I was going for a walk the other day – I’m supposed to walk for at least twenty minutes a day to keep my lymph system going and I’m getting to really like it – when I saw this little shoe perched up aloft on a fence post. It seemed so poignant and so lost. Kicked off with glee by its little occupant, would it ever be found again? There’s nothing a child likes more than casting away anything that can be thrown out of the pram. But they don’t understand they’ll never see them again. The world is full of missing toddler shoes. And I should know.

Do you recognise this shoe?
Alone and palely loitering

I remember when Child One was minuscule and we were on Clapham Common, and her little red velvet bootee, adorably shaped into a little strawberry, somehow went astray. I retraced our steps immediately, but it was nowhere to be seen. Walking with a friend the following week in Twickenham, pesky Child One managed to wriggle out of a second strawberry bootee (I’d bought an identical pair as I loved them so much). I was resigned, but my friend insisted we look, and suddenly there it was, propped on a park bench. I couldn’t believe it. Yet really, who would steal one bootee? I suppose it is more likely that a dog would have run off with the one left on Clapham Common – and certainly less worrying than thinking there are people out there who wantonly deprive tiny children (and their fashion victim mothers) of singleton items of footwear.

A dog did, indeed, run off with one of Child One’s shoes staying with friends in Italy. It was a wild dog, that had taken to nosing around their grounds. Child One, older now, had nicknamed it Kep after Beatrix Potter’s dog, who looked a similar mishmash of breeds. We searched everywhere for the missing shoe – this time it was a beautiful Lelli Kelly plimsoll, why is it never the rubbish shoes? – but it didn’t turn up for three or four years, when the friends suddenly reported that a tiny mangled shoe had turned up in the garden.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when Child One came back from a barbecue, at the age of 16, one shoe short. Of course it wasn’t just any old shoe, but a Converse trainer, costing a ridiculous amount for a plimsoll. She’d taken both off to go on the trampoline, then come back to find one gone …. never to be seen again.

Of course, I’m eagerly awaiting her invitation to the ball. I know exactly what will happen when the clock strikes midnight. And when Prince Charming comes to call, I hope he’ll have not only the glass slipper, but also the strawberry bootee, the Lelli Kelly sandal and the Converse trainer.

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