With some reluctance, I started stage one of the packing. After a year on the road, stage one is unpacking, the creation of chaos: hence the reluctance.
Some surprising things turned up: or rather, didn't. As I piled all the socks together, I noticed there were no black ones. Now why would I notice that? I wasn't looking for it. But black socks are an essential part of the QM2 dress code. I had them when I came in; where are they now? Obviously I put them in a sensible place: inside posh shoes; pockets of dress suits: unfortunately, none of the above.
It is well-known that washing machines are secret consumers of socks, but how could they have consumed the only pair of socks I never wore? Naturally, everything else was forgotten in an obsessive hunt for black socks: which steadfastly remained unfound. Perhaps, like the infamous Chicago White Sox of 1919, they have been banned from ever appearing again.
Having covered the floor in clothes, and invoked the intervention of many of the less-salubrious deities, I eventually pulled myself back from the brink before the men in white coats were summoned. Instead, I went round to the local supermarket, where the ever-reliable Chinese had stocked a whole shelf with dress black socks, made, apparently, from bamboo.
I also used the outing to take my dress shirt to the laundry. The laundry is in the same mall as the barber's, and the young lady here also demanded my phone number. I gave her a false one. She asked me if I wanted light-, medium-, or heavy-starch. I hadn't considered starch at all; I went for medium.
I also found a twenty-five-year-old Canadian two-dollar bill. I obviously brought my stock of old Canadian money in case I had to take a half-term break in Canada. Which reminded me that I had acquired a couple of US two-dollar bills on my travels: but they were nowhere to be found. They are probably among the things I mailed home from Montana and Missouri. I wonder if that's where the black socks went to?