arry Secombe, Spike Milligan, and Peter Sellers delighted a generation of British radio listeners with their anarchic comedy and theatrical mayhem in the 1950s BBC series, The Goon Show. The plots were nothing more than an excuse to display the range of eccentric characters Milligan and Sellers could conjure up. And their dizzying wordplay and flights of fancy left a mark on everyone from John Lennon to Monty Python's Flying Circus.
There's a scene in one particularly chaotic episode in which the childish Bluebottle (played in near falsetto by Mr. Sellers) discovers that his script has been tinkered with.
Bluebottle: Shut up! Shut up, will you? Now then... [clears throat] "The Village... Virage... Vimrage Blacksmith,' by William Wandsworth. "Boil, cauldron, boil. Thou art not unkind... Man's ingratitude to Gerald Hairs of 20 Quert Street Epington..." Eh, that's not right! That's not a blacksmith. Come on now, come on! Who's the boy who's been messing around with my parts? You rotten part messer, you! Come here, you!
SFX: [step,...step,...step,...Step,...Step,...Step,...STEP,...STEP,...STEP...(long, expectant pause)]
Eccles: I'm the anticlimax.
Such silliness was a regular feature of The Goon Show. And the ease with which this talented trio could conjure peals of laughter from the slimmest material is truly astounding. (Want to treat yourself to their particular form of staged insanity? You can get a taste with the sequence of segments from a televised episode posted on YouTube here, here, and here. The idiot, Eccles, appears around 7:07 in segment 1, but the ever childish Bluebottle doesn't show up until soon after 2:06 in segment 3.) The series was carried on public radio here in the U. S., and thought it was broadcat over here 20 years after its heyday in Britain, I found myself just as transfixed as those original listeners.
Which is why the scene I quoted above comes to mind as I prepare today's post. I mentioned a few days back that I had discovered a simple solution that seemed to ease crowded toes in too tight shoes and remove a good bit of the fatigue and pain of putting your feet in something that might actually been designed for someone a half size or so smaller. After my first mention of my discovery (step), I heard from reader (step) after reader (step) after reader (step) 'til I find myself in the position (step) of wondering if I made too much to do about it (step), and now I am fated (step) to be little more than...(long expectant pause)...
...well, let's just say this idea works quite well for me, and I hope you have success with it, too.
Let's do a little elementary geometry, shall we? Consider a typical foot. There are toes at one end and a heel at the other. In a sensible world where sensible people put sensible shoes (shudder) on their feet, the toes stop just before the front end of the footwear and the heel rest comfortably just short of the back end.
That optimum space that a foot occupies in a shoe is, of course, its length. It's the distance from A to B in the image below.
Let's say our typical foot is a size 6. Which would make it about 9" in length. As long as a shoe has just a smidge more than 9" available on the inside, that size 6 foot will rest comfortably within.
Interesting thing about that 9 inches between A and B. If we take that orange bar and tilt it slightly, it will no longer reach from A to B.
It falls short. And now there's a gap between where the bar ends and the full distance from A to B.
Which, in effect, means that anything 9" long can be tilted so that it takes up less horizontal distance.
You've seen this in your own closet. Your flats and sneakers are always longer than your high heels. So imagine how your foot would behave if there was some way to elevate the heel inside a shoe relative to the toe.
There is a way to do that!
2-Layer Air up Height Increase Elevator Shoes Insole Lift Kit (5 cm), available through Amazon.com
Nest Design Flannel Heel Gel Insoles (4.5 cm), available through Amazon.com
2 Inch Adjustable Gel Lifts, available through Amazon.com
They go by a variety of names: heel pads, lifts, elevator soles. I've been experimenting with a couple of different kinds over the past few weeks, and I have to say that although adding another inch in height only removes a small fraction in foot length, I've found in shoe after shoe, that small fraction has been enough to turn a troublesome style into a thing of wonder and beauty. It took me awhile to get over the idea of stuffing additional height into my footwear (about 15 seconds), but when I suddenly discovered I could start wearing shoes that have been sitting idle in my closet for months, years even, I realized I was onto something. Something I had to share.
I suppose at this point I could try to include some action shots of me putting on a shoe, grimacing, then stuffing a lift into a shoe and putting it back with a genuine smile broadening across my face. But I'll leave all that to your imagination.
A couple caveats. Obviously, when you raise the heel, you'll also raise the instep. Make sure the shoe you want to rescue is not so tight in the instep that you'll end up creating pain from a new direction.
Also, don't expect miracles. This technique will not make a size 7 glide effortlessly onto your size 8-1/2 foot. I sat down and worked out the math on how much heel height will provide how much reduction in length (it's my geek side coming through), and according to the Pythagorean theorem, you're really not effectively shortening the foot that much. But as you and I both know all too well, sometimes that little bit is all that you need.
One other thing: I know money's tight for most of us, but I'd recommend trying a couple different brands and heights. I've been very satisfied with the blue gel insert pictured above. It's made my size 11 Litas from Jeffrey Campbell something I want to wear again. And I've got them tucked into my size-too-small UGG boots right this minute. I actually experimented with lifts a year or so back, but the solid rubber wedges that I bought sometimes wandered around inside my boots, and I ended up finding them more trouble than they were worth. So explore a number of options until you find the best one that works for you. For what it's worth, I'm not the only one to have happened upon this solution. I just purchased another Lita in my size on eBay, and while getting information about the fit, I discovered that heel pads were the secret weapon that the seller had used to make them fit comfortably as well.
I hope you'll give this idea a try. And then I really hope you'll check back in and let me know whether you found it to be a success. I'd like to think I've done some good today by helping someone, somewhere enjoy a pair of shoes.
[On my feet as I blog: whew! Some actual clog content at last. I was starting to worry! Thank DOC for heel lifts. They make this tight pair of Rosabella clog boots from UGG Australia something I can treat myself to all day long.]