Worn out of wearing in: The shoe-blues

Girls, you know the feeling.

You see them in the shop, shiny, perfect, and inviting. The palette of your dreams, the ideal height, the exact curvature you’re after.

 So you hand over your money, the thrill and anticipation making the exchange of cash that bit easier. You get home, match them to that dress that needed something to jazz it up. Presto, you’re good to go.

Then you take a step, maybe a few. Perhaps you even walk for five minutes. And then…ouch.

It’s the curse of new shoes.

Because too massively blaspheme Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a fashion-conscious woman in possession of a new pair of pumps must be in want of a plaster. Discussions with friends reveal that no new sandals leave a foot unblistered, while the first outing in a just-bought pair of heels is always liable to leave feet angry and red.

A lovely pair of white heels, comfortable as anything in store, purchased to match a new summer skirt, left me hobbling in central London last week. Sure, the shoes were on sale (from New Look), but it still had me raging. Especially because this always happens, and I never learn.

And it’s not that the shoes don’t fit. Obviously, sometimes they don’t; we’ve all been guilty of the denial of “I can squeeze into the pair a half-size too small”. But even when they seem glove-perfect in the shop, the moment you leave agony invariably ensues. Because shoes need wearing in. Wearing in? 

As a concept, this leaves something to be desired.

We don’t buy a dress with the intention of parading around in it a few times to make it fall that bit better, nor do we pick up a book and carry it in our bag to soften it up for when we feel like a good read. When was the last time you left a new lipstick to acclimatise to your ownership?

But shoes, like good wine, seemingly have to mature.

Which is all well and good for alcohol (never really goes out of style, any pain caused won’t be remembered the next day) but works less effectively given the speed of the fashion rollercoaster.

So here’s a plea to the shoe designers of the world. How about a pair that fit when you put them on, not three weeks later?

Given that your gifts to humanity have so far included gladiator sandals, Buffalo trainers and ugg boots, it’s the least you can do.

Aaron Sorkin goes back to the White House

West Wing fans, our prayers have been answered. Sort of.

OK so Josiah Bartlet isn’t going to get a third term, nor are we going to get a more detailed glimpse into the Santos administration.

But WW writer Aaron Sorkin has apparently agreed to work on a film about the rise and fall of John Edwards. Edward, you’ll remember, ran for president then suffered a spectacular fall from grace when the National Inquirer revealed the juicy details of his affair (and child) with an aide.

Keen WW lovers will recall of course that political scandal is no new subject for Aaron Sorkin. The dramatic demise of John Hoynes for a similarly stupid misdemeanour made for a nail-biting season four finale.

Of course, Hoynes was fictional… real politicians would never be so stupid. You’d think.

The Edwards tale is great Sorkin fodder, and I can’t wait for the film, which follows his political biopic Charlie Wilson’s War and the forthcoming Facebook flick The Social Network.

But as enthusiastic as I am about the project, there’s another caught-with-his-pants-down political affair I’d rather see the writer turn his attention to.

Bring on “Sorkin does the Bill Clinton life story”.

Read my feature on Aaron Sorkin here.

Freedom of Eat? Calorie counts come to Britain

News comes that restaurant chain The Real Greek will be the first in the UK to carry extensive calorie labelling on their menu.

As the Indy reports: “The Real Greek chain said it was confident putting calorific values on its menu alongside starters, mains, desserts, wine, beer and juices would be popular with diners wishing to monitor their energy intake.”

About time, I say. Freedom of eat only goes so far.

In an ideal society, adults wouldn’t need to be babysat into making sensible choices about what they consume. But equally, in an ideal society obesity wouldn’t be sky high and parents wouldn’t take children to McDonalds as a “treat”.

And I wouldn’t have had the uncomfortable experience of sharing my seat on an underground train yesterday with a man who should really have booked for two.

And of course calories aren’t a foolproof guide to healthy eating. There’s far more than a number to consider – saturated and hydrogenated fats, hidden sugars and salts, and all sorts of other nutritional concerns.

But generally, if the number of calories in something is high, it’s a pretty good indication that it won’t do your heart or your waistline any favours.

Consider this: “a Greek salad weighs in at 676, probably on account of its feta cheese.”

Or this: “A couple drinking a bottle of a dry red Cretan wine, Ymnos, would clock up 669 calories”.

Wouldn’t you want to know that? I would, just like I’d like Starbucks to put helpful numerical notifications next to its drinks, or Pret to offer a by-numbers guide to which sandwich I really shouldn’t be eating for lunch.

Having travelled to Washington DC and New York in the last few years, two cities where calorie counts are prominently displayed next to every food choice, I hasten to add that just because you know it’s bad, doesn’t mean you don’t eat it.

Acting in a way that is bad for your welfare is just human nature – while I know that tub of Ha’agen Daas chocolate ice cream isn’t going to give me a get-out-of-gym free clause, I still dig into it on a pretty regular basis. Likewise, plenty of people see the numbers, ignore them and still supersize their portions.

So obviously, this is not a one-stop way to kill off overeating. But it’s a start.

For every person who sees a number and thinks, “oh, well”, another will say: “500 calories. For a salad. Crap, I’ll have the soup.”

Because let’s face it. Without sounding fattist, obesity is a problem in Britain – you only have to look around the high street to see that – and putting nutritional information on the menu is one way to target it.

Joined up with better health education, cheaper vegetable prices and a hike in the cost of doughnuts, we might have a way to stop Britain bulging at the seams.