Sunday, 3 April 2016

On Socks and Solitude.

I made two new friends today, a Shetland pony and an American Quarter horse. They were both inveterate softies who were more than happy to have lots of nuzzle stroking, cheek patting and one-way conversation (and scratchy heads in the case of the Shetland because Shetlands have very hairy heads which just beg to be scratched.) They got a bit ratty with one another at one point and there was lots of stamping and squealing while I stepped back a few inches to allow them space to express themselves. Maybe they were jealous or something, but they soon gave up the spat and came back for more divided attention.

So then tonight I was sitting alone by the fireside, darning a sock that has an inconvenient predilection for springing leaks at the toe end, when I thought how strange all this is. It’s odd that a chap of extended awareness and some slight erudition should spend approximately 99% of his time alone, occasionally holding one-way conversations with hairy equines rather than the two-way variety with relatively hairless homo sapiens. I suppose it must be because hairy equines and other animals find my company more convivial than homos do. I am, after all, not the kind of person to whom invitations to tea are habitually extended.

The thought of being invited to tea was the point at which I became concerned. I’m still raiding my late mother’s sewing box for darning wool, you see, and the only colours in there are dark blue and brown, whereas the offending sock is charcoal grey. Neither wool was suitable if you’re going to be prissy about it, but I decided that brown was probably the lesser of the two evils. But then I had a terrible thought: suppose someone should break ranks and invite me to tea, and suppose they should ask me to take my shoes off. They do, you know, some people. I knew a woman once who invited me to dinner on the recommendation of her deluded daughter. She asked me to take my shoes off because the whole of her house was carpeted in white. That’s even dafter than darning charcoal grey socks with brown wool, so it wouldn’t have mattered in that case. But wouldn’t you just know it? My socks were in pristine condition. Damn. But anyway…

Being invited to tea isn’t very likely. There are a few people in these parts who seem to quite like talking to me, but only as long as we’re on neutral ground so they’re able to run away when my oddness becomes unbearable. Running away is more socially acceptable, don’t you know, than asking a tea guest to leave because he is unbearably strange and demonstrates the fact by wearing charcoal grey socks darned with brown wool. (I used to hope that the Lady B’s mama would invite me to tea because she’s sort of sophisticated like that and lives in a big house, but it never happened. Maybe her daughter wasn’t deluded enough to recommend me. And what would I have done for socks? It’s fortunate that I know my place and accept it with resigned equanimity.)

So where was I? Oh yes, darning socks with the wrong coloured wool and talking to horses. My life in a nutshell.

A Shetland pony that isn't the one I was talking to
and the sort of person who never invites me to tea.  

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