Contrary to popular belief I actually quite enjoy travelling by train, as long as I have a seat and it runs on time. I found my seat with plenty of time before departure, set my coffee down on the little drop-down table and unpacked my bag.
The contents of my bag are always the same. A couple of books, the latest copy of The Spectator, enough old receipts to make a papier-mâché fortress and my trusty notepad. I carry that notepad everywhere, scribbling in it frantically the moment blogging material presents itself.
The train rapidly filled up and by the time it left London it was packed. My gaze wandered lazily round the carriage, taking in my fellow passengers. Ah yes, the usual black fedora. There is ALWAYS a dubious chap in a black fedora. In every pub, at every bus stop, in every train. Does he think he's in Capone's Chicago? I'm getting paranoid, he's probably following me.
Something caught my attention. A stripy orange sock lay in the aisle halfway down the carriage. Solitary, lonely and very, very orange. You have to be a real twit to lose a sock. A total klutz. Especially a sock like that, a sock that offends the fashion conscious, a sock that no sane person would ever own, the type of sock that only a complete loser would wear. Only an absolute giraffe would go outside wearing something like that. Conceivably it could have been dropped by a mole. But what would a mole be doing on the 18:30 from London Euston?
And then it dawned on me. It was MY sock. One half of my favourite pair. It must have been travelling in my trouser leg, waiting for the perfect moment to drop out.
A stronger, prouder man would have let it go, sacrificed the sock in order to save face. I couldn't do that, I HAD to retrieve it. I hatched a plan so cunning that, had they heard about it, all the foxes and weasels in the world would have worshiped me as the god of cunning.
I walked down the aisle past the sock and "went to the toilet". I stood in the toilet cubicle for what I deemed to be an appropriate length of time, during which I untied my shoe, then strolled nonchalantly back up the carriage.
Reaching the sock I stooped down to tie my shoe, scooping up the sock and hiding it in my hand with the subtlest of movements. The god of cunning was at work. I rose and headed back to my seat, the master of the known universe, the most brilliant strategist since Alexander The Great. I had got away with it.
As I walked up the carriage a lady caught my eye. "Nice sock," she said.