I’ve just been reading this weird magazine about people who play instruments with their feet. If this publication is anything to go by, it’s a whole thing, and people are really serious about it. It seems to be centred around Irish and Americana-type folk music – lots of banjos and fiddles and even the odd tin whistle. 

It’s not what I was expecting from the magazine’s title (Fancy Footwork), I’ll tell you that much. I was thinking competitive ballroom dancing, or perhaps the latest buzz in the podiatry profession. It was, after all, in the waiting room at the podiatrists. Local to Cheltenham though I am, I’m a citizen of the world at heart, so I suppose I was just surprised I’d never heard of this. 

I did get quite absorbed in the cover story, which was an interview with some called Mary Widdlestein. Evidently, the Mary Widdlestein Trio is a big deal in certain circles, Mary herself being considered the ‘godmother’ of the whole playing-instruments-with-your-feet shenanigan. She had quite a lot to say about foot health, and even mentioned the new PACT treatment for nail fungus, which is actually what I was at the podiatrist for.

I was quite taken with her reflections on career longevity – I think her 93 years have afforded her a rare kind of wisdom on the subject of what makes a worthwhile career, and I feel her passion for ‘toe-picking’ on the banjo really shines through. Maybe I’m even a fan now, dare I say it. While I was having my toenails treated, I found myself wondering aloud if I’d ever have an opportunity to see her play.

The podiatrist nodded sympathetically. It turned out that he’s a die-hard fan, and he said he’d email me the registration info for her upcoming online masterclasses via the Folk’n Feet Festival. I guess you learn something new every day.