132 Odd Socks by Helen Fielden

She gazes in a kind of mystical awe at the myriad of socks laid out over the king size bed. Ankle socks, trainer socks, walking socks, Christmas socks, poodle socks (remember those?), long socks, posh socks, socks with holes in, even a special ballet sock. The most extraordinary feature of this collection is the fact that not one, not even the limited edition sock that has a personalized image of Gareth Bale printed on it, is a match.

In the school staff room, she recounts this discovery to the amusement (mainly) of her colleagues. One is, however, looking genuinely puzzled. “How?” the neat, tidy and super organized teacher asks in bewilderment, “How does that happen?”

“How does it not happen?” replies the Sock Queen. “How, how does anyone keep socks in pairs?”

Super organized teacher suggests gently that Sock Queen pairs the socks before they go in the washing machine.

“I’ll try,” promises Sock Queen as the bell goes to mark end of break. She leaves the staff room, now littered with half-drunk coffee cups and dripping teaspoons. She returns to her classroom and instantly forgets about the 132 odd socks as she greets Ryan, one of her favourite ‘naughty boys’, who, rather unusually, is waiting by the door.

Back in the bedroom, the socks still lie, decadently dozing on the bed. They stir ever so slightly, open the occasional eye and then return to their slumber. “Put us back in our old carrier bag,” they seem to murmur, “back in the bottom of the dusty wardrobe, you just never know when you might find our pairs….”

After school that day, Sock Queen debates the fate of the 132 odd socks. Charity shop, recycling, rubbish bin? None of these options seem appealing. Swiftly, without further deliberation, she gathers them up and shoves them back in the carrier bag. They look up at her gratefully. Happily, they sink a little further down into their fusty home. She quickly pops them back in the wardrobe.

The following day, Sock Queen, now with Teacher hat on, surveys her rowdy Year 11, Set 4 History class.

“Miss, Miss,” yells Ryan from the back of the room. “Are we watching a film today?”

“Since when did we ever start a lesson with a film Ryan? And why are you sitting there? I don’t recall that seat being part of the seating plan.”

“Aw Miss, I’ll be good today, honest.”

“That would, indeed, be a first. I suggest you move now and, while you’re at it, put that phone away. Hopeless hiding skills there Ryan.” 

Ryan grins. Knowing he’s been found out, he reluctantly heaves himself out of his seat and very, very slowly wanders back to the allocated place. ‘Miss’ observes this sojourn with a wry smile. But wait… her stomach gives an unexpected lurch as her eye catches sight of something quite extraordinary. Ryan is wearing odd socks, and on one, there is a very distinctive, personalized image of Gareth Bale.

by Helen Fielding


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