It's a cork wedge. It's a cork wedge espadrille in peach. Dead comfy, says Beth as we unload our bags from our heavily condensed coach at Benidorm bus station. Why do yer feet look swollen then? I say, because they really, really do. You try wearing these all night, club, taxi, plane, bloody coach, and not having swollen feet.
It's summer 2010. The girls have gone to Benidorm for our first ever abroad holiday. Ten days. Ten girls. Ten pairs of Dolcis shoes (each) bought especially for the imminent chaos.
Beth rags her case to the pavement, sand and dust and fag ends flicking from its path and all over a group of lads next to her. Watch out! shouts Beth as she wrestles open the zips on her Asda wheelie case and extracts a pair of gold ballet flats from deep in the centre of a tidily packed symphony of bikinis, miniskirts and tanning oils. She sits, stuffs her swollen feet into the gold slipper and shoves the peach espadrille cork wedge into her case. Thank god for Dolcis! she moans in glee.
Dolcis. It was posh(ish). It was the shoe shop of the south, although we were blessed with one in Lancaster eventually - until when we'd had to make our monthly pilgrimage to the Trafford Centre just to stock up on heels, flats, flips and flops which were a little less pricey than Kurt Geiger but a little more posh than New Look's Your Feet Look Gorgeous!
And in a Dolcis shoe - a paisley open-toed stiletto perhaps, a multi pastel-coloured suede chunky heel maybe, a raffia print triple-buckled gladiator boot on occasion - the girls' feet did indeed look gorgeous. Whether on the grey short-piled carpets of Dolcis stores across the country - feet poised beautifully in a floor mirror tilted diagonally upwards - or on the cobbled streets of the Benidorm strip, dodging vomit, tears and a group of men all dressed as Where's Wally.
Dolcis had a shoe for every outfit. Lest we forget that this was the noughties, the time when you wouldn't be caught dead out and about - shopping, pubbing, clubbing, on a Ryanair flight to Benidorm - without matching shoes, clutch and jewels. Purple patent courts, purple patent clutch, purple patent chunky bangles, purple patent hair. Many a Saturday back in my youth was spent darting down the M25 to the Trafford, through the great marble halls and deep into the Dolcis sale rack to find a shoe so specific it was a miracle it had even been dreamed up, let alone put into production. But there it always was. The holy grail of shoes. £14.99 on sale? the girls would yelp with glee, before spending the money saved on shoes on an XL cheesy bites Pizza Hut and being too full to make it on the night out. The shoes firmly in their box, under a bed, excavated a year later and bundled into a case headed for the holiday of our lives.
I need a gold lamé three-buckle knee-high open-toed court with rope wedge. Dolcis.
I need a psychedelic '60s-style kitten heel for my nan's funeral. Dolcis!
I need a royal blue stiletto with a sateen flower at the toe and the heel encrusted with purple jewels. DOLCIS!
But as with most trends in the noughties, Dolcis came and went quick as a flash. Now the girls drop money we don't have on Red Bottoms and you'd never be caught dead matching the shoe to the clutch to the bangles to the lippy. In many ways, thank god it's over. But even with all we know now, it's hard to remember happier moments than Beth cocking her leg, eyes darting between me and the silver-crackle-faux-leather-mahogany-effect-chunky-platform-heel-mary-Jane shoe she was trying in Dolcis while saying, Cankles? Me nodding, her tearing them off and going back to the drawing board.