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If the shoe fits....

I always warn new reporters to make sure they have a pair of wellies handy for work, as you never know when you’re going to need them.

They usually give me that pitiful look of “here she goes again”, nod in the right places, smile and then move the conversation on.

But the reporter who had to turn out one day to a story about a badly flooded road wishes he’d listened. His best pair of leather shoes were soaked and muddy, and even when they’d dried out a few days later, they were never the same.

At least he got the story, and some decent photos so not all was lost.

Strappy shoes look good but aren't always great for work
Strappy shoes look good but aren't always great for work

I speak from bitter experience. Fairly soon into my reporting career, a similar thing happened to me.

Just a few months into my job, I was keen to impress and always made sure I looked the part. Trainee reporters have never earned a fortune – and never will – but I’d borrowed some money from my mum and dad to get myself some smart clothes, and two pairs of heeled shoes – one black, one brown.

They weren’t too high – I knew I’d have to run to (or from) something at some point, but did the job.

That was until I was asked last minute to go and cover a photocall for the launch of Diggerland.

Off I set, notebook in hand, not really giving the dull weather a second thought, until I turned up on site and had to walk through a muddy field to see a digger in action and interview the team.

As I walked, I squelched and I felt as ridiculous as I looked. How I managed to keep my shoes on at all is anyone’s guess, but I ploughed on, filed the story, binned my shoes and bought not only replacement shoes but a pair of boots which from that day were always in the back of my car.

Wellies are best
Wellies are best

These days, my work is more office-bound and I can indulge a little more in my love of shoes, but there’s always a pair of flats somewhere in case I need to hot-foot it somewhere.

Dress codes are important, and for a reporter they’re hard to get right – in the morning you could be covering a funeral and in the afternoon visiting a farm – but as long as you show some respect in your attire, your footwear can be forgiven as long as it’s appropriate.

So I have every sympathy for Nicola Thorp, who turned up for her first day’s work as a receptionist at City firm in flat shoes and was told by the agency employing her, Portico, to go and buy some 2-4 inch heels or go home, without pay.

Her nine-hour shift involved a lot of walking, escorting clients to meeting rooms, so it seemed a sensible thing to do.

Portico is now reviewing its dress code. Better late than never.


Talking of attire, I had a bit of a clear out at the weekend. When you can’t open the drawers under the bed any more because there’s too much crammed in, some of it unworn for several years, something has to go.

So the skin-tight, size 12, leather-look trousers I wore, and adored, in my 20s have finally made it to the charity bin.

I have finally admitted that I am never going to be that size again, and even if I am, a woman in her 40s probably shouldn’t be wearing skin-tight fake leather, and even if she does, 1980s boot cut probably won’t be in fashion and it will be time to buy new.

So off they went to charity (no doubt turning up at a fancy dress party sometime soon) along with my black and white patterned blouse that looked like an optical illusion and a much loved jumper that I bought when Tiffany made knitwear fashionable (Google her, kids).
My loss is Kent Air Ambulance’s gain.


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