I didn’t know shoes needed airing… Maybe in the 1940’s and 50’s when Ruth Drew wrote her articles and broadcast on the BBC and shoes were made differently with more natural and organic materials then it was important. here she adds some ‘odds and ends’ of information about shoes, including the Golden Rule number one priority…

… put your shoes on shoe trees as soon as you take them off – trees which fit properly so the creases of wear are smoothed out. If you don’t possess such things, at least you can scrumple up newspaper and pack it carefully in the toes.

This rings such a bell for me! When I was a child, and right through to when I was a student living in ghastly bedsits and so-called ‘flats’, I travelled about mostly by walking, or cycling, or catching a bus which often involved waiting at bus stops. Especially when I lived in Manchester, on the west and wet side of the country, I often arrived home soaked and would take off my shoes and scrumple up newspaper and stuff it into them  just as Ruth describes. When we were children we didn’t have central heating, so the shoes would be to the side of the fireplace where it was warm but not directly in front of the fire, on newspaper, slowly drying out. Nowadays I put newspaper filled wet shoes in the airing cupboard… which brings me onto Ruth’s next piece of advice:

Then you probably know the shoes need airing. For this reason they’re best parked on a rack in an airy place. But as a matter of fact, strong as it is, leather is quite temperamental stuff. It’s sensitive to extreme mes of temperature, for one thing. For another, it’s affected by perspiration. There are acids in perspiration which have a rotting effect. That’s why the importance of airing shoes must be emphasised – to give them a chance to breathe and get rid of this acidity.

I think there are only trace amounts of lactic acid in sweat… but even so, I’m sure Ruth is right to advise shoe airing!

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