Gum Boots and Heels


(Catharine Higginson) #1

It’s been a relatively calm week in the Higginson household. Only one car broke down. Only three extra teenagers were found asleep in various corners of the house on Friday night. The pony didn’t escape and eat the neighbours hanging baskets. I didn’t get summoned to school to discuss anyone’s behaviour and I only received two demands for payment from officious French government departments. I even managed to get a fair amount of work done. All in all, things were swinging along pretty well, until I suddenly realised that having offered to be a case study for a fellow journalist, the paper in question was going to require photos. Now being married to a photographer, you would imagine that this is not a huge issue, but when the paper in question requests a ‘Nice looking background’ and you live in the “Hovel from Hell,” this can be a little tricky.


As it has been raining for about six weeks, there was no way that we could rely on the sun shining and doing the “I’m living the dream in France” shot. If you took any pictures in our garden at the moment, the result would be more of a “I’m really interested in WW1 and have recreated my own trenches” shot. Most of the interior of the house would be perfect if you were shooting a feature on squalid living conditions in former Soviet states, But it doesn’t really cut it as a nice backdrop. So we did the only thing possible and built a backdrop. We selected one end of the main room and Mr. H spent the weekend building a stud wall and and plaster-boarding. A few coats of paint later and with the addition of a newly built bookshelf, a rug and a suitably French enamel sign, we had our backdrop.


Then there remained the slight problem of my outfit. The request was for a smart frock and heels. Does anyone renovating a property in France wear heels? I think I last wore a pair about three years ago for my brother’s wedding and even then, I had to borrow them from a friend. Unfortunately most of my friends in these parts are also renovating houses or run farms, therefore gum boots or clogs tend to be the footwear of choice. Even if I wanted to buy a pair, that would prove tricky. Boutique French shoe shops are full of highly desirable designer efforts, with price tags to match. The out of town shopping mall type stores, only seem to cater for small children or prostitutes. I have never yet found anything I would consider wearing in one of these shops. Last winter, I searched in vain for a pair of boots that didn’t make me look like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. In the end I gave up and wore wellies. As I write the hunt is still on for an acceptable pair of heels. I have a 48 hour window to find a pair, so at the moment, wellies and a lot of work in photo-shop is looking like the best option.