It’s clear, by the contents of my washing line, that I’m spending a significant proportion of my life in pyjamas these days. I’d like to say I’m always up and dressed by 11am, but the truth is, on Tuesday and today, I’ve spent the entire day either asleep in bed, or awake in bed. The effort required to get dressed seems hardly worth it when I haven’t the stamina to leave my room, except when there’s cake involved. But on days when I’m awake and raring to go, the trickiest thing in the mornings is physically getting ready to leave the house. I’ve already written about the effect of hand pain on my piano playing, and it’s the fine motor skills that seem to disappear first thing in the morning.
Velociraptor hands are a cross between:
- that tingly puffy feeling a bit like chilblains when you put your hands on the radiator on a snowy day
- that shocked, numb pain that you get if you’ve just smacked a wall, but also the bruisy feeling you’d get later
- holding a golf ball in the palm of your hand while trying to pick up other things with your fingers
- being a velociraptor – all enthusiasm but no flexibility in your fingers, so your hands just look a bit stupid and underevolved
Sometimes, a sprained feeling in my wrist also means I can’t support myself on handrails, so the long wobble downstairs to my Cheerios turns into an elbowy crab impression. Later on in the day, when I’m tired, my hands will shake and I’ll struggle to hold a piece of paper. (More on that next week – I’ve another gadget being delivered to the office.) By far the most infuriating morning symptom is being a velociraptor.
All in all, this makes getting dressed a nightmare. And when, inelegantly, you’ve crabbed downstairs; attempted cereally clumsy flailing in the kitchen; purposefully overbalanced against the wall, not the door of the shower; and sat to clean your teeth; the last hurdle of getting dressed quickly with velociraptor hands can be the difference between making it to the train before needing a rest, and needing a nap before going out at all thus bypassing the morning. On bad days, buttons, heels, zips and laces are all out of the question. But standards are standards, and I’m not quite ready for the beige velcro yet.
This week’s fun gadget is the elastic shoelace. There are a few options available – coiled ones, thin laces with blobs on, and regular straight ones. Given my shoes are black, the laces aimed at kids (fluorescent and short)(the laces, not the kids), and boots (eyelet size much larger) wouldn’t work, plus I couldn’t find anywhere local to buy them. But after this weekend’s 5k run (watching my lovely sister), we headed to Teddington, where there’s a Sweatshop selling elastic laces. £5 for two pairs, when regular string ones are about £2 a pair.
As an aside, they also sell loads of coordinated lycra, if you’re someone who can do exercise and likes offending peoples’ eyes less than those in uncoordinated lycra, but more than those in real clothes. (That was not a pointed remark in any way. But honestly, mauve, fluoro yellow, and stripy blue and white? Almost as bad as tailored shorts… Culprits, you know who you are.)
How they work:
Just like normal laces, except there’s a mechanism at the top a bit like you have on a cagool, which you squeeze then tug gently to release the laces. If squeezing something that size is too difficult, it’s possible to put the shoes on without undoing the laces (you just have to hold the tongue in place), and very easy to kick them off, like slip-ons. I’d imagine as they wear in, the elastic will give a bit, so it’ll be yet easier. Unlike normal laces, elastic laces make your shoes grip your feet a bit more actively, so they feel less slippy when I’m wearing them too. They look ‘normal’ – noticeably different if you’re looking at them, but you’d have to be an extrovert computer scientist for that.
Why they’re brilliant:
It avoids the awkward conversation, which I have had:
“Did you know, your laces are undone?”
“Yes, I’d noticed, thank you.”
How do you say that, while you know your laces need fastening, it’s too much energy to crouch down to them, and when you get there, you won’t be able to do them up anyway? I’ve not asked anyone to tie my shoelaces for me since I was, I don’t know, three or four? And then was usually family members, not colleagues…
Review: A complete energy, time, and dignity saver.
PS If my Oxford commas annoy you, just say – I’m going through a phase of using them to see how it makes me feel.