Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Talismans... talismen?

Red Shoes MK IV
I have, in the past few years, developed a  habit of wearing red shoes to important events and interviews.  It probably started when I wore red shoes to my PhD interview and was woken the next morning by my flatmate exclaiming that there was a professor on the phone - I had got the place.  I subsequently wore red shoes to hand in my Masters thesis, to my viva and to receive the results.

Then came the Magical Shoes of Wonder.  One Christmas a group of my friends and siblings all got together and bought me a beautiful pair of red shoes, with heels and bows.  I was totally surprised.  I have never found it particularly easy to find shoes that fit (I'm right at the top of most manufacturers' size ranges and have wide feet to boot) but that pair fitted like a dream from day one.  They later told me that the friend with feet the closest in size to me had been sent into the shop to try on these shiny heels in her hiking socks!  The Magical Shoes of Wonder saw me through numerous presentations, my PhD Viva and graduation (I know the dress code is black and white, but they go with a red gown, it simply had to be done) and are still my most prized footwear.

These days, though, the red shoes above suffice for all but the most high-level requirements.  They also come out on a day-to-day basis.  I can stand all day in the Magical Shoes of Wonder but don't ask me to walk too far!

Now, I'm not a superstitious person.  I don't in any way believe that red shoes will change the outcome of any event I wear them to.  I think I wear them as a touchstone.  A reminder that, at the end of the day I am not the result of this interview or the reception this presentation gets.  At the end of the day I am the sort of person who wears red shoes.  The sort of person who can pull that off.  If I'm not the person for your job or you don't like my work, that's OK.  I have not misrepesented myself and all is well.

My shoes aren't my only talisman.  Others more specifically connect me to my family - the celtic cross necklance that my paternal grandparents gave me on my baptism, the ring that belonged to my great aunt, the perfume from my maternal grandparents.  That's important when you live five hundred miles away from your immediate family, half a world away from another branch of the family and have been separated by death from others.