Monday, December 22, 2003
No Socks Please
Socks never held much appeal for me. Socks make my feet hot and smelly, and most pairs survive only three or four washings before my big toe pokes through them anyway. Most of the time, I pad around my flat barefoot, and rarely pull them on with my gym-shoes. I do wear them in the street and for work, however, mainly because, if I didn't in this weather, all my toes, and not just the big one, would fall off; or, what's even worse, people would have me down as some sad grizzled reject from an old Miami Vice episode. Even I do not do that particular piece of retro-chic anymore. Once was more than enough, thank you very much.
I last bought myself a pair of socks in the mid-eighties. They were a pair of pale-blue designer jobbies, specially purchased to complement the pastel loafers and striped flannels I then used to swank around in. (This was my Summer of Whimsy, my dears, when I still thought the Brideshead look was a good idea.) Designer or not, within a week, Big Toe had made another of his valiant stabs for freedom, and they ended up with holes in them too, just like the cheapo packs of six I used to buy from C&A.
Lest you think I've been wearing the same pale-blues for the past twenty years, rest assured that I do have a reliably constant source of fresh pairs. Every December spent at the maternal home invariably sees me returning with Morrisons carrier-bags stuffed full of the socks Ma Stranger's bought over the past twelve months.
The number of pairs she gives me is normally determined by some mysterious calculation involving the total years I've lived away from home, subtracted from my actual age, and then multiplied by all the occasions I've broken her heart. So I usually start each new year with the pairs I own hitting triple figures, and, whenever Mister Big Toe pops through again, I simply chuck them away, never bothering to repair them.
This year, my mum hasn't been mobile enough to do much shopping, so I've just returned from a long weekend Up North socks-starved, with but three new pairs to get me through this coming year, rather than last December's record top-up of forty-seven pairs. With the once-ubiquitous Sock Shops now reduced in numbers to a mere handful, and my refusal to even consider crossing the threshold of Marks & Sparks until mid-February, as well as an understandable reluctance to chop off my offending big toe, it looks as though I'm going to have to go barefoot till then. Either that, or finally learn how to darn a pair of socks. . .