Today’s ramblings are of a medical nature. There is a lesser-known condition that is not given the due attention it deserves. At the time of writing there is no United Nations budget to combat it, and fortunately outbreaks seem to have been confined to a specific region of France, but there is always the risk of it spreading.
I am of course referring to Feral Foot. Presenting symptoms include sandalphobia, "an unnatural fear of placing any form of shoe in proximity to the feet", and chronic crustitis. "transformation of normal human skin into a hoof". The heels are particularly sensitive to this and develop their own protective sheath of cracked leather.
To date there is no effective treatment. Medical research has suggested “putting your shoes on” but to a sufferer of feral foot, that advice is like telling a rabid dog to “just have a drink of water, you’ll be fine”. Others have suggested “washing your feet with soap” but this has been discounted by professionals as a dangerous urban myth since it removes the protective layer of crud and leaves the patient vulnerable to getting the feet dirty again.
There are two proposed coping strategies: firstly to accept it is “how it is” and enjoy the week of surfing, drinking, eating, laughing and maybe getting a quiz question right, safe in the knowledge you will once more return to the land of the muggles and will be able to hide the damning evidence inside socks and shoes. Nobody need know and maybe by Christmas it will have reverted to normal. The other popular approach is to just remain feral. This tends to be favoured by staff who follow the “I know I have some shoes somewhere, I can remember packing them back in June” line.
From time to time secondary symptoms present, the feral crust may be broken by a sharp object, known medically as “watch-where-you-are-bloody-walking”, in which case emergency treatment can be applied. Depending on the nature of the injury, this usually takes the form of either superglue or the ubiquitous (great scrabble word when stuck with vowels) Duct Tape, healer of the nations. This is accompanied by a week’s course of “man-up-drink-up-stop-whining” and a prescription to get out surfing as soon as humanly possible.
To date there have been no casualties.
From personal experience, I believe the chronic nature of this disorder is greatly underappreciated. After three months of feral foot, I returned to the UK to discover I was still sandalphobic, resulting in my eviction from numerous establishments (including Trago Mills, the singularly grottiest department store in the whole of Cornwall), only managing to put on footwear when I accidentally cut my foot open on glass during the Halloween fancy dress surf at Newquay.
(Disclaimer: there are other ways of ensuring year-round feral foot but while I am working on convincing the world to give me the budget to set up Feral camps in Central America, the above inkwork will have to suffice. Don't try this at home.... unless you want to)