Spike after tapered spike tapping decisively down the walkway. Each unhesitating, pointed vertical topped with a deceptively graceful arch and the swan-like curves of a slim, elegant leg.
Entranced, I would sit in front of our black and white television watching the would-be beauty queens strut their stuff; dominant yet subservient and, of course, stunningly beautiful. Aged nine, I wanted that same beauty and attention and, as importantly, a pair of those shard-tipped shoes. You couldn’t tell from the TV, but in my mind they were primary coloured: blue, yellow and especially red – loud, proud, scarlet.
A strict homework regime was imposed by my parents way before I’d progressed from primary to secondary school, but, tasks done, family TV was permitted.
One evening, as another televised pretty-parade sashayed across the screen, I lost myself to the excitement of the moment and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I could do that when I grow up.”
My father, normally an equitable man, immediately snapped back, “No. You could not”, in tones that said, equally forthrightly, “We will have no further discussion on the matter, young lady.”
With hindsight, he was seeing the chauvinistic, misogynistic flesh-market that lurked beneath the competition’s glittering façade – wanting none of it for his cherished daughter. All I saw was the beauty, the glamour and those shoes. What I heard was, “an ugly, ungainly goose-lump like you will never, ever aspire to beauty.”
I retreated into my books and the accumulating insecurities of adolescence and academia, giving up my innocent daydreams of grace and glamour.
Years of hard work and study later, I now parade my talent as a sought-after tax lawyer, wanted for my knowledge and expertise, but ultimately anonymous in my expensive, but otherwise unexceptional, grey suit. In the dark of my slim wardrobe I keep a pair of scarlet, patent leather, high-heeled Jimmy Choos, scented with promise but never worn.