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Confessions of a Croc convert

Josh Goodwin explains why the most unlikely of icons has led to him giving the plasticy clump of a shoe a second chance (but you can still forget 'minimalist trainers').

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Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson
Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson

The billionaire genius Sergey Brin, arguing in favour of his company's "Google Glass" newfangled computer-spectacles, claimed in February that smartphones were "emasculating". Now, he might have meant a different word to "emasculating", but then I can sort of see where he's coming from. We've all laughed at some wally "walking around hunched up, looking down, rubbing a featureless piece of glass" (Brin's words), wandering into a concrete pillar - but it felt a bit rich coming from a man who's known to wear a pair of bright red plastic sandals on his feet.

The offending items are called "Crocs", and there's a lot of valid things you can say about them: they're a load of old crock, you look like a cock, and so on (I'll save you the slightly cringing rhyme). But then that has all been said before.

You'd have to at least suppose that great thought leaders of our generation, such as Brin, must have good reasons for swearing by them quite so avidly. Perhaps comfort, ventilation, waterproofness, and the good posture they promote. But it's hard to escape the fact that they look very silly indeed, and so I would propose that nobody would go near them without some very baggy trousers to cover you dignity.

But then, I am suggestible. For instance, I recently replaced a perfectly handsome canvas satchel - as sported by Jack Bauer, Indiana Jones, and I'm sure numerous hipster-types - with a distinctly anoraky rucksack: outdoorsy and practical and with needlessly many different zippable compartments. It turns out to be a far more efficient means of distributing weight about one's shoulders, and I'm delighted with it. So perhaps it was inevitable that, when the sun shone for a few days last week, and my respectable leather boots became consequently sweaty, my common sense sort of melted and suddenly I'd bought a pair of Crocs. Navy blue, one of the less outrageous colours, but still unmistakably and undignified, Crocs.

The rumours are true. They are comfortable. They do promote good posture. I shod myself and stood up probably an inch taller, just like that. I could have gained the same benefits by paying a quack doctor pots of money to rub fish oil into my back, but I'd really just spent a penny under £17 on a pair of shoes. It felt amazing. I went for a walk, bouncing along, not even minding that my sockless feet felt a bit chilly. They do make you look like an overgrown toddler, but they also recreate the boundless joy of being a toddler, and who doesn't want that. And besides, if you can't look like a twit when you're a student...

Photo credit: Josh Lowensohn
Photo credit: Josh Lowensohn

So what this all means is that Sergey Brin, not content with being a squillionaire genius who co-invented Google, probably does have his head screwed on when it comes to footwear after all. Which is a disappointing outcome. But it turns out that, more recently, he's been seen wearing some more expensive sorts of unusual footwear, such as these "Vibram FiveFingers" "minimalist trainers", which have individual toes and unlike my holed friends are not just torrid-looking but also strangely creepy.

What a silly man. He couldn't look more foolish if he wore a miniature computer on his face. He should get himself a pair of Crocs.

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