Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Did you know the ring finger or soul finger could tell a lot about you?

According to experts each of our four fingers represents a different aspect of our personality. The ring finger or soul finger, some believe is where the soul leaves the body, after death. But in life, it provides clues about our creativity and sense of well being. Well it would do being the soul finger. Apparently all is revealed when the length of fingers are compared. Scientists have become very interested of late in what determines the length of fingers and have come up with a fascinating explanation. In males the length of fingers is determined by the levels of androgens (that’s male sex hormones) contained within the embryonic fluid, during early pregnancy. When the ring finger is longer than the index finger then, according to scientists, men have high levels of testosterone and prone to male-pattern baldness, among other things. When the ring finger is the same length as the index finger, this indicates normal levels of testosterone. This is usually opposite in women. Tesearchers believe men with longer ring fingers for their height are prone to suffer depression and if that was not bad enough others have found the ratio between the fingers on the right hand may be an indication of a person's sexual orientation. Here was me thinking it was just only two fingers but before you pull out the ruler or size up your hands the differences in finger length are just fractions of an inch. In addition, the findings are merely a statistical relationship, meaning that there are likely to be many men and women who do not fit the pattern.

The index, or first, finger tells a lot about your leadership abilities, ambition, and self-esteem. Your middle finger shows how responsible you are and whether your attitude toward life is serious or carefree. People with average length index fingers are not especially dominating but neither are they easily led either. A long index finger indicates assertiveness and driving ambition are accompanied with self-confidence. A very long index finger is found in bossy people always pointing the finger. Natural leaders and athletes have long index fingers as a rule. People with shorter than average index fingers are somewhat timid. In the average hand, the index and ring fingers are about the same length but a noticeably shorter index finger may belong to a cold individual who probably dislikes having restrictions placed upon them. These people dislike criticism but are happy to give it out. Scientists have associated the size of the index finger to the levels of estrogens bathing the foetus.

A study published by the British Journal of Cardiology, implies a correlation between the ring and index fingers which indicated heart conditions a ring finger equal to or shorter than the index finger in males make them more prone to heart attacks in later life. This association is well founded since level of male sex hormones has been connected with cardiac behaviour. Long ring finger youths excel at sport, although they might struggle to communicate. Men whose ring finger is roughly the same length as their index finger tend to be poor at sport but are better able to express themselves. Among women, risk-taking and assertiveness are linked to a relatively long ring finger. A tendency to throw caution to the wind, coupled with relatively poor communication skills, may also be found among women with this shape hand. Women with roughly equal ring and index fingers can tend towards being neurotic with an aversion to risk and low assertiveness, but are linked to good communication skills. Links between finger length and breast cancer, autism, dyslexia and fertility have also been found.

The middle finger is used to judge others and difficult to determine whether it's long, short, or average in length by itself. The middle finger is associated with responsibility. A long middle finger indicates a very responsible person and sometimes a lonely individual. More relaxed people have short middle fingers and share a fun-loving approach to life. Medium-length middle fingers are seen in the well balanced.

How Dominic Chambrone Became The Shoe Surgeon

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Socks 'n' Sandals : Who's bad ?

Revelations: When Michael Jackson was photographed wearing white socks with his sandals and it caused a real buzz with the paparazzi. Fashionista went ballistic over the advisability or otherwise of wearing socks with sandals.

Long considered a fashion faux pas, maybe fashion divas have overlooked the Roman Invasion.

Excavations of a Romano-Celtic temple complex at Tabard Square in Southwark, London unearthed a bronzed foot, which is by itself a rare find. However worse to come and the pedal extremity had the fashion audacity of wearing socks and sandals. How uncouth.

It has long been thought the humble sock was around 2000 years ago and no reason why it would not be worn but this is the first actual physical evidence to confirm it. The weather in Britain at that time was terrible. (What’s changed?) and Tacitus recorded this at the time.

Archeologists are still undecided but believe the foot may have belonged to a statue of the god, Camulos (Mars) who was worshipped in northern France and Britain. Inscriptions of the god's name have been found elsewhere on the temple site. Alternatively, the foot may be from a statue of an emperor. Since statues were never made of the plebs it may just have been an isolated case of bad taste.

Leg coverings have been discovered in bog bodies and bodies trapped in glaciers, which predate the current, find. So people in colder climates would most certainly cover their feet for protection. It would take until knitting was discovered before actual socks, as we would understand them, to appear as common costume accessories.

Another discovery in Somerset set the archeological world on its feet because the Iron Age shoe is thought to predate previous finds of Roman sandals. The shoe is a rectangular bag of leather but has vertical stitching at the heel and six pairs of lace holes in the vamp so it is definitely a shoe. The shoe was found at Whitehall Quarry, near Wellington, was the equivalent to a modern size 9 or 10, and was so well preserved that the stitching and lace holes were visible in the leather. Usually animal and vegetable materials perish in the ground but due to unusual conditions the artifact was preserved in pristine condition thanks to the clay which surrounded it. The shoe has been dated to between 2000 and 2500 years old. The first Roman Invasion of Britain was in 55 BC. Footwear from this period is extremely rare although a handful of relics have been found in other European countries. The shoe had no partner and experts believe it may have been left as a lucky charm, a common practice in the middle ages.


When a cache of Roman Sandals was found in York, England, many had been worn. Surprisingly from scientific analysis of the examples, which spanned children to adult sizes, experts found the same wear marks as would be seen on modern shoes. It appears in two millennia, the anatomy of human feet has not changed despite the influence of footwear.

Socks and sandals – Who’s Bad?

Reviewed 30/01/2016

Cobbler, Cobbler by Hayley Mills

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rock stars and their shoes

The term fetish is too easily misused today, and is frequently associated with celebrities who collect lots of shoes, and there are a few of them. One of the trappings of affluence is accumulation of material items which becomes meaningless. Just ask Elton John or Oprey Winfrey, both have auctioned off their old gear, including hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Restifism (shoe fetish) means you would need to have sex with the shoe and there are not too many musicians willing to admit to that. Like all performers, musicians are a superstitious bunch and have favorite shoes they wear for special occasions like at recording studios or live performances.

Brain May of Queen, for instance always wears clogs on stage. Many musos put their right shoe on first for good luck. Just in the same way we all have a right and wrong side of the bed. This relates to human beings trying to control the fortunes of destiny. Shoes are a special type of costume which is often chosen to complete an outfit. That means there is a lot more conscious effort goes into what kind of shoes we wear. Men dress to comply with an image whereas women dress to complement their personality. Rock stars are no different.

If there was ever an item of clothing which epitomized the style and fashion of an era it would have to be shoes (or their absence). Take yourself into any cd/record store and you can pick up a dozen covers of compilation hits and three quarters of them will depict fashionable shoes of the time.

What is more these are instantly recognizable and to all generations.

Billy Joel captures this sentiment in the lyrics of his pop song, "It's still rock and roll to me."

“How about a pair of pink sidewinders (sandals)
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers."
Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me.

It's still rock and roll to me
Billy Joel

Musos can get typecast with a particular shoe style, so EmInem would look a lot less cool to his crew, dressed in disco platforms, and the thought of Cliff Richard on stage wearing thrasher Vans, is almost unthinkable. Many pop stars have personalized their shoes.

The Bay City Rollers for example had their initials on their boots for all to see. The UK duo Bros, in the eighties, wore beer bottle tops on their trainers.

Chubby Checker wore basket weave shoes and Joe Cocker sported a cracking pair of cowboy boots with stars, on stage, at Woodstock.

Shoe designers and rock costumiers love ambiguity, something shared with musical performers like David Bowie.

In the 70s androgenous rock, Bowie (aka Ziggy Stardust) wore platform boots to heighten the small performer on stage, the elfin, Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan meantime sported heelless pumps.

Height challenged Elton John found the fashionable platforms useful to extend his reach over the piano. Front men and solo performers tend to be better dressed with drummers (precisionists) scruffier than most. Lead guitarists are creative and in touch with their female side so veered towards stylish sneakers or casual fashion. Bass men, are pretty conservative and preferred better quality shoes.

Rappers wear designer trainers; new era grunge prefer thrasher (Sk8er) shoes; and Neo-punk go solid for the old Doc Martens.

West Coast music outfits into niche Country and Western rock wear boots in keeping with their cowboy machismo.

Reviewed 29/01/2016

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Devil’s Footprints

The English winter of 1854-55 was severe and one of the coldest in living memory. The county of Devon was under 5cm of snow, which fell overnight on 9th February 1855. The River Exe froze over trapping birds where they stood on the ice. As the dawn came, the countryside was carpeted in thick snow interrupted only by a trail of mysterious footprints, which ran for 150 km. They appeared as donkey hooves which zigzagged through five parishes across gardens, over rooftops, haystacks, walls and in and out of barns. Someone or something, walking upright on two legs made the hoof prints. Reports of the unusual event brought many theories but the most prevailing was these were the footprints of the devil. When dogs were brought in to follow the prints they were reported to have retreated howling dismally. Many theories were put forward to explain the prints including an escaped kangaroo. One of the more plausible explanations was `the prints belonged to a badger. Badgers place their hind feet into the marks made by their forefeet. Although the species hibernate, sometimes they come out in midwinter in search of food. Closer examination revealed the prints had not all been made overnight and there was evidence practical jokers may have been responsible for some. Despite the plausible explanations however many local people held the belief the Devil walked that night and take care to this day to avoid going out at night after sunset.

There is an old legend about Cley Hill, Warminster in Wiltshire, England. Displeased with the people of Devizes the Devil was making his way to Somerset carrying a huge bag of earth on his back. His intention was to cover the town with mud. He met a fellow traveler on the road and asked him how far it was to Devices. A cobbler to trade the man recognized the devil and to confuse him, said ,
"that's just what I want to know myself . I started for Devizes when my beard was black and now it is grey and I haven't got there yet".

The devil replied. "If that is how it is, I won't carry this thing no further, so here goes," and throw the earth away forming the hill now known as Cley Hill.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick of Ireland was born circa 385 AD, at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland. The parents of Maewyn Succat (or Patricius) were wealthy Romans living in Britain. His father was a deacon. When Patricius was fourteen, he was captured during a raiding party by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland as a slave. He was sold as a slave to a Michu, an Irish chieftain and remained there for six years and became a shepherd. Patrick sought solace in his predicament and prayed while he looked after the sheep. His spirituality brought the boy strength even although his captor was cruel and demanding. Patrick was clever and taught himself the Gaelic as well as studied druidism, the predominant religion in Ireland at that time. He escaped slavery when aged twenty, and returned to Scotland to reunite with his family.

He studied to be a priest and was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre before being sent by Pope Celestine as a bishop to take the Gospel to Ireland. The young man’s heart was still in Ireland and eventually when Pope St Celestine decided to make Ireland a Christian country St. Patrick was given the mission of evangelizing the Irish. Patrick became the special Apostle of the Irish nation.

He arrived in Ireland in 433 AD and from the onset met with hostility from the Druids. Overcoming hostilities, he converted the chieftain Dichu and began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland. He was a humble and brave priest who wore rough clothing and slept on hard rock bed. Patrick went from region to region winning respect and eventually the faith of the populous. As evidence of his presence Patrick is thought to have left his foot print on one of shore rocks just at the entrance to Skerries harbor.

Wherever he went on the Emerald Isle the fame of his miracles and sanctity went before him. After 40 years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering Patrick worked many miracles and established Ireland as Christian country. He retired to County Down and died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. There are many legends surrounding St Patrick most of which cannot be verified. Some of the more common were:

Patrick used the shamrock (a three leaf clover) to explain the Trinity and this icon became associated with the Irish ever since.

Another legend was Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland; snakes were a popular symbol among the Irish pagans.

He used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross. The sun was a common symbol in Irish paganism and veneration of the symbol appealed to the Irish converts. By the seventh century, St Patrick was revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Leprechauns: Little People and the Little Shoe Makers

Traditionally shoe makers worked alone. Prior to the development of the turnshoe technique, where the sole and upper were stitched together before being turned inside out, shoesmakers used large headed nails (hobnails) to attach the sole to the upper.

Changes in shoe construction at the end of the middle ages rendered using tacks an old technique, more befitting a craftsman steeped in the olden ways of the gentle craft. Shoes were however, made individually and took a craftsman to match left and right heels.

In Ancient Rome, many early converts to Christianity were from affluent families that had disinherited them because of their beliefs. Many found work as sandal makers. Often shoes were made at night and whilst appearing to sell their shoes during the day, they were also spreading the gospel.

Romans enjoyed wearing decorate sandals, sometimes with precious metal tacks but in times of austerity, sumptuous clothing and footwear were outlawed. Hence, most sandal makers worked clandestinely at night.

By the 12th Century shoemakers had formed guilds and many artisans were perceived as politically active and certainly viewed with suspicion as agitators.

In 17th century etchings, shoe makers were frequently depicted working solo and in poor conditions. Many were bespecktacled and usually smoking clay pipes. The craftsman’s need for full concentration on the task was paramount and many were depicted working on a lady’s shoe. A good shoe maker was highly prized and a well-crafted shoe worth its own weight in gold.

Shoemakers took on a personna in popular mythical culture as a magical fellows whose shoes or boots played a vital role in life. It is not real surprise to find supernatural little people, like Leprechauns (Neda-Ard, or plural, Neda-Ardi or Drun-ky) or elves, as shoemakers. Their profile matched reality of a solitary worker, dressed in work clothes, bespeckled, and enjoying a pipe as they tapped away on a ladies’ shoes.

Leprechauns or the Little People present as old men no taller than three feet. Many wore wore a cocked hat, red coat (not green), a leather (work) apron, woollen vest, knee breeches, long stockings and silver-buckled brogues. The fashion was reminiscent of 17th century Dandy and although Leprechauns were spoken off long before this the popular image of the Leprechaun may have come from the anti- Irish, English and American political cartoonists of the time.

It was widely thought Leprechauns held the secret to the location of buried treasure (a crock of gold). Whilst they may be coerced into telling you where the gold was buried by their nature they were mischievous and dreadful practical jokers, and almost certainly untrustworthy when dealing with humans. This could easily be taken as a metaphor for a shoemaker who has the capability to make you walk on air but unless a close scrutiny is maintained may supply you with some dud shoes. No surprise to discover it is important for the human to keep a fixed eye on the leprechaun at all times otherwise he will vanish. Leprechauns were said to serve as defenders of the faerie communities which again may be seen as a metaphor for protecting shoemaking communities. They also made brogues, the patterns of which contained ancient emblems most of which were to protect the wearer from evil.

Sexy Milestones

Until modern times the roads in Japan were little more than footpaths. Travellers were in fear of what might befall them and from the 10th century lucky talisman were used as milestones. They came in all sorts, mostly god like figures but by far the most popular were the phallic shaped milestones. The power of the stone was to remind the fearful traveler of the pleasures behind or ahead. Proper behaviour was required in the presence of deities, of course, but the jolly wanderer was left to take consolation and peace, leaving them less exposed to the dangers of the road. The earliest stone milestones were of an erect penis but these were later replacing with copulating couples. These images provoked the powerful complementary forces of yin and yang. The milestones through the ages took on powerful properties among the peasant folks and were soon afforded magical status with powers to make baron women fertile. In gratitude, grateful families left offerings of an appropriate shape. Oddly shaped carrots and mountain potatoes were especially popular. When Buddhism arrived there was a concerted effort to tidy up the countryside and so sadly few phallic milestones remain. The Japanese did keep the images but these were transferred into bald headed statues.

Jizō was the most common. The remaining examples of the stones were removed by the 19th century Victorians concerned at the apparent affront, never realising Jizō was the god of lost children’s souls.

Bishop C & Osthelder X 2001 Sexualia: From prehistoric to cyberspace Cologne: Könemann

Ballet : Charles Didelot and pointe shoes

By the time of the French Revolution (1789-1799) ballet dancers exchanged heeled shoes and heavy costumes for lighter, flat-soled slippers, pointe shoes, and flesh-colored tights. This allowed performers freedom to move and achieve greater grace. The move to en point is thought to have been the brainchild of a Swedis dancer called, Charles Didelot who had studied dance and performed in France and Russia around 1800.

Didelot is credited with advancing the art form with innovations and developments in style and costume. Among other things he created a “flying machine” of rigged wires that carried dancers into the air. This made them appear weightless which delighted audiences who came to expect more challenging movements in dance.

Pointe shoes evolved with a flat toe box as a platform. This base helped develop calf and leg muscles during strenuous routines and allowed the entire weight of the body to be precariously balanced on the rigid points of one or both feet. The new footwear enabled maneuvers like pirouettes, arabesques and the dancers required to develop skill, strength, agility, and grace.

Pointe shoes may appear pretty but looks are deceiving. Ballerinas tend to stay with the same shoemaker from their student days and the better quality shoes are hand lasted. It takes two and a half years to learn how to make ballet slippers and a lifetime to perfect them. Many are true works of art and craftsman shoe makers sign their slippers with their insignia on the sole. Ballet slippers are papier-mâché pumps made of satin, calico, card, Hessian and thick glue. The soles are made from cardboard. Many are hand lasted and made inside out. There is no right and left slipper and the ballet dancer customizes their shoes with use. The tips and sides of traditional pointe shoes are hard with the former made from layers of canvas, burlap and glue. The block is built up by layering Hessian with a form of wet tissue paper and fine card, and each layer is spread with a sticky glue like paste made form flour and dextrene. The shoes are baked for ten hours before the seamstresses and cutters trim the satin and sew in the drawstrings. Fitting shoes is considered important by experts and good fitting shoes can keep foot damage to a minimum. Tradition determines pointe shoes are supplied without ribbons and the ballerina will sew these on themselves. Professional ballerinas can wear through three pairs of ballet slippers per performance.

Some ballerinas spend hours customizing their pointe shoes. Done as a labour of love they may squash them a door frame, or scape them with a Stanley knife or cheese grater. A common superstition is if the ballerina cuts herself when sewing her ribbons she must smear the blood on the back of the shoe for good luck. Finally the shoes are coated inside with shellac, a sticky solution that seals the inside. Otherwise the heat of the dancer’s foot breaks down the papier-mâché block. Many put nail varnish around the edges to stop them fraying and stitch a seam in the she to accommodate bunions. Some will reinforce the block by darning the edge of the shoe. Most girls reuse the ribbons form discarded shoes. Unseen at the side of the stage are trays of powdered rosin. The ballerinas spray their legs and feet with water before scratch like chickens in the rosin tray to coat their feet and soles with the sticky amber residue, this stops them from slipping. Dame Margot Fonteyn’s pointe shoes sold in auction for more than $5000 a pair. When Swiss Italian Marie Taglioni gave her final performance in 1842, her fans clubbed together and paid 200 rubles for her shoes. They then boiled them and ate them.

Going on pointe for young girls (aged 11) is considered an achievable dream and rite of passage. But to the dedicated ballet devotee it takes a lot of hard work, pain and determination to achieve the epitome of dance.

Ballet dancers do suffer many foot ailments as they develop the en pointe technique. Injuries are a regular part of a dancer’s life who cope with many stress fractures and bouts of tendonitis throughout their career. A complication for many dancers is they become so used to foot discomfort they are unable to discriminate between chronic suffering and acute damage. Chronic pain in couch potatoes would prevent them from exercise.

Reviewed 25/01/2016