Here is a photo of Kaiser Karl (der Grosse, 742 - 814), known to his mates as Charlemagne.
If you think "Grosse" sounds pretty insulting, just keep in mind that his father was apparently known as King Pippin the Short, which is infinitely worse, I reckon.
Me and Kaiser Karl have become mates of late, largely because his stony likeness is positioned beside a pile of rocks which Madeleine finds irresistable. We can't walk by without her spending a good twenty minutes scrabbling about on them. And, you know, it's not like I've got a whole lot of pressing engagements right now. So I sit beside Kaiser Karl and watch the world pass by.
Last week I ended up spending even more time than usual sitting beside Karl because Madeleine was busy working on the theme song for a new character she's invented called 'Emily Rude'. The song went:
and was accompanied by a complex dance routine which, apparently, could only be performed on the rocks surrounding Kaiser Karl.
So to kill the time while Mads worked I decided to embark on a photographic project I've been planning for some time about footwear in Frankfurt. I'll admit straight up that I was hoping for knee high socks and sandals. So I got my camera out and tried to take some surreptitious photos of the people walking by. Having a small child is a good cover for exercises like this. For one thing, no one suspects a bored-looking mother of taking photos of people's feet. And for another, having a three year old singing about Emily Rude at the top of her lungs is a great diversion.
But my photographic exercise totally bombed. For one thing I kept taking photos of my lap, and not in an amusing, titilating way, just in a boring, close up of fabric, 'what the hell is that?' kind of way. Secondly, the footwear that passed me by was very conventional. Runners mostly. And sensible, but unremarkable walking shoes. No knee-high socks at all.
And then, of course, then I noticed that by far the most impressive examples of German footwear I'd spotted all days were those worn by none other than Madeleine and myself. Oh, the irony! And how predictable. In fact, there is probably some multi-syllabic German word that exactly describes this situation. I had on some birkenstocks and Mads was wearing some brand new red and orange German runners, paired with purple socks. Because really, what other socks would you wear with red and orange runners?
So here is a shot of Kaiser Karl (der Grosse)'s foot next to the foot of Madeleine Pearl (die kleine)'s:
Kaiser Karl's shoes are rather nice, don't you think? They remind me a little of these:
These are 'indoor only' shoes made by Elephant and Chickpea. Not German, but quite lovely. Perhaps I will buy myself some (once the shop reopens), seeming as how I'm a Haus Frau these days. I rather fancy swishing around on the floorboards in these. At the moment my indoor shoes are, well, socks. Kaiser Karl would not approve.
Then last night, I was cooking dinner (in my socks) and Madeleine came in and pulled something out of the kitchen drawer. 'Mummy,' she said. 'This is what Emily Rude looks like':