Our next port of call was Alani's, whose flamboyant front-of-house person also designs the shoes. We ripped off our sensible, dodge-the-potholes-and-dogshit BA pavement shoes and began trying on. Madam was hyperactive and attention-seeking but it was all good fun. Until she held out a pair for S to try. S slipped one on, shook her head: "No, they don't suit my foot." Madam tossed her head. "I make shoes for dancing, not for queens!"
We discovered later that the appropriate BA response to this kind of verbal assault is to toss one's own head even more haughtily and declare, "I am a queen."
But since we're New Zealanders, jaws dropping and faces flushed with outrage, we left the shop. Never to return for the very nice salmon pink sandals that had caught my eye.
Flabella's, just around the corner, was near capacity with prospective early-evening buyers and encroaching stacks of shoe boxes. C had already been waiting 25 minutes for someone to produce something in her size when S and I arrived, freshly insulted from Alani's. The head honcho was taking up more his share of tight space. He flounced about theatrically in his perfectly tailored pale suit, kissing the hand of every woman who came in and lavishing all-purpose compliments on any female within earshot. I took him outside to show him a shoe I wanted to try, but he was so busy getting his hands on me that I wasn't confident he heard a thing. When I tried to explain that I had a bunion which might cause difficulties, his adoration knew no bounds: "I love you! I love your juanete!" he crowed. Not enough, however, for these shoes or any others to be fetched from wherever they had to be fetched from in the next 20 minutes.
Flabella's website claims that only 20 pairs of shoes are finished every day and since there were at least 21 potential buyers in the shop ... well, you do the maths.
C had already left in disgust. We found her across the road in Scarpe Mahara. The shop stocks tango and street shoes designed to be stylish and comfortable (sorry, they don't have a website, nor are they interested in selling long-distance). The middle-aged couple aren't all over you like a rash, but do seem to be in the business of actually selling shoes. In spite of the language barrrier, C was making more headway here than we'd managed to make anywhere else. The upshot was C - one pair, Jane - two.
C's were classic 30s numbers in black suede, with a lowish heel and thin double instep straps. She liked them so much she went back for another pair.
Nothing, so far, had either appealed to or fit S. That might have been because, in her heart of hearts, she was hanging out for Comme Il Faut. About which, more later.
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