At the End of the Day


Approaching winter is a potential comedy of errors. We embrace it, but at times it can bite us. The Slog investigates.



In the winter, an old man’s fancy turns to thicker duvets, flickering fires, robust red wines, good books, and bedsocks.

Yes, bedsocks. There is something uniquely passion-killing about a bloke sporting socks without his trousers on. As a young blade, I remember well that – while girlies in those days wanted the light off at first for reasons of shyness – I wanted pitch black darkness in order to ensure that not even God would know what I looked like in socks and underpants mode. If the tryst was taking place in the daylight, then the socks had to come off before the trousers. This often forced me to tug at my feet as if they might be detachable.

But 45 years ago, I cut my communications research teeth on a brand called Horlicks…a beverage known in those days as a ‘bedtime drink’. It was a Beecham brand under the protection of J Walter Thompson (where I worked at the time) and one of the pointy-headed, white coated folk at Beecham  – when I asked him if Horlicks actually was any use as a sleep aid – replied, “Yes, we know that sleep is immediately preceded by a rise in foot temperature….and we have found that both Horlicks and thick socks raise the temperature of one’s feet”.

So it was that I became a fundamentalist fanatic on the subject of bedsocks in winter. It doesn’t drive me to a desire to behead people, but it does work. Both those findings, I would submit, are based on bedsock wearing being a result of empirical enquiry rather than religion or ideology.

I could of course have become a Horlicks addict, but the product tasted so disgusting that only an OCD masochist could’ve achieved such an aim.

So men look silly with bare legs ending in socks. But the obverse of this coinage is that most women with whom I have canoodled to the stage of two-backs beastliness have staggeringly cold feet.

The French call a fridge the frigo, but a freezer the congulateur. There is an obvious Norman French derivation here, in that most of my conjugal activities have been followed by female feet – later on in the wee small hours – bearing all the hallmarks of having been in the congulateur for several hours.

The deliciously tender period ‘afterwards’ – so often referred to as “the afterglow” – is both emotionally and physically accurate, up to but not including the woman’s feet. That part of the experience, within the hour, becomes a suspicion that one might be sharing the bed with a dead person.

Now I know that the Sisters of NoMercy may well be about to descend upon The Slog with disgraceful allegations of misogyny, to which my only answer is Harken Unto Google. For there, fully 273,000 results all say the same thing, viz:


So there you are. And by the way, Horlicks usage was biased 3:1 in favour of women.

But if that doesn’t scatter the madder end of feminism to the four cold winds, here’s another exclusive revelation: over the last few years, my fingers have started turning white whenever the temperature falls below 12°C. Perhaps this means that I am at last getting in touch with my feminine side.

Tramline thinkers such as George Bush, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Hillary Clinton would say that the answer is – without question – to start wearing bedsocks on my hands. The largest of many problems with this analysis is that wearing even very thick gloves offers minimal relief from the condition. Another is that walking about with bedsocks on your hands might, in these sensitive times, mark me out as a seriously dangerous germ-obsessive sexual pervert. Or even worse, a human Muppet.

Dew-soaked mornings and the falling of leaves, the coming of yellow colours, the darkening of afternoons, clear washed-out skies and cold extremities all recommend the idea of hibernation to me. And these days, most of the “news” has the same effect.

Winter – and it hasn’t arrived yet – is a strange time down here in that not many folk are about, and those that are suggest – by their outdoor presence – that they’re being radical contrarians: it’s cold for Chrissakes, get in front of the fire. But equally, you’re out there with them, so what do you know? We all of us have within us the wiring that makes us communal beings.

However, just about everything about 21st century life – violence after dark, economic selfishness, 24/7 braindead TV, abrogation by government of social responsibility, corrupt top-down legislation, self-obsession internet devices, insouciant élites, the sense of shouting at the deaf and the marginalisation of Truth – combines to make us wish for little more than a dive under the duvet, and the ability to burrow into a deep bedsock.

Perhaps this metaphorical isolation will be enough to make Homo sapiens evolve into something new. But if it does, don’t assume it’s going to be an improvement: we might well emerge as Homo Talpacus – the human mole.