Friday, 14 August 2009
Shoes and bluestockings...
Did anyone else listen to the Radio 4 series this week on the Bluestockings? I dipped in and out of it (during morning tea breaks; too many cups of tea this week), and it was v. interesting. Made me think of Rosamond Lehmann's first novel, 'Dusty Answer', where 1920s heroine (Judith) goes off to study at Cambridge, at Girton, and has passionate friendship with Jennifer, before being supplanted by scary Geraldine Manners, and all the male undergraduates wear grey flannel. I first read the book when it was out of print -- before it had been rescued by Virago -- in the summer before I started at Cambridge, and was seduced by its romance and intensity. Like this...
'Above the quiet, secretly-stirring town, roofs, towers and spires floated in a pale gold wash of light. What was the mystery of Cambridge in the evening? Footfalls struck with a pang on the heart, faces startled with pale beauty, and every far appearing or disappearing form seemed significant.
And when they got back to College, even that solid red-brick barrack was touched with mystery. The corridors were long patterns of unreal light and shadow. Girls' voices sounded remote as in a dream, with a murmuring rise and fall and light laughter behind closed doors. The thrilling smell of cowslips and wall-flowers was everywhere, like a cloud of enchantment.'
I can still read it now, and feel nostalgic, but because I have shoes on my mind (Coco Chanel's shoes, in the late 20s, as it happens), I started thinking about what Cambridge bluestockings might have worn on their feet, and then -- in the way that these things happen, after midnight -- I started searching for a contemporary equivalent, and found these excellent shoes by Rupert Sanderson.
I think bluestockings would have liked them, and even Mademoiselle Chanel might have approved -- I'm tempted to use the words 'lesbian chic', but that isn't quite right (actually, it's wrong, wrong, wrong). Anyway, you can imagine the footfalls, echoing in Twenties' corridors... Oh, and I can imagine the second Mrs de Winter in the brogues, and Rebecca in the cream high heels, tip-tapping down the staircase at Manderley.