Why was Da Vinci wearing only one sock?

The Odd Sock Mystery and the Secret of the Universe

with some claim to be a best-smeller


More footage in a well-trodden genre

"Only one sock!" cried Honoria, as the dangling corpse swung at her, with five toes curled up. Before she could shoot anyone, ten little men in ambush leaped up to steal the remaining threads, and all but one disappeared into an undarned hole.
"Quick!" he gasped, "We have only 555 pages to unravel the Secret of the Universe. I called you as the world expert in crochet at Bush University. Unless we find that missing sock, everyone who loses a sock will be unlegged!" Honoria guessed he must also know her expertise in grasping and leaping in and out of purloined vehicles, but little did she foresee their discovery that the still undeciphered scrolls and stele in the Middle East were actually knitting patterns, lost as the climate changed to become unfriendly to woolly socks. "Quick, let us leap into a purloined vehicle,' cried Pod.
They dashed out of the Viaticum, the corpse trailing behind them , hooked by its remaining sock. Honoria tried to push it off, and the message 'US-FTA' unravelled before their eyes. "Whatever can that mean?"

Pedo Loseur crinkled his matching grey eyes as he looked first at the corpse, and then at the calling card that had brought him to the Trades Room of the Museum of Modern Arts. The corpse lay with its toes turned up. In its last agony it had unravelled one of its socks and scraps of clues lay everywhere like little woolly caterpillars. But something was missing, something was wrong. The calling card had said 'Come and find the secret of the universe.' But before he had found it, Pedo was attacked from behind, bundled up, and loaded into a removal van.

Also tied up in the van was a beautiful woman. She too was looking for the secret of the universe. Fear filled her beautiful eyes fringed with eyelashes. As the van drove at top speed through all the red lights, "I am Holly Hop," she said, "and if you look in my handbag you will find a secret invoice."

Pedo was no wiser. A number on the invoice said 24.12.2004, and below was a coded message. "Gross socks @ ten euros." "What's wrong with that?" he whispered. "It sounds a bargain." "Those socks are really gross," Holly whispered back as they veered round a roundabout. "Did you notice that the corpse had only five toes turned up? The other foot had one sock on it. If we find the missing sock, we may find the Secret of the Universe." "But that is what I was looking for," cried Pedo in pain as the van crashed at a safety barrier and they all tipped out.

Holly leaped on a passing motor-cycle, pulling Loseur on to the pillion behind her. The motor-cyclist conveniently disappeared, as usually happened when Holly hijacked a vehicle. She rode the cycle at top speed going through all the red lights until it stopped at an emporium. They threw themselves below a large notice, 'Caveat Empor' and rushed in to the Hosiery Department. It was full of socks, neatly paired. "We must find the one odd sock," cried Holly, "before the Sockeater devours it!" But before they could find anything, a railway trolley careered down the aisle and the two were bundled on by a mysterious force.

It careered down an escalator towards a bargain basement. As they whizzed down, Pedo confided to her what he knew about the mystery of the Odd Sock, and how the search for the missing sock ravels its threads thruout all history.

It hops up in many ancient cultures as strange pedic symbols, from the Hoplites of ancient Sparta and the ancient Israelites in the marshes of Goloshen, the Asian hordes from the Steps, resisted toe to toe by the even wilder Cossocks, the footloose Sandals and the anomalous Boths who never put a foot wrong, with moths in their socks.

If Ned Kelly had stuffed his helmet with socks it would not have got dented. But his problem, it has been found, was that he was actually a musical blacksmith, not a bushranger, and wanted to get resonance within his metal casing, and only had one sock to protect his ears.

At the bottom of the escalator the searchers into the Universe were swept into an electrified garbage trolley by the Mad SleuthKiller, an appalling figure who wore his socks round his neck in the vain hope of not losing them. As the trolley zoomed towards the nearest airport, via the frightful underground tombs beneath Parliament House full of old Hansards, the secret records of a democratic secret society, the escapees observed that almost all the other contents of the bin were odd socks, mostly with tartan patterns. Holly's treacle-colored lash-fringed eyes filled with fear.

"We are not really going to the airport! I have a map that shows that these socks are used to start new islands in the sea, where coral does not do the job. That is why they are called islands, standing for 1-Sock-lands. Lost Atlantis was really one great big Lost Sock, as its name shows - At-Lant-1-Sock. - at the Land of One Sock.. Every time a sock goes missing, somewhere a little island is born."

Sure enough, the bin was tipped off a jetty at Tullamarine, which is more of a marina than an airport, and the Mad Sleuth-Killer began shooting holes in all the socks as they fell. Holly and Pedo saved themselves by jumping into a passing submarine. "Why were all those socks different patterns?" mused Pedo, "Surely that is a clue to the Universe."

"You are right," hissed a mysterious voice from behind a binnacle. 'The comon folk believe that it is wily sock manufacturers who ensure that no pairs of socks are the same, so that when one sock is lost, its mate is useless and more socks must be bought. The common folk also believe in Possums that take the odd socks for their nests, but that is not true either."

"But there is a good deal of evidence for the Possums," argued Pedo, "In darkest Australia there is a manuscript called the Magic Pudding, which is a code for Magic Socks, and in it there are revelations about Possum sock-thieves, and a Bandycoot which was odd-socked . . These Sock-snatchers . ." "But if it is Possums, then why are so many odd socks found in ponds and gutters? Surely the Master of Ormond College must be correct in asserting that little men come over from Ireland to collect odd socks wherever there are students who actually wear socks."

"There is the Robotic Washing-Machine theory too, you know, yet never a sock is found when the machines are dissected." "That is because the Robot eats the socks, to save on electricity." "Like the theory of devouring cupboards and carpet underlays that turn socks into food for &endash; but who has seen a silverfish eating pre-masticated socks?"

The submarine had surfaced, and shot Holly and Pedo into space from its missled-sock- launcher. As they whizzed among the satellites, which kept taking pot-shots at them from Kalashnisoks and Legalites, and the Holeproof advertising balloons, they discoursed about the translocation theory - whereby one family can have a drawer full of 81 odd socks and not one will match the 81 odd socks held by another family, because the odd socks have been sucked into trans-variegated Black Holes, and become Holey Socks. "It is becoming clear from this height that Society is based on the Odd Sock. Soc = Sock, 1 = One, and K is a magic quantity from Arabic mathematicians, so in any one society there will be K socks. Indeed odd socks are everywhere, except for the ones that are missing."

More to come

Learned Appendices (Toes, no doubt)

"Way back in history, odd socks were the first holey garments, and carried the message of Love - L is the shape of a foot, O is nothing much, V is two toes turned up, and E are the other three toes. This message is encrypted by the Old Testament prophet Hosea, whose girlfriend left him because he had said 'Darn!' too often.

Necromancers - or mancers or mincers of ankle socks - neck being a code for ankle, prophesied that if an army of footry was defeeted in war, they lost all their socks, not just one each.

The male interpretation of many old pillars and wall carvings as phallic symbols is mistaken - actually they are all pillars for hanging socks on.

Soccage was a tribute that Anglo-Saxons had to pay to medieval football captains, who were called Soccaroos.

Five people hold the secret of the Odd Sock- they are codenamed Piggies, and from Piggy 1 to 5, they in turn represent Economics, Domestics, Consuming, Welfare and Entertainment (listen to any granny playing with a baby to check this out) and they cry 'Oui oui oui oui' all the way home, meaning 'Where is my One Sock?'

The game of soccer began as a source of missing socks.

Once you are aware that the odd sock is a clue to the universe, you can find it is the clue everywhere; but you cannot find the sock.

The Sockinian heresy was about socks.

Ankle-What is a ruined city lost in the jungle together with all its lost socks, which creep and twine over the carvings.

The Sphinx, rather than appear in odd sox, bit off both its own back legs, but still asks the riddle:

Sphinx. 'Tell me, what goes on only one leg!'

Oedipus (who lost a sock early in life)' 'A pair of socks with one missing!'

Sphinx. 'Which sock is that?'

Oedipus. 'The one that's not missing.'

Rightward and Leftward, Socks Sinister and Dexter. It is the Sinister Sock that gets lost. But how do you know which is which? It is confusing. If it was all right, you would assume that it was the Right Sock, but actually it is the Left Sock which is left.

This leads on to which one is the missing sock.

There is the Yin sock and the Yang sock.

The Axsok civilisation had feathered socks."

By the time Loseur had confided all this, in his brusque conspiratorial style, and as they careered around the Arc de Triomphe in whirligigs, he started to notice that Holly's eyes were blue-grey, with a check patterns, and little clocks at the corners. Clocks on Hose,he remembered, are actually Horological symbols. And the Arc de Triomphe is really a monument to a laid-back jazz trumpeter, and is actually not in Paris any more, but has replaced the Yellow Peril which spanned Dight's Falls where Dight once fell. It is strange how only the Loseur has ever noticed this.

The mystery then became more explosive, as now the police of four countries moved in , 'Bang Bang Bang Bang! Bang! Bang!' These bangs can now be distributed around the story according to the reader's preference.

In his last be-holed moments, Loseur gave away more secrets to his sultry monsoon-like companion. Leonardo da Vinci is of course at the bottom of most sock-drawers when it comes to mystery. It is not the Last Supper that his great mural is about, but Last Socks. The Madonna of the Rocks is full of pointing fingers trying to indicate where the socks are. Mona Lisa is a heavily coded acronym for 'Mum, only one sock left!'

Holbein (German for Holey Leg) painted Henry VIII keeping his spare socks inside puffed shoes, to vainly try to keep them safe.

Most real life quests in the world are seeking Lost Socks, and the ending of fairy stories, 'They lived happily ever after' really has the moral to give up looking for lost socks and dont worry any more if socks do not match

What do you think Odysseus was looking for all those 12 years in his Odyssey? Yes, the missing One!

Every soldier carries a spare sock in his knapsock, but to no avail.

In the Arthurian Leg-end there was a Siege Perilous with the message, 'Whoever sits here will get his socks shot off.' The Morte D'Arthur was a result of shocking sox, disguised as a Quest for a Holey Grail &endash; a safe place to keep socks without one disappearing.

Sock it to him, come to heel, pull up your socks &endash; the world of repartee is obsessed with socks. There is a branch of hosiography about it.

Isaac Newton's theory of gravity derived from more than an apple falling - there was also the question of Isaac's socks not staying up.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse was such a sock-loser that most of the time (that is always) he never wore any socks at all.

Mary Magdalene was Mary of Magdala, which being decoded - Mag is gam that is, leg, backwards, and dala backwards reveals the problem of the holey sock that ladders on the leg.

Cinderella lost her sock as well as her slipper.

Soccer was once Soccball. Sock it to him. Being legless means no socks at all.

Any word is deeply suspicious if there is nothing about socks in it.

By now the two questors had comandeered a Hovercraft over the North Pole, and were being pursued by a podabear, which was the Sleuthkiller in disguise. One of Pooh's socks was stuck on the North Pole but the other was missing, presumed lost. Holly and Pedo transferred rapidly to a trapezoid that zoomed across the stratosphere. Below they could see mysterious socklines across South America and somewhere above them were mysterious socklines across Mars. But the craters of the Moon were bulging suspiciously with what might have been caterpillars - or - might they be - ?

Pedo continued explaining the legends - leg-ends - which were now becoming clearly geared to one end - the double-end - of homo soccaroo.

The cry 'Godsocks' is actually 'Oddsocks', and the mysterious brotherhood of Oddfellowsocks holds parties in honor of Goldisocks.

'Look!' cried Holly as they dredged a writhing mass of - not seaweed- from the Sockarassa Sea. 'Here is the evidence!' High up in a basket over the Andes, they unravelled the socks and the last tangle was clear. The world would now change for ever, now the truth was known.

Jesus was not who he said he was. He was someone else called Josh, and he never went near Jerusalem. He lived in Cappodoccia and he never washed his disciples' feet because they all wore socks, every dozen pair of them. The only thing that can be taken as fact is that he established the custom of hanging up odd socks on chimney mantelpieces at Christmas. How else did you think this odd idea of Christmas Socks began?

"Wow!" breathed Holly, as she took out her automatic darner to darn the international police now following them in velocipedes. "This will sure change the world." She jumped into her motorised sock, and got lost, unfortunately.

Pedo leaped into the unknown after her.

The two were alone at last. Two socks, and one of them missing.

This is all too much. Indeed yes, a sock can always go over the top.

All over the world, every now and then, the British Guardian or the New York Times or some more local journal will dig up the Odd Socks Mystery again and have another worry at it.

Weirdly enough, this tiny hole in creation has not become a field for lucrative research in psychology or, surely, parapsychology, with its own Journal of Odd Socks Research. Yet it is more than likely that the Mystery of the Universe will not be solved through some great maths or astronomical achievement, but when psychologists finally understand this one small clue about how the world ticks. Then the rest will unravel. Let the parameters and size of the task be estimated, and the call for research grants go out.

The Odd Socks Mystery is the fact that all over the world, people have drawers-full of odd socks, and the missing socks are never found. Some people are prone to this problem and others are immune. Is it poltergeist selectivity? What battery of tests can be devised?

I had never realised the importance of this Mystery until the baby's bootees started to become singletons. Then the children's socks began to be odd. The problem then expanded until it was my husband's odd socks that were disappearing - even from great thick hiking pairs. It was nearly always one of a nearly new pair that went - once a sock survived to become holy it never left us.

There was a great drawerful of socks by the time we moved house. None had been found inside the washing machine when it was repaired, although we took it thoroughly to pieces. None were found behind cupboards or under carpets when we moved - although for years this had been a naive expectation. Our son Peter's parents-in-law donated us 81 odd socks when they moved to Warrnambool, in the hope these might match some of ours; of course, none did.

Explanations for missing socks

There are as many theories as socks offered by fellow-sufferers. Mary Norton's theory of the Borrowers who live under the floor 'borrowing' items from biros to paperclips will probably be well-known to all of you who have been children. The Master of Ormond College held that there must be a little man who went around his College secretly collecting the students' odd socks. The State Premier was no doubt impressed by this theory, because the Master was later appointed the Governor of Victoria. Some people think the Mystery is a device of sock manufacturers to keep us buying socks, and they point to the fact that retailers make it hard to buy more socks of the same pattern. What would happen to the mystery if socks were sold in threes?

Some people have a Boggle theory- that in fact the old stories about the Little People could have as much basis in history as the dragons had a basis in dinosaurs. Their comings and goings of the Boggles are marked by all sorts of mischief, and only some of it gets attention from the Society for Psychical Research. It is possible that some people have personal Boggles as part of their Jungian Shadow. So this solution could be related to Ethology, or it could be Dynamic and Deep. Or all of them - like the Sellars and Yeatman theory of history that all theories of history are right. If this is the answer, then we could expect the research to be rather riddled by the Boggle's assistance too.


One puzzling clue is the number of odd socks that you see around in gutters and other public places - and come to that, odd shoes, and in ponds, odd boots. How do they get there? I once found a dirty old sock outside our back gate. Out of some impulse, I took and washed it; it was one of George's new birthday pair.

The problem may be worse than it seems. You notice when odd socks go missing - but what about the rest of your minor garments that you do not keep track of? Do they disappear too? You may not notice if there is no remaining partner to remind you, on the line or in the drawer.

Socks never return, and really valuable items like my father's Imperial Stamp Album never do. But other disappearing items can mysteriously return, such as keys, spectacles, scissors, documents, which disappear and then turn up sometimes years later looking as if they had been there all the time.

Some people's lives are so badly permeated by this Mystery Hole that they come to live a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland life. They themselves remain stable, but their worldly goods seem to come and go around them. Ballpoints and coathangers of unknown origin disappear and appear in tides - there are always dozens or none. To stave off madness, the inhabitants develop the strategy of gratefully making use of objects while they are visible, and when they aren't getting on with other things until they turn up again. This can take hours, weeks or years.

In our house, every now and then some curious item, a photograph perhaps, or a school essay, or a medal from my 91-year-old father's past will turn up - on top of a table, or on top of items in a drawer - always some place quite out of my father's ambit. I have never seen it before. No-one still alive has ever seen it.

Research in the mystery

How can the vital and necessary research investigate this mystery? The mysterious outcome of my own research interest in Odd Socks so far was that I was invited by the Koestler Foundation to join a Cambridge College weekend on 'Out of the Body Experiences at the Boundaries of Birth and Death' - although this was not quite what I am getting at - my socks research is more about Off the Body Experiences.

Serious research would require locating volunteers with home contents at every stage of De-visibility. Group A are those who lose nothing except in the ordinary way of losing. Group B share in the Great Sock Mystery, rarely or often. Group C are the badly hit, where anything can go.

Group C people are usually more at risk to this sort of happening, since they tend to be rather absent-minded and property-strewn anyway. I would claim however that this is like being vulnerable to any other outside agency or medical disorder - the virus or burglar or boggle attacks successfully what is most vulnerable to its ravages. Group C would need particular research attention.

Dated records need to be kept of everything as it goes missing, where it should have been, and where/when it turns up. Notice the active voice here - the missing objects are not regarded as static or even passive. They move - they do not have anyone moving them. In some cases, it may be necessary to record all the places that are examined, preferably with a witness, to establish that it was searched well, before the object turns up in a place where it was looked for, truly it was. Because there are many recorded instances of something being there and not being seen - de-visible though not translocated. Only sometimes it is that person's temporary problem of figure-ground discrimination that has allowed the thing to sit there and not be noticed.

Any theory at all can drive this important research. My own theory is that this world is not as stable as we would like to think, and things can fall through the cracks into the well-known Black Holes in the Universe. Black Holes are here too; they are not all safely out there in space. Then as the world spins, some things get spun back again. That is where solving the Mystery of the Universe comes in, for some lucky psychologist.

Find the missing Sock, and you may find the missing Ships of the Bermuda Triangle and more. 'Brother go find your brother' has always been a useful technique to find lost things. Whole civilisations and geological layers and vital evidence and committees of organisations (Morris 1991) have gone missing at times.

The only trouble with the proposed research is that the records will go missing. Not passively. Actively.

And see Morris, P, 1991. "Black Holes and committees", The Psychologist, 14, 48.