Dom Joly: Lace-up, buckle, killer heels... just so long as they fly

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The Independent Online

Shoe-throwing is the new black. Everybody is at it. I fully expect somebody to put in an application for it to become an Olympic exhibition sport in 2012. The joy of this activity is that anyone can do it – you don't need specialist equipment or clandestine training. If someone is annoying you, simply remove your shoe and hurl it at them.

If I'm being scrupulously fair, I have to admit that George Bush reacted quite coolly to his shoeing in Iraq. He, of course, earned the rare distinction of a double shoe attack, the highest insult in the shoe-chucking world. Last week, however, the Chinese premier only warranted a single shoe attack – which was a bit insulting, as it was a trainer, a soft shoe, unlike the ones Bush ducked. Chucking a trainer is the equivalent of shooting someone with blanks. Surely steel-capped Doc Martens would be the weapon of choice for the connoisseur?

Everyone keeps going on about how a shoe assault is the greatest insult you can produce in the Arab world. I grew up in the Middle East and I have never been aware of this fact. Obviously I know you have to take your shoes off in a mosque, but I always presumed that this was some form of practical cleaning directive.

I went to school in Beirut, but shoes were never part of our playground hierarchy of violence. In fact, the first time I became aware of the power of the shoe in political protest was when I watched that mob spend ages trying to pull down the statue of Saddam (why was he called Saddam? We never called Hitler Adolf or Stalin Joseph ... what was that all about?). When they finally managed to get an American vehicle to pull the statue down, they all started spanking it with their shoes. This, we were told by Rageh Omaar in his breathless live commentary, was a powerful symbol of Iraqi defiance.

Most people now agree that this "mob" was bussed in by the Americans to make some good television. I can't help wondering if they were given the "shoeing" advice by the same person who told Cheney and Rumsfeld they would be welcomed into Iraq with garlands of flowers and rose water? It seems pretty obvious why people throw shoes – especially in press conferences with tight security – because it's about the only solid thing that they're left with. You could try hats, which fly well, but they don't do much damage unless you're Oddjob. I suppose a chunky watch could hurt a lot, but then you'd lose the watch and somebody as thick as Bush would probably think he was being showered with presents.

The shoe makes sense. My advice, however, to future shoe attackers is to use a female operative. A well-aimed pair of six-inch stilettos could be used to devastating effect (again there is a Bond precedent with the horrible Rosa Krebs and her "killer" pumps). At press conferences you'll soon have to remove all your clothing and footwear and sit naked on the floor writing notes with tiny bits of chalk. You watch: it'll happen.

Meanwhile, the man who threw the shoe at Bush has become a global hero. The make of shoe he threw has supposedly been identified by an enterprising shoemaker in Turkey as one of his products. He already has hundreds of thousands of advance orders for them. I wonder what he'll call them? Maybe Bush Puppies? Why not Bush Whackers?

It will only be a matter of time until Nike and Reebok are competing for that lucrative Third World throwing shoe market. Someone should invent a shoe that comes back to the owner... they could call it a "shoemerang". Sorry, couldn't resist that.

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