Minor Royals and in-breeding: A common complaint within the English Aristocracy. The Americans in our congregation know all about this, but we Brits self censor, so have no idea. This inbreeding manifests itself in various ways: The receding chin, the silly walk, the crumbling stately home.
And incredibly girly feet.
Lord Elpus has a serious dose of this ailment, and it falls to me to straighten out this class ridden affliction in time for his stagger across Scotland in just over four weeks time.
His present booties are of the relentlessly waterproof variety. They are relatively unencumbered by leather and are fabricated from lightweight man-made materials with the wonderful petrochemical Gore-Tex lining. Gore-Tex is a miraculous material: It is.... waterproof! This means that when your boots are full of water from joyful bog-hopping the wonderful Gore-Tex keeps all the aquatic pleasure-juices safely inside.
But far worse than Gore-Tex Ghastliness is the rising heel in Lord Elpus' boot. The congenital class-ridden canker. The time has come to cut out this canker from our congregation. The time has come to eradicate this from polite society: Once and for all. The time is today.
We drive 160 miles northwards (north is a good direction if you wish to cut out cankers - south is so 'yesterday') to the fiefdom of foot-fetishists, Alt-Berg of Richmond. Alt-Berg make walking booties in FIVE width fittings - from Very Narrow all the way up to Extra Wide. One of these fittings will surely suffice.
The royal feet are placed on a shining platter. The feet are examined. Tape measures encircle the regal foot. There is a proclamation. "We do not make make footwear for feet like these." Obviously not by 'Royal Appointment' then...
No, it transpires that Lord Elpus has a dark, swarthy, secret ancestry. The Royal British blood has a heady foreign additive. Hanky Panky in the past. Italian red-cells have mixed with the Royal Blue of his veins.
He has Italian feet.
Obviously the excellent boot-fitter has seen this all before and without a murmur, nor even a moment's hesitation, he steers the shocked customer behind the curtains, towards the Zamberlan Section. Out of the public gaze.
The glass slipper is produced and shockingly, the right foot slips in with a silent hiss, fitting snugly, perfectly. But the left foot has a problem. It is too big! Surely, only a temporary disappointment as a larger pair are sought from the huge pile of buff boxes. Then, the sledge-hammer blow. There are no size 45's in stock.
The French Mob has recently assaulted an England-bound Italian truck at Calais. They have mugged the driver and stolen all the Zamberlans! Had it off our toes!
Lord Elpus' jaw drops as far as his non existent boots. He drives home slowly, his tootsies still deadened with disappointment.