Posted in Family, Personal life, Writing

The History of My Husband in 100 Socks

My column for the October issue of the Tetbury Advertiser goes from the sublime to the ridiculous

… and also inside this issue is my regular monthly column

During a rare and much-needed tidying blitz on our house, I fall to musing on the current fashion for summing up a topic by listing 100 of something in a particular category. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, kicked it all off with his fascinating BBC Radio 4 series, The History of the World in 100 Objects. His list of iconic items, from a Stone Age spear point to the solar powered lamp, captured the public’s imagination.

Its success sparked many equally fascinating copycat series. I’ve just downloaded podcasts of The Story of Music in 50 Pieces (lazy), and the Bath Fashion Museum shares The History of Fashion in 100 Objects on its website here.

Sock It To Me

The inevitable book of the radio series

Turning out my husband’s wardrobe, it occurs to me that I could write his life story in the history of his socks, all of which seem to need pairing. Piled on the floor before me are at least 100, some so ancient that carbon dating would not go amiss to ensure the accuracy of my proposed catalogue.

To get an easy tick – and to stop me losing the will to live before the task is complete – I marry up the obvious matches first, such as the scarlet pair to be worn with his kilt. (He’s not eccentric he’s just Scottish.) I then sit quaking as the enormity of the remaining task dawns on me.

Sock Swap

Meanwhile next door in our daughter’s bedroom, where she is tasked with tidying up, all is quiet. On enquiry, I learn that she is “taking a rest” about five minutes after starting, as discouraged as I am. “I’d much rather do what you’re doing,” she hints, and I’m quick to agree to swap.

By the time my husband’s socks are paired and restored to his sock drawer, my daughter’s bedroom is immaculate. She’s also richer by nearly £14 from the notes and coins I found languishing forgotten beneath the dust and toys. She welcomes less enthusiastically the chocolate butterfly that was best before July 2014.

Each of us is happy that our goals have been met, without having to do the donkey work we dreaded ourselves.

Sock Tension

But where is my husband all this time, I hear you ask, and why was he not pairing his own socks? Surely neither my daughter nor I should be doing his wardrobe maintenance chores in this liberated age for?

Hold fire before you condemn him: he is spending all day out of door, tiling the roof of our new extension. As someone with the head for heights of Humpty Dumpty (though thankfully not quite the waistline), I’m happy to suppress my natural feminist leanings when it suits me. After all, one man socks are another man’s poison.

PS I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think to take photos of the work-in-progress in either bedroom, but you may well thank me for that! Here instead is an image of Action Man in progress, in matching socks, on the extension roof outside my study window. 

Gordon on the roof, seen through my study window
What looks like a giant banana is apparently a special tool for working lead. Of course. He has a set of six, all in subtly different shapes. Thankfully, not nearly so numerous as his socks. Yet.


If you’d like to read the archive of my Tetbury Advertiser columns from 2010-2015, they’re now available in paperback or as an ebook from all good retailers. (If it’s not in stock, a good bookshop will be able to order it in if you provide the ISBN: 978-1911223030.

To read other posts about tidying up (which I seem to spend half my life doing, despite being VERY TIDY myself), try these…

… plus this one about how to keep the inside of your computer tidy:

… and finally, one about tidying especially for my fellow writers:


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

One thought on “The History of My Husband in 100 Socks

  1. Love this post. “He’s not eccentric he’s just Scottish.” — the best. Thanks for the laugh, Debbie. Oh, and I undertake similar chores with my mum’s socks in the nursing home. The added challenge there is that they go out to the community laundry and only sometimes come back!

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