This weekend I had the good fortune to attend a lovely wedding in London. It was the wedding of the first work experience student who sat with me > 10 years ago. Now qualified and making excellent progress in the medical profession she was marrying another doctor in The Temple Church and this was followed by a river trip to the location of the reception.
A very special occasion and as the only guests that I knew were more than half my age (friends of my daughter) one of those wedding suits and hat for a senior guest would seem inappropriate, so aided by some eager, enthusiastic, young shop assistants I finally found a dress that they all thought suited me ( not necessarily what I would chosen but then clothes shopping is not my favourite occupation!).
Then the assistant appeared with shoes with ‘Kitty heels’ and suggested that if I was going to a wedding that heels were a must. As I put them on they surprisingly fitted but I have to say I did feel anxious being that much off the ground! I strutted nervously and unsteadily a few steps across the shop and decided I must conquer this and after all I did have a week to practise. Luckily (as you will find out later) they had sold out of matching clutch bags. ( a picture representation)
Each day that week I practised walking around my home and the surgery, but still fearful of venturing out in the street. I thought the best thing was to try going to post a letter and I managed to get back in one piece. My main fear was falling or turning on my ankle. I have previously had a minor fracture of a bone in the ankle just stepping from a kerb in flat shoes so I am aware of the dangers of a postmenopausal women risks of broken bones.
I realised that although with the help of my freedom pass I could travel to the church in Central London by tube there would be some walking involved. I decided that in no way would I have the courage to walk in Kitty heels any further than the nearest bus stop and I must leave plenty of time, the only answer was to carry some flat shoes with me as back up. I hadn’t bought my matching bag so now I must look for a matching bag with enough room for flat shoes. I found the bag , not quite a portmanteau, packed the shoes and carried my fascinator…..
I stepped off the train found the stairs not too bad but then I stepped on to the street; I had not bargained for cracks around the pavement slabs and all I could see were the cracks and the fear of getting the heel stuck overwhelmed me and I went back to my childhood stepping from slab to slab avoiding the cracks whilst women scurried past me with heels twice the height and not a fear in sight. I steered myself to the side of the pavement and as discretely as possible changed my shoes.
My next challenge was to find my way to the church, no problem I thought as I have a sat nav on the phone. When I had circled the tube station once if not twice I stopped a tourist who directed me by showing me the way on his Chinese map of London! I walked briskly in my flat shoes and then when I saw the church I stopped around the corner put on my Kitty heels and my fascinator, braced myself to walk confidently towards the church. Oh no, the road I had to walk on was cobbled- this was a real test. Gingerly I walked up the path to the church now on tip toe and waiting outside were these stunningly beautiful young men and women I had known so well for almost 20 years. I had given them lifts home from a variety of venues some more dubious than others, fed them, hosted them in sleep overs, given them admin work when they were students, listened to their gossip their hopes and fears found their cigarette stubs and empty bottles. Along with my own children they warned me which stations were no go areas at night, which lines to avoid and which taxi service to choose to be safe and how to avoid it getting hijacked and much more. Now they had blossomed into handsome, attractive and vibrant young people working as doctors, managers, lawyers, journalists, film makers, financiers, and teachers around the globe.
They greeted me with
” Hello, Dr Bayer I love your dress and those shoes are georgeous!” ” Thank you ” I replied, smiled but thinking to myself how much I would love to put those flat shoes on!
The service was beautiful the music amazing and now as I had been sitting with the young set I was told we now have to lead everybody to the boat to take us down the Thames so we must not hang around and get going. I then braced myself and followed them trying to look confident and fearless. I reached the boat intact and slumped into a seat with a cup of tea kicked off the shoes nonchalantly and relaxed for the trip.
Finally we reached the destination and as I looked out of the window I viewed the long jetty to the bank. Then I realised that it was made of decking with cracks between every board. It took only three steps for my kitty heels to be stuck twice needing aid from helpful male boatmen to prize the shoe out. I thought 20-30metres of this was not an option especially as there were tens of people behind me so I simply had to smile elegantly take them off and skip along to the end with panache. Unfortunately 20 mins prior to this we had had the only rain shower in many weeks so my feet were a little damp!
At the end of the jetty I put back the shoes and walked through the gate across the newly watered lawn and discovered how heels sink in soft earth!
At last I arrived at the venue and greeted the parents of the bride who were poised and elegantly dressed and they dutifully said thank you for coming and commented that that they had heard a lot about me. That left me wondering what they had heard?
I was then placed next to retired GP’s who were bemused as to why I hadn’t given up work and that I was still getting some job satisfaction and were envious I had such a great partner who was so supportive at this time of my life. As we get older it is so important to stand back, hold on to those solid ideals but capture the blind enthusiasm of youth and allow them to find new or reinvent old ideas to manage the present and the future.
I thought it prudent to leave before the dancing to avoid a potential ‘ kitty heel ‘ disaster!
It was an uplifting experience and a joy to see a group of young people working hard, enthusiastic, travelling from all corners of the earth to reunite on this special occasion.
By coincidence I sat near a young GP who was now working in the practise where my family belonged in a Nottinghamshire village where I grew up and I was able to reminisce about my formative years and how things had changed..
One of the highlights was an abridged Persian( Iranian)Aghd ceremony of marriage and a Persian senior member read beautiful poetry in Farsi and English during the ceremony two pieces of crystallized sugar (shaped like cones) are rubbed together, a symbolic act to sweeten the couple’s life together bride and groom feed each other honey symbolising a better and sweeter life. following this there was sharing of Persian delicacies to demonstrate the hospitality so typical of a middle Eastern culture.It is so important to be aware of these ancient ceremonies so that we can understand the futures of those we live amongst.
more at: http://www.iranchamber.com/culture/articles/iranian_marriage_ceremony.php#sthash.MOAddglL
The reason I wrote this blog because wearing Kitty heels reminded me of how vulnerable you can be if you set out unprepared at this stage in your life. I want to remind those postmenopausal women or if you are inviting a postmenopausal woman to join you how the fear of falling can be a reality and a fractured femur, ankle or simply a fall can spoil not only a great day out but much more.
Central London is on our doorstep and there is lots to see and experience but go prepared, take the lead from those who know it well. The Freedom Pass is a ticket to ride it broadens your horizons , it takes you on the train, the bus and on the river for FREE . As an elderly man said to me one day when I remarked how fit he was for his age, “if you don’t use it you lose it” and that means getting out there to walk, enjoy and be part of the great city you live in and avoid the fears and lack of confidence that can so easily take over and it could all be Free.
TIPS for seniors in London
- Wear good footwear or carry it in a bag
- Consider using a walking poles obtained from Arnold’s in West Ealing or any other outdoor leisure shop
( probably not very chic to attend a wedding !) but they can be bought cheaply and improve confidence in walking on uneven surfaces.
Basically if two trekking poles are used effectively it:
· Increases speed
· Provides extra stability
· Reduces fatigue and
· In turn can increase the distance traveled in a day
· Provides an upper body work out too
· Allows you to walk looking up at the view and NOT down at the ground!
- Make sure you have enough money for a taxi incase you need it at least
- Look up your journey prior to setting off. Print it off on if possible using
- Get a senior railcard and enjoy the use of your Freedom Pass
(Trips to Brighton, Windsor or Oxford)
- Use modern technology to find a place to eat and how to get to your destination or take a picnic in a small backpack to have hands free
Find out what’s on and check whether there are concessions.we often have 2 for the price of one tickets in the surgery for shows or plays- ask at reception
For those younger readers pass on the tips to your older relatives or friends and let them enjoy some of the fun!
Don’t follow my example and make life difficult, if this amused you and made you laugh that will have added a few minutes to your life!
History of Kitty ( kitten) heels
They were introduced in the late 1950s as formal fashion attire for young adolescent teenage girls as higher heels would have been considered unseemly for girls as young as 13 because of the sexual connotations and unease of walk. They were sometimes referred to as “trainer heels” in the US, indicating their use in getting young girls used to wearing high heels. I think I got it wrong- trying to regain my youth!