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Francesca Martinez

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Francesca appeared in the BBC children's series Grange Hill for five years, but is now an award-winning stand-up comic who has performed at the Edinburgh, Melbourne and Montreal festivals, as well as on Broadway in New York.

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I Love High Heels

31st December 1999

So, I've had 24 years to accept the fact that there are some things that I will never, ever be able to do. And, by and large, I'm pretty cool with my list of no-no's, which include:

Waitressing ("Would you like your food on your face or in your lap?").

Plucking eyebrows (I'm not into facial piercings).

Tight-rope walking (or just - walking).

Heroin addiction (I can't thread a needle, let alone stick one in a vein).

Bomb-disposal expert (talk about trying anything once).

But there is one limitation I just can't get my head around ...
A high-heeled shoe
OK, here goes ... I know they say 'size doesn't matter', but to me it does - enormously. As far as I'm concerned, the more inches, the sexier it becomes. Just looking at one can make me go weak at the knees - granted, that isn't a major achievement, considering my lack of balance. The last one I saw was a deep, dusky red. It must have been at least four inches high, with two thin, winding straps ready to tie elegantly around the ankle, and a toe so delicately pointed you could tickle a baby's tummy with it. I remember debating whether to go inside, sit down, and ask if they had my size. But why? I can't walk in stilettos!! My most optimistic guess was that I'd be able to stand completely still for three seconds, but I failed to convince myself that was a good enough reason to buy a pair of high (we're talking ear-popping) heels. I'd get better value for money if I sat down in them all night, though. I could have a dinner party and spend the whole evening sitting down chatting and then when it was time for dinner, I could say they were too tight and take them off.

What is it about high heels that makes them so appealing? Easy. You're saying, "Look everyone, I'm so feminine I only need a pair of toothpicks to hold me up." My well-worn Caterpillar boots came with a leaflet which proudly stated that they were suitable for, "Any weather. Any terrain. Any climbing". I've tested out rain and mud, but I think they are otherwise over-qualified for my feet. I really should have grown to love the whole 'flat-shoe thing' by now. I mean, my CP just isn't partial to tottering around on a pair of one square centimetre skyscrapers.

On the plus side - I am 5'8", which means that I don't actually need the extra height. But how often does anyone need a pair of sexy shoes? For me, it's about having (or not having) the option to buy a shoe. Don't get me wrong - there are some lovely ballet-shoe styles out there, but I would like to own them out of choice not necessity.

You are probably thinking that I have spent far too much time pondering this particular footwear issue, and I am inclined to agree with you. Alas, that time has already been wasted, so I might as well share with you my proposed solution to this fashion dilemma.

The Problem: Francesca wants to wear high heels. Her balance says "NO!"

The Aim: To attain a pair of high heels that look good and that Francesca can walk in.

The Conclusion: The shoes will be designed to have a special retractable heel. This unique mechanism will allow the shoe to be flat when walking but (here's the science part) when Francesca is seated or stationary, a heel will come shooting out and click into place. Once on the move again, the heel will retract and - voila! - balance will be restored, the world saved and peace ... all right, it's not rocket science, but I'm sure my Year 7 science teacher would be proud.

So, I had the answer. Now all I had to do was to wait for the right time ...
A high-heeled shoe
At the beginning of this year's Edinburgh Festival, I celebrated my birthday. The day before, The Independent rang me up and asked me what my birthday wish would be. After briefly flirting with the idea of something involving a man and a kilt, I remembered my shoe fetish.

"Oh easy," I said. "A pair of retractable high heels."

The next day, The Independent printed my request and, lo and behold, a day later my agency received a call. It was from a company who had read the piece, offering to design me a pair! I couldn't believe it! I assured my agent that it hadn't been a joke, and that he should take them up on their kind offer. And here I am, waiting to see what the first ever pair of retractable heels will look like. Mind you, I can't help wondering what would have happened if they had printed the 'man in a kilt' birthday wish ...


    • 1. At 08:22am on 20 Aug 2009, stephjonson wrote:

      im a very curvy (size 16-18) and 5 foot 10, i live in heels - at least 4 inches high
      it doesnt take long to learn to walk and live in heels, practice at home in low to medium, then gradually increase the heel height,
      just beacause you are a 'big girl' dont be put off by heels- stand tall (and sexy)

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