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Ode To The Geographically Challenged

So I need new dance ghillies, because I've danced a hole in mine, and the cobbler put a really ugly patch on that's falling off already. Mom and Dad Pony said that I could use their credit card to buy a new pair as my birthday present. Yay! Being the methodical Pony that I am, I did my research so that I could acquire the best possible pair of ghillies. All the dancers I asked said that the best place to get them was from James Senior, who runs St. Andrew's Shoemakers, Ltd. in Scotland.

This being the modern era, St. Andrew's has a website, so it's relatively easy to get good Scottish ghillies in Chicago. As I was poking around the website attempting to find an answer to a question,* I noticed something amusing. I clicked on the link marked USA Distributors on the off chance that there was a USA Distributor near me where I could go and ask a person. It turns out there isn't one even remotely close.

There are eight alleged "USA Distributors" of James Senior's ghillies. Three are in Colorado. There is one each in Massachusetts, Nevada, Maryland, and Texas. And the final "USA Distributor?"

Is in . . . Nova Scotia.


All those studies they used to beat us over the head with in high school? The ones that shrieked about how utterly awful U.S. students did in geography compared to The Europeans? The ones that said that, essentially, U.S. high school kids couldn't find their oversized butts with both hands?

Yeah, I don't feel too bad about that any more.

*Are the sizes for ghillies listed in American or British sizes, and what's the difference?


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2007 03:01 am (UTC)
I didn't know you danced too!!

I used to be on the demo team of a Scottish Country Dance group here in Virginia... Oh God I loved doing that! And was briefly with a German country dance troupe...

I miss my ghillies. I miss dancing. I think I need to go hunting and go back to it... :-)

If the vendor is in Scotland, the sizes are British. Check and see if there's a chart on their site--or look here:


For instance, my American shoe size--a women's 8--is a 5.5 in the UK. So it's a pretty big diff. Best to contact them directly and talk turkey, given how cool their product is and how spiff their prices. :-)

Aug. 22nd, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
I didn't know you danced too!!

Really? I thought you knew that -- you mentioned it in one of the notes you wrote me about "Masque of the King Stag." Anyway, yes, I do Scottish. I took it up when I was twenty-two, freshly graduated from the Fairest College, living with the Pony Parents, working at the bookstore to save up money to move to Chicago, and bored out of my mind. I flipped through the local Adult Education brochure to find something neat and wild and physical, and there was Scottish Country Dancing, which I'd never heard of before. It was $30 for a six-week class, and the first day, they were offering ghillies for sale for another $30, so I bought a pair, because, hey, I had a job and was making actual money. Those are the same ghillies that, almost nine years and many balls, tea dances, parties, demos, one Hobbit Outfit, the Shiny Purple Party Dress, and the World's Dinkiest RenFaire later, I am looking to replace.

I did contact the vendor, and they explained it all to me. The sizes are British, but then ghillie sizes are different from your actual shoe size, and for some reason it depends on whether the shoe is straight lasted or has right and left lasts. I think I've almost figured out what size to get, though. I just need to finish reading this one article on Global Ethnoscapes for Comps, and then I can celebrate with some nice birthday shopping.
Aug. 23rd, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
Ghillies all ordered! I'm pretty sure I got the right size. But the nice thing is -- they're dance shoes, and they kind of stretch and mold to your feet.

I just hope they don't use UPS.......
Aug. 22nd, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
Scottish country dancing is particularly popular in Colorado for some reason?

And if they'd only put North American distributors, you'd never have known that someone thought Nova Scotia was in the US. But morons dwell everywhere. And modern geographical education doesn't, unfortunately, test kids on countries and capitals and principle exports and imports.
Aug. 22nd, 2007 11:21 am (UTC)
And if they'd only put North American distributors, you'd never have known that someone thought Nova Scotia was in the US.

Usually, international corporations list "North American" when they have seven U.S. distributors and one in Canada. And all of us U.S. denizens are supposed to be vewy vewy careful to remember that The World Is Not The United States, that Canadians Are North Americans, Too, and all that.

We learned countries in geography class, and some capitals, but not imports or exports. (Admittedly, I had geography the year of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, so there were some politics that leaked in where imports and exports probably should have been.)
Aug. 22nd, 2007 08:22 am (UTC)
What are ghillies? I thought it was a Scottish gamekeeper!

If it's a UK website, I expect the sizes are British - but I'm not sure what the difference is.

Aug. 22nd, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
In addition to being a Scottish gamekeeper, a ghillie is also a soft, laced leather shoe used for Scottish and Irish dancing. So, when Queen Elizabeth visits Scotland, she eats venison acquired by her ghillies, then puts on her ghillies and goes dancing.

I did e-mail St. Andrews Shoemakers, and they told me how the sizes work. They're British, but apparently, dance shoe sizes run a little differently.
Aug. 22nd, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
My Canadian relatives used to get really pissed off at this kind of thing.
Aug. 22nd, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
"American distributor" I could understand -- that term could conceivably cover all of North America. But it specifically says "USA distributors."

SOMEONE was a little lax in the fact-checking department.
Aug. 22nd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
*snicker* They really should have caught that! Like you say "American distributors", but they really should know better than to think Nova Scotia = U.S.A.
Aug. 23rd, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
I think I shall forgive them, as the shoes are rumored to be top quality. Geography, schmeography.
Aug. 23rd, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
Yah, especially Nova Scotia. Y'know, New Scotland. You'd think they'd want to keep track of where their distant relatives went.

Aug. 22nd, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
If anyone should have caught that it's the Nova Scotia distributor.

Now, thinking we're part of the UK - that's far too common and completely unforgiveable ;-)
Aug. 23rd, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
Isn't there a little snidget of Ireland that is part of the UK? Or is that done and over with now?
Aug. 23rd, 2007 06:48 am (UTC)
Oh yes, waaaay up north. Completely different country ;-)
Aug. 23rd, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
Ah. I see. We Do Not Talk About Where Aunt Sally Went, that sort of thing?
Aug. 23rd, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
Icon love, Pony! But then, there are so many good quotes from "The Princess Bride."

Hope the shoes turn out to be as nice and durable as your old pair.
Aug. 23rd, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
I also have this Princess Bride icon! They're both from
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I also have this Princess Bride icon! They're both from <lj-user="poisoninjest">.

I have high hopes for these shoes. Everyone says that these are the best ghillies around. I'm also going to get them with special high-tech insoles, on the theory that bouncy dancing+wooden floors+a desire to avoid knee injuries=worth the extra money for the insoles.
Aug. 25th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
*Snort!!* Yeah, I bet the people living in Nova Scotia would be pissed off at that more than anyone else. 'Cause you know, Mexico and Canada love it when people refer to North America or America and they are really referring to the US specifically.
Aug. 25th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
And here they say USA and are referring to North America generally. Ah, well. It's nice to know that we in the U.S. aren't the only ones guilty of this sort of thing.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )