Sacha, you can't see the look on the guy's face!
That's a bit extreme for me, though useful perhaps for demonstrating to OSH/shoe police in cinemas that my going barefoot in their cinema is not really going to cause a problem. (Though I have to say I have had major problems at only two cinemas - Sky City in Queen St, Auck; and Berkeley's at Botany Town Centre, Auck)
I do step on the occasional bit of glass on the footpath, and sometimes it's more than a day before I can dig it out. Once I was doing a 10km fun/run as a walker, and trod on a sliver which stayed in my foot. I could of course have stopped, pulled the glass out, then carried on. But because I'm stubborn, competitive, and don't want to be told " see, you should have been wearing shoes", I carried on for the second half of the event with this painful sliver. I got it out eventually about 2 weeks later.
I think some of the glass I've walked on over the years must still be in my feet; at my funeral, they will need to have a sign; fragile, this way up.
Some of the streets in the neighbourhood where I live are quite atrocious for the amount of broken glass on the footpaths. I may be slightly nuts for walking barefoot on them, but it's the people that smash their bottles who are really a sandwich short of a picnic.
I was out walking with my fellow racewalkers one Sunday morning along the old Mangere Bridge, warming up before an event, when a shod guy stopped me, with a " way to go, bare feet" encouragement, adding he was normally barefoot himself, but then he showed my hit photo album of stacks of glass bottles. He tours around the countryside, living in his car I think, visiting prime tourist and natural beauty spots, and scenic reserves. He then gathers up all the discarded glass bottles that are lying about, puts them in neatly in a huge stack, and photographs them.
He is campaigning for a 10 cent refund scheme for glass bottles in the hope that they will not be left casually lying around. Former Minister Chris Carter had not been responsive, neither were the NZ Herald's "Green Pages".
There might also be a strong cultural component, that a result of our Polynesian, british aristocratic blacksheeps partnerships.
I'm sure that Steven is correct, that the acceptance of barefooting in society in New Zealand is the result of the interplay between cultural, and geographic influences.
shoelessness is more predominant in northland than any other part of New Zealand
I recall, about 8 years ago, a piece that ran at the end of the news during summer, which sought to establish Whangarei as the barefoot capital of New Zealand. The reporter with her camera man had located several barefoot Whangarei locals and interviewed them as to their motivation.
I remember one woman saying that "you see more and more quite respectable people barefoot in the street these days" - or words to that effect. Another advanced a number of reasons for her barefooting, including her desire to have a closer spiritual connection to the earth (and then laughed, saying : "Did I really say that?").
The last interviewee, possibly a member of the Ngapuhi population referred to by Steven, simply responded "I don't own any shoes".
Is Whangarei indeed the barefoot capital of New Zealand?
Who are the other pretenders to this throne? I'd suggest that Nelson could be a starter, based on recent holiday experience. And if the net were to be cast wider to include settlements smaller in scale, then Takaka would give many others a run for their money.
Here we see the irresistable combination of climate and an artistic/hippie culture.
@steven: well I'm more than happy to continue the thread - as long as I'm alive and kicking.
Within the Society for barefoot living mail list, New Zealand is often held up as a near paradise for barefooters. Why is this?
I think a large part of the answer lies within geography. The land shapes us in many ways. This country being long and narrow, boasts plenty of coast. Coastal areas tend to be more relaxed, welcoming to barefooters.
The small size of the country and its position on the globe produce a relatively mild climate; temperatures not too hot (well maybe in Canterbury this week) and not too cold are more conducive to a barefoot lifestyle than a country with temperature extremes at either end.
Our island status has helped to shield us from some of the nasties across the ditch - dangerous life in the undergrowth - not to mention the reptiles.
Has the mildness of the climate also rubbed off psychologically on this country's inhabitants, in that the population tends toward the mild and tolerant? ( I may be laying myself wide open for argument here)
Geographic isolation also contributed perhaps to delay colonisation; could later colonisers have brought a more egalitarian bent with them, such that today bare feet do not carry the notion of a lower class, a notion which might falsely affect the minds of some in the U.S.A.
Am I loading too much on to my geographic argument?
We called into Taihape a couple of days ago en route to Ohingaiti; got stuck in a traffic jam after stopping at the New World - 4- no 5 cars passed in a row - reminded me of Auckland.
What I really wanted to say was, it is still a little jarring as we return home from holidays with the girls to get to the Bombay Hills on our way north to Papakura and feel that we are "nearly there". Having been raised on a farm near Rongotea in the Manawatu, and then living in the Wellington region for many years, it is still (even after 7 plus years up here) a bit disconcerting to find Auckland Motorway exit signs whilst heading north as indicators that our journey is nearly over.
I still recall the first time I drove up to Auckland with my wife to be for a Toastmasters function, what a relief it was to leave the city to head south again, with appropriately, The Animals singing"Gotta get out of this place if it's the last thing I ever do" on the radio.
The soft tar of the supermarket carpark on a hot day is one of summer's pleasures.
I wanted to write a little more of the barefoot theme which was at the heart of Emma's original entry.
Whilst I went through schooling - primary, secondary and tertiary as an occasional barefooter, it wasn't really until I discovered the Society for Barefoot Living on the net, that I began to abandon shoes on a more regular basis. The passage of years has also helped me to realise that you are a long time dead, that generally we do not know when our lives will cease, and that continuing to march to the beat of the drum of society's expectations is stealing from ourselves our opportunity to be unique individuals.
It took me about 22 years at work for the same company to get to the stage where I felt I could break out of the regular office dress code expectation, and after some time of small barefoot steps forward, I will now only wear shoes when meeting external visitors. I feel fortunate that at work this eccentricity of mine is not questioned.
I go barefoot because I like it and I can. It is physiologically and psychologically strengthening. My teenage daughter's friends classify me as weird but in a cool kind of way. I can live with that.
I am continually putting myself into situations where barefooting is not the norm, e.g turning up at College BOT meetings unshod, In general most times and places I choose to go barefoot, whilst is there is the occasional sideways glance and more rarely a rude comment, mostly there is acceptance of difference.
I do have occasional problems with members of the shoe police, having one such encounter at a cinema recently. Even when donning a pair of "emergency socks" that I happened to have in my pockets, the cinema ticket girl was not going to let me join my wife and daughter. Socks were not deemed to be sufficiently robust footwear to guard against the risk posed by broken glass that might lurk within the cinema's carpet. My offer to waive all liability was fruitless. It was only after some prolonged negotiation with the ticket collector's supervisor that I was allowed in, on the basis that I promised never to show up barefoot again. Of course when I got to my seat, the socks came off - and as for my promise - well I'm not sure a promise made under duress counts for much.
Now if I conclude with a butchered quotation, I hope I can be forgiven: "Free your soles and your mind will follow"
I could offer someone else's song - Kate Melua - Two Bare Feet
I venture gently into two oh oh nine
walking unshod alongside the railway line
the train is coming for me
to take me to the city
for a lunchtime conversation
and some mental mastication
where not one of the patrons pay -
it must be the public address cafe.
Interesting thread; I also dislike wearing any footwear, and am usually barefoot on the train and at the office. Have sometimes been successful boarding flights barefoot, and sometimes been challenged - Emma ; don't give in to the shoe police - as long as you have some emergency footwear of some description with you that you can whip off as soon as you are on the plane.