The most recent entry to the list of my public humiliations took place on my way home from work on Monday. Standing amongst the jostling crowd at Vauxhall station, headphones in and fairly indifferent to my surroundings. As usual, when the train pulled up, the crowd surged toward the doors dragging me in its wake; absentmindedly avoiding the numerous pushchairs, sticks and bags that always seem to appear at this particular moment. Just as I was about to alight, one of my black ballet pumps flew off my foot, slid smoothly beneath the step and disappeared down the side of the train.
Now there was no way of going back, the crowd was too dense and I had no wish to draw attention to myself. So, without so much as a pause, I stepped onto the train and gained my usual spot, crushed between a sweaty suit and a badly controlled rucksack. Only then could I assess the situation.
The gap, the 'Mind the Gap' gap, had just eaten my shoe!
Not only that, but at some point in the very near future, I was going to have to get off this train and there was absolutely no way that people wouldn't notice.
As far as I could see, I had three options. I could get off at Clapham Junction and see if I could find a replacement pair- this would not only involve walking through England's busiest station at it's busiest time, but also the shame of entering an actual shop and presumably having to explain things to the cashier- eugh! I couldn't quite face this idea, so it would have to be options two or three. These were, essentially, to stay as I was, with the one stockinged and one shod foot, or I could take off my remaining shoe and walk home barefoot, making my lack of footwear seem intentional rather than accidental. Since my general fashion style can be best described as ‘hobo chic’, this final option could work, though the possibility of my being sectioned at some point during the 10 minute trek to my house was pretty high. It would also mean that I’d have to remove my other shoe at some point, leading to more awkward questions.
In the end I hobbled home with my single, lonely shoe, doing my very best to avoid the broken glass, fag butts and fox turds that lined the pavements. I called my brother to distract me from my predicament and his gleeful laughter managed to blot out the sniggers and jeers of those passing by.
So my friends,in the future, when you hear the tired station announcer making their well known, repetitive plea, please don't ignore them. Please don't treat their warning with the same complacency as I, because one day it might well be your shoe that The Gap consumes and if it does, I will be pointing and sniggering along with the rest.