As with most people in cool climates, I like my feet to be warm in winter.
Ever since visiting Holland some years ago and discovering socks, called SKI Socks Extra Soft, my feet have been as warm as toast throughout the cold months.
Being woven in a soft, wooly kind of way, made for skiing and not daily walking, they are inclined, after a while, to get thin at heel and holey at toe – two pairs (darned a bit) surviving one winter.
Discovering in early springtime that I was now almost out of these miracle socks (sort of stockings, really) and finding my last two pairs to be near the end of their days, with next winter’s warmth in mind, I wrote to my sister-in-law, Henny, who lives on the Dutch/German border, asking if she would kindly look in at a Hema store to see if there were any left in my size.
Her husband, Bert, found that none were available, so contacted the manager of the shop, who very kindly telephoned the supplier (United Sox of the People’s Republic of China – with the slogan “We Knit for Europe”) to assess the position. Having obtained the number in China, the telephone was handed over to my brother-in-law.
The English/Chinese spoken from so far away was somewhat difficult for him to understand, but the gist was clear.
These particular socks were bought by some of their most revered Dutch customers, one by the name of Pates Lobbels (which, funnily enough, sounded a bit like my name) and also an Honellable Clown Plince, who used them the year round at his lodge in the Alps during the European winter and the mountains of Patagonia in summer (their winter).
Unfortunately, annual production ceased on Chinese New Year’s Day, leaving only four pairs available, as His Loyal Highness the Clown Plince had bought the rest. He was velly solly.
But because we were velly honerlable customers, the cost of these four remaining pairs would be – nil.
This was wonderful news, tempered only by me noticing that the date of my brother-in-law’s email was the 1st of April.