Come Valentine's day, we know it’s time to put the fiscal into getting physical.
Just as well, then, that we've compiled the most comprehensive guide to playing Footsie with your date. Ever.
A hundred tips which cover everything you could ever wish to know - and more - about getting your footsie on, from venue, to kit, to precautions, to technique, to socks, to everything in between.
And yes, yes it is titled The Footsie 100.
Deep breath now...
Footsie is sexy. It's always been sexy. And the best Footsie-artistes know - get your Footsie right and forget the standing order. So tip no. 1 is take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the finer points of this most ancient of arts.
Nail your Footsie this Valentine's Day you might just get to show your date that Nasdaq of yours.
Or even get in their Nikkeis.
But enough thinly-veiled finance-themed single-entendre: it's time to start earning some interest here (sorry).
So. Start by identifying a partner.
Ideally, identifying a willing partner.
Check for said willing partner's legs and feet. A pair of each is preferable, though not essential'
Note: If their foot is in a cast, you’re wasting your time.
Oh, and ensure they have a pulse. Sorry table, chair or piano stool: sure, you’re great to practice on, and wood’s great and all, but you just ain’t the real thing.
If you are going to practice, do look out for splinters.
And do do it in private.
You should, really, be on a date with said partner where you are both sat opposite one another.
Ideally, you should be sat still.
If you’re on a date where you’re walking, running or playing tennis, Footsie ain't the answer.
And definitely not if you, or your partner, is driving. Definitely not that.
So ideally you're at a restaurant, or a bar, with a nice solid table to provide those feet of yours some air cover.
Now, first up, slip off your shoes. Fine though your carefully selected brogues, chelsea boots or steel-capped winkelpickers are, soft to the touch they're not.
First-timers take note: you’d do well to select a shoe that slides off easily. Conspicuously untying your laces? Not a great look.
Other precautionary measures: avoid playing footsie directly post bath – unless you want them to feel like they’re dating their grandad.
If you’re feeling nervous and are worried about getting a bit of a sweat on down there, just remember: it’s good to talc.
And, most critically of all, go to that sock-drawer of yours and pull out your finest pair. You’ll be keeping these on. (Because naked, hairy feet? Not attractive. Unless you're Frodo Baggins. In which case, a warm welcome to you, Frodo, nice to see you. Stupendous work with that ring).
And make sure they’re a freshly laundered, clean pair of socks.
On Laundry, Part I. When it comes to that laundry, for the ideal sock-finish wash your pair of choice at thirty degrees - better for the socks' colours AND better for the environment.
On Laundry, Part II. Once washed, unless you're in rather a hurry / in danger of standing your date up, dry the socks au naturale rather than tumbling drying. Again, better for the socks AND the planet.
On Laundry, Part III. Finally, for the ultimate in laundered socks, once the pair is between ninety and ninety-five per-cent dry, iron softly on a low-heat. This will eliminate any minor bobbles and ensure a fine, even finish, fresh for your ankles.
Now, alternatively, you could just wear a brand new, fresh-out -the box pair of socks (we can help with this).
The thinner the sock, the more sensual the pleasure. So avoid thick walking socks for that special occasion.
And for the ultimate footsie kit, select a pair of socks which feature smooth hand-linked toe-seams. 99 problems you may have, but the stitch ain't one.
Ensure toenails are tidy and trim. Leave the Itchy & Scratchy show to Matt Groening and friends.
Actually, they may well be into a bit of that, but this isn’t the time just yet.
And it almost certainly isn’t the place.
If you’re really look to go pro, go get a pedicure first. Seriously. They're unreal.
And if you're not up for going all out with the pedicure, you can still soften and enliven your feet at home by soaking them in aspirin. For real.
And once you've done that - and let's face it, you will - awaken all of the nerve endings on your soles by rolling a tennis ball under each of your feet.
So you're prepped and ready to go. Remember: rule number one of footsie club? Don’t talk about footsie club. What happens under the table stays under the table
Pick your moment, and pick it carefully. Timing is everything.
Don’t go too soon in the date. Bit creepy.
So make a little conversation first.
Common ice-breakers include introducing yourself.
Asking your date to introduce themselves.
Discussing what to eat.
Debating what to drink.
Trying to count how many other people here are on Tinder dates.
Working out whether the waiter is actually flirting with you a little bit.
Or your partner.
Or both of you.
Note: if in the UK, do not discuss politics, money or religion.
If elsewhere: fair game.
Equally, don’t take that eye of yours off the prize.
Don’t go too late, or once you’ve both got up from the table.
If you do, then it will just look like you’ve forgotten to put both of your shoes on and are, weirdly, openly kicking them in public.
So, start by asking a question that demands a mildly discursive response from your date.
And just as they're getting into the flow of their answer, make that move.
Now whatever happens next, keep that face of yours poker straight: stealth and nonchalance are King and Queen in the game of Footsie.
So get stealth.
No, stealthier. We're talking as stealthy as James Bond making his way across a lake to a villain's island-lair disguised as a crocodile. Which obviously no-one would ever clock.
And get nonchalant.
No, no. Nonchalent-er still. Think Danny Zuko upon his surprise reunion with Sandy for the first time at Rydell High, complete with T-Bird entourage, half-smoked hands-free Marlborough Red and impeccable barnet. Just leave out the singing, OK?
Now, if it goes badly and they don't play (foot) ball, do not panic.
You, my man, can style it out. Some old school diversion is your friend here.
’What was that?' you ask. 'A cat! Hey, waiter, there's a cat in here! I saw it! And she felt it! It was big. Maybe even an onyx! Bloody hell. I need a drink. Would you be so kind?’
See? Styled. Out.
But remember: 'no' means 'no'. And if you've agreed a safeword, so does 'banana'.
If, however, they are game, then continue to play it cool.
Only offer up your feet and legs sporadically. Yes, that does sounds weird.
Do not just put it on a plate. That’s the waiter’s job. Honk!
And obviously keep feet off the table. Not OK.
Eye contact is good. It’s assertive without being aggressive.
But lip-biting is probably a bit much. Save that for later.
Still with us? Bravo.
Now, enough footsie foreplay. Let's get technical. Pen and paper at the ready.
To avoid injury, warm up your ankles by rotating your feet in an anti-clockwise motion.
Then a clockwise motion.
OK. We're all set. Let’s talk technique.
As we do, think about targeting key pressure points on their feet to keep your partner as engaged as possible.
And further up the leg, bear in mind that the calf has more sensory points on the inside - so focus your attention on that area
But show some restraint and don’t venture higher than mid-calf (at least not on your first date).
We'll start with some simple beginner moves. Firstly, use your big to to trace a simple circle on the top of your partner's foot. There you go. Easy.
Next up go small - locate your partner's little toe and give it a little stroke with yours. Each toe on the foot has the same number of bones, so there's just as much sensitivity in the little guy at the end.
Seeing as your getting dexterous, start experimenting with other individual toes, both on your feet and theirs.
Now that we've graduated onto Intermediate Footsie, it's time to get a bit more creative. First off - think about your favourite emoji. Maybe it's a simple smiley. Maybe it's the aubergine. Maybe it's one of those weird symbols that you skip over while getting to the flags. No matter. Select one and use your big toe as a paintbrush to recreate it on your partner's ankle. At the very least it'll be guaranteed to raise a :-O
Time to bring the heel into play: do so by wrapping your leg around theirs so that your heels are touching (bear in mind you're working with a bigger surface area here so apply a little less pressure than you might with just a toe). Heel yes.
OK. It's time to prove yourself as an adancved Footsie Black Belt. Do so by going to sole-to-sole with your partners foot. We won't tell you how, because if you can work it out, you'll know you're ready for...
Next level Footsie. Welcome - it's the ultimate Footsie playbook. Enjoy the view, and get ready for your footgame to take off.
The Windscreen Wiper. A timeless Footsie technique. Plant your heel and, using that as your fulcrum, pivot the foot from side to side, wiping across your companion's foot.
Kara-toe-ke. This is the one which sees you tap out a romantic song using your toes on their foot. This will tune your two bodies into one intimate rythmic union.
You might want to start with something sweet and rhythmically simple - The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love, perhaps.
As your set takes shape, think about pushing yourself further. The extended album version of Meatloaf’s Anything For Love is a tried-and-tested favourite.
The Jenga. Here, you'll try stacking your feet above/below your partners in a race to the top. Just try not to collapse after a few minutes.
The Pedalo. More sole-to-sole action. This time, lock both feet against your partners' and slowly cycle them back-and-forth (as this technique engages the entire leg, best not to try enless you've sufficient headroom underneath the table).
The Man from ANKLE. Pointy though it may be, you can deploy your ankle to great effect under the table. Do so by engaging your ankle with your partners - use the point of your ankle to run 'laps' around theirs.
Up Periscope. We return to the calf with this one. Start by planting your heel to the floor and pointing your toes to the sky. Then use all five toes to start pulling your foot, little by little, up the height of your partners leg. Again, no further than the top of the calf on Date One!
Sexual Heeling. Time to get just a little more assertive. Grab your partner's heel with the inside of your feet and get massaging. Bound to get them hot - just like your oven.
A Game of Two Calves. Sit forward and wrap your leg around the back of your partner's, pressing the back of your calf onto the back of theirs. Now flex your leg up and down, slowly, by raising your heel from the ground. Note: will not work if you are wearing PVC or leather trousers (although if that's the case, this is probably the least of your worries).
The DJ Ties-toe. Your foot is a world renowned DJ. Your partner’s feet are its turntables. Place your big toe on top of your partner’s foot, imagine you’re playing in front of one hundred thousand charged-up Dutchmen, clad in white, cloggs a-bouncing, electronic sax a-pumping. And it’s time for you to scratch away, Mr Deejay. Scr-cr-cr-cratch away.
Now if you've made it this far, and your partner is still with you, take it from us - you are onto a good thing.
And if your partner is up for returning the favour, go ahead and receive graciously.
Because always remember, your feet, your legs are instruments. Instruments of love.
Open them up and enjoy that sweet, sweet music as it's played upon them and there's still life in the evening.
And, when it's all over, there’s only one way to end proceedings. Get down on that knee of yours, take a deep breath and do the honourable thing: pop that shoe back on, tie up those shoelaces, and put away those footsies of yours for another day.
And that, gentlemen, is that. Now go forth, frolic and Footsie like you've never Footsied before. Here's to you, and here's to your feet.