TEN years after saying goodbye to his shoes, barefooted hairdresser Colin Aldridge has never looked back.
The 56-year-old goes without shoes most of the time with only conditions like deep snow requiring flip-flops.
The Buddhist was convinced of the shoeless-life after a visit to Pakistan.
Mr Aldridge, who runs Whispers in Cutteslowe, Oxford, said: “There were so many people with nothing on their feet. They just looked happy and I thought ‘I’ll do it’.
“It is a completely different feel than walking about in shoes. You identify the difference between concrete or grass.”
The father-of-four, from Cumberland Road, Cowley, said: “It is more comfortable and more healthy. Your feet don’t stink like when they are in trainers. It just feels better.
“There is one drawback. At the end of the day, when you go home, when you take your shoes off, you get that feeling. I don’t get that, but it is nice to have it all day.
Mr Aldridge, who has had the Kendall Crescent hairdressers since 1990, said the shoeless life is not that hazardous.
He said: “I haven’t had a cut or graze for five or six years. You do become very aware of what’s on the floor. I don’t notice it in Oxford especially. It is nicer to walk on the floor. I don’t get things like fag butts and glass on the floor.”
Walks over five miles, weddings and funerals require footwear, he said, either 16-year-old formal black shoes or eight-year-old trainers.
Another exception is when attending “classy” events with his wife Liza, 40, “to save the wife’s embarrassment”.
He said: “She is very gentle with me. She doesn’t disagree but she and the kids tolerate me, that is probably the correct term. Some people ask if they get cold but they just accept it.”
He added: “I did go to Australia and a lady who ran a pub was very upset with me. She said it was very rude.
“I said ‘Okay, I’ll have my one drink and go’ and that took me three hours to drink.”
He said: “If I bought shoes, I would be replacing them about every six months.
“I would recommend every person do it, even if they don’t do it all the time.”
Customer Jonathan Gardner, 44, a charity fundraiser, from Summertown, was suffering from flu when he encountered Mr Aldridge last month.
He said: “I was wrapped up like in Siberia and this guy walked by barefoot. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“I was born in Nigeria and it is all very well there to be wearing no shoes because it is warm, but in England you have to be crazy.”