Susie Rushton: Ugly shoes or a bike – there's no contest

Urban Notebook

You see them in the traffic, zipping along the inside, faster than everyone else. I was a smug cyclist for a while as well, but too many times, as an unseen lorry lumbered past, just inches away from me, I felt in my chest the ghostly impact of an almost-accident. In the end I left my bashed-up bike to the vultures, tied to a railing in Whitechapel, and submitted to London Transport.

But since The Independent's HQ has been transplanted across the city, to just one postcode away from my flat, I've been liberated from any kind of serious commute.

On Monday, for the first time in seven years, I walked all the way to work. That probably doesn't sound like a big deal if you live in a town, or else is unimaginable if you live in the country, but in the capital it's pretty much the acme of convenience. Free from the grip of the Oyster card, I don't have to hear about minding gaps, people on tracks or signal failures. Neither will I miss the armpits, bad breath, foul tempers, rolling eyes, sharp elbows and JanSport backpacks of the subterranean set.

However, my footwear now sucks. Because after 10 minutes of pounding the pavement, I remembered that while you can pedal in heels, for the city-walker, any type of feminine shoe is out. Somewhere near Olympia, my heels caught fire. Blisters bloomed on every toe. I quit and jumped on a bus.

On the second day, I did what lots of women do and slipped on a pair of battered Nikes and carried the sandals in my bag. It is the practical, but fundamentally unstylish answer. It's also what Lorraine from The Apprentice would do. And I've spent far too much time and money on amassing an intriguing collection of shoes to settle for that.

The stark choice then, is between ugly shoes or death/cycling. Perhaps I'll buy a bike.

Food with attitude

You can eat any ethnic cuisine you fancy in this city – and plenty that you don't fancy, too. Last night we found ourselves in the basement dining room of a Georgian restaurant, eating giant bowls of borscht, pictured, with black bread, steaming vine leaves stuffed with spicy lamb, and a fried baby chicken that appeared to have been punched, quite flat, into the afterlife.

I say "found ourselves" because, like all underground restaurants, this one draws you inside against your will. By the time you reach the bottom of the stairs, the desperately friendly waiter has shuffled you towards a table, and there's no going back. To walk out, after you've actually sat down in the near-empty room and perused the menu, especially one that carefully, heartbreakingly, includes a map of Europe showing exactly where Georgia is – I just couldn't spare the blushes.

Instead, we dined on what may be the sturdiest food I've every tried. If they can fight like they cook, Putin should be worried.

Comments