fingers around them.  'Lovely feet,' she said. I looked up, thinking I'd misheard. I frowned at her.  

'Lovely feet,' she repeated, continuing to massage them. 

'You're joking?' I laughed, 'they're horrendous!' 

'Ah, but they're not,' said the reflexologist, squeezing and prodding, 'these feet are good, solid, walking feet. No callouses, no bunions, a bit of dry skin but nothing we can't deal with.  These feet,' she continued, looking at them fondly, 'get you from A to B don't they?'  

I nodded, 'I love walking,' I offered, as she continued to pummel.

'Good,' she said, 'keep walking and you'll always have lovely feet.' 
Something happened to me that day.  My relationship with my feet changed. I started to love them. They might not look glamorous, with dainty pink, sparkly nails, they might not be happy squeezed into a four inch heel, but by golly, those feet got me places.  They took me up mountains and down into valleys, they marched me along the prom with my camera, they whizzed me round the weekly shop, they stepped purposefully up stairs instead of standing still in a lift, and they turned the pedals on my bike.
I'll never forget that day with the reflexologist.  That was the day my feet and I made friends. Now that was a RLD.
The Red Letter Day That My Feet And I Made Friends by Jill Reidy
We were enemies
My feet and I
They were fat, ugly
And out of shape
No sparkly pink nails
Skin rough, flakey
Little toe squashed
Fighting for attention
Open toed sandals
Four inch heels
I was ashamed 

Until I heard those words
'Lovely feet'
Shocked, is that what she said?
Looked at them again
'They get you from A to B'
She was right
These feet take me everywhere
Up hills, down dales
Into town, along the prom
They pedal my bike
Lead me tiptoeing upstairs
Past slumbering babies

I look at them again
It's a Red Letter Day
We're friends
My feet and I
Thanks for reading, Jill


Lady Curt said...

My son too made a complete botch of attending a sixth form college after being a very good achiever at a boy's school. So after another chance and he still didn't knuckle too I gave him no option but to get a job. He never faltered, at 19 he bought a small house ( he still has it aged 41) . He was always employed at something ( sometimes two jobs ) . He never asked for assistance, was never any trouble. Then finding himself redundant aged 32 he trained for the police and is a member of the Metropolitan police. I'm proud of him too...