Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The World at My Feet

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The World at My Feet

Article excerpt

With a keen eye for a bargain, I recently snapped up a new pair of sensible shoes for only £17. I thought that such frugality would earn some approval from the budget-holder of the household, but instead she asked anxiously, "You didn't buy them from Shop X, did you?"

Apparently we had previously bought two pairs of shoes there for our daughter - poor thing. Didn't I remember how one pair had deteriorated within a matter of minutes and the other had melted in the searing heat of an Oxfordshire autumn?

I assured her that my pair would tell a different tale. Both shoes looked as solid as rocks (in fact, bore some resemblance to them) and had a chic-sounding name printed inside, suggesting a rather exclusive Italian heritage.

When I debuted them at school I was soon attracting prolonged gazes - partly on account of their considerable bulk, but mainly because of the deep, militaristic noise my feet were making. I felt and sounded at least a foot taller.

Every step I took seemed to advance my professional persona by a mile. No management training course ever achieved such a thing. No longer did I come across as a soft-centred humanities teacher, silently padding around other people's space in an unassuming manner. I only had to take a few paces to become a man of steel; someone with presence and gravitas; a figure people would listen to very carefully if they knew what was good for them.

Playground duty suddenly began to feel like Call of Duty, with children meekly backing away as I approached. …

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