Think what it must be like to be rejected by your own shoes. For Terry Flangepoppet of Winchingchester, this unlikely scenario has been an everyday reality since he was six and he first realised that he was allergic to his own footwear.
Sensitivity to footwear - or cloggitis, to give it its made-up name - is a rare but debilitating condition that afflicts its sufferers in extraordinarily dramatic ways. Feet brought into contact with shoes, boots, slippers or moccasins immediately become inflamed, bloated and putrescent. In the most violent cases sufferers are physically propelled out of their own shoes, sometimes with quite spectacular force. In fact, during the Middle Ages the condition was commonly known as 'SneezyToe' because, when coupled with the accompanying 'whooshing' noise, it often appeared that victims had actually sneezed themselves out of their own boots.
Inevitably, many folk cures were suggested, including bathing the feet in warm milk or smearing pig manure between the toes, neither of which would make you a popular house guest. It was even thought that wearing a particularly heavy hat might help a sufferer remain in their footwear and some people even resorted to nailing people into their shoes. None of these cures worked and most managed to cause more physical damage and social awkwardness than simply succumbing to the shame of a barefoot existence.
In fact, it wasn't until the 1960s that the condition was properly identified as an allergic reaction; and 1968 in particular when shoe entrepreneur and verruca enthusiast Dr Schlock invented the first medicated shoe. But while it certainly did help to alleviate the suffering of millions, the medicated shoe did little to help these unfortunate people become accepted in their communities. Being roughly five feet in length, bright green and constantly puffing out thick clouds of menthol vapour, medicated shoes were unsightly, smelly and a source of endless irritation to other passengers on public transport.
Sadly, Dr Schlock's unsociable shoes have been the only choice for sufferers for many years, despite fleeting competition from moisturising sandals and anaesthetic boots that made your feet go to sleep. But a radical change in approach is now imminent with the advent of the Macrombie Shoe Pill. Currently going through the final stages of testing, the Macrombie Shoe Pill will provide a quick, easy and permanent cure for the agony of cloggitis. Experiments on laboratory grade donkeys have shown that just one short course of shoe pills, administered to your shoes with a glass of water after meals, will remedy the condition for good.
And for people like Terry Flangepoppet, that's just the help they need to get them back on their feet.