The Angry Corrie 11: Feb-Mar 1993
The great debate continues:
4 - CLEANING
Boots need cleaning: this should of course be done immediately on one's return from the hill, but never is. It is morally dubious to clean one's own boots without cleaning the boots of one's walking companion. This means that boot-cleaning may be postponed until the last possible minute before leaving the house, and in extreme cases this may lead to the abandonment of the day's expedition due to the principle of "first ready cleans the boots": each participant prolonging their preparations for the day to such an extent that they can never be accused of being "ready". (A version of the "Borthwick negative hitching" ploy? - Ed.)
Although plastic boots may need only a wash and a quick sole de-stoning (I recommend a potato peeler), the inners need regular fumigation by a professional sanitiser in full protective clothing (eg a zoot-suit), as specified by the Health & Safety Executive.
The occasional paddle in a crystal-clear stream at the end of the day is all that is required to clean flip-flops.
5 - SOCKS
Allied to boot-cleaning is the need for sock-washing. This is often extremely urgent and a panic-stricken desire for clean air may lead to socks being added indiscriminately to the washing machine. This usually renders the entire contents of the load useless, shrinking the socks and dyeing all other garments a delicate if blotchy shade of blue / green / pink or any combination thereof. Old socks are however never thrown out: they are relegated for use as welly socks, gardening socks, socks for visitors, emergency mittens and for filling spare drawers, lining the bottoms of wardrobes etc. Walking socks also come in useful as an answer to the question "What can Aunty Morag get you for Christmas?"
The only socks you can wear with flip-flops are Japanese tabi and unless Muji are selling them you can't get them in Scotland, so that removes that dilemma.
6 - INTERCHANGEABILITY
If you inadvertently pick up someone else's boots (sorry Geoff), it is unlikely that you will be able to walk far in them. Flip-flops are not possessor-specific. They are also unisex, but then so are boots, despite what the manufacturers try to tell you. "Ladies' boots" are just skimpier versions of the real macho male item.
7 - GREENNESS
Flip-flops are far more environmentally friendly than boots. They require no discharge of tanning effluents into Italian rivers and, as they provide virtually no grip, cause minimal erosion. 500 million Africans can't be wrong.
Perhaps flip-flops are not ideal for Scottish winter mountaineering. Fitting crampons is difficult, although a few tricounis could easily be pushed into the soles, while growing your toe-nails long would solve the front-point problem.
Ed. - ... er, but didn't Shakespeare wear flip-flops?
NEXT ISSUE - Wellies v high-heeled slingbacks