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When the alarm comes on the ship’s loud speaker system ordering sailors to man the pumps, you know you’re in trouble.

Second only to an uncontrolled fire, this is what professional seamen fear the most. The most infamous example of a ship taking in water must surely be the Titanic.

Pumps usually conjures up an electric device that sucks up water or other liquid. But there is another use of the word and that is a range of casual slip-on shoes.

They mostly look like a slightly upmarket espadrille or moccasin. And are best for summer months and all year around in the home. A friend working in a City financial institution office, is obliged to arrive at work in very formal court shoes.

But once she’s at her desk and invisible to any visitors, she slips on her comfortable pumps that otherwise spend their time locked in her bottom drawer.

There’s a brand called Toms pumps and that’s a bit weird for anyone with the name Tom. If you go online and look at the range of these particular ones, you’ll get a good idea of what the classic pump should look like.

Most of us have the common sense to recognise the type of footwear to match our clothing. In a city business suit, it’s common to wear polished black leather lace-ups for men and women have a slightly more flexible choice.

And on a beach holiday it would be more likely that espadrilles or flip-flops are the norm. Pumps fall somewhere in between those two extremes.

If you didn’t know that the brand Tom exists for pumps, you’d be forgiven for thinking that if a colleague asked whether you had seen Tom’s pumps, they would be looking for a pair worn by Tom at the photocopier.

It’s a catchy brand name but it fairly rules out any chance of launching a Bill’s pump or a Peter pump.

Can you have too many shoes in the wardrobe? Well, according to my wife, every new outfit requires new shoes and handbag.

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