MANY families do many things together.
You’ll see them through their open curtains playing Wii or on the X-Box, Playstation or whatever the latest gadget may be driving one another off the road in some Death Race 2000 derivative, fouling one another mercilessly in a simulated World Cup with Town beating Brazil 10-0 or blasting one another with more high-tech weaponry than the British army can muster.
Old-fashioned families even do the simpler things in life like going for a walk, picking blackberries or playing in the park. The geeks think these families are, well, geeks.
But nothing can match the endless entertainment Mrs Hirst had in mind last weekend. It was mind-boggling in its simplicity, effortless in its planning, but potentially would fall flat on its face in its execution.
I’d spotted the basket full of clean washing waiting patiently to be ironed and noticed over the last few weeks how my socks had seemed to dwindle to virtually nothing in my drawer. Things had got so bad I’d even gone out and bought some more thinking they’d gone holy and been sent to sock heaven.
But when I investigated the washing basket further and peeled back the top layer consisting of a couple of work shirts, the answer to the baffling sock puzzle lay beneath. It was full of socks. Now there’s six of us in our house and the socks in my two sons’ drawers had also diminished alarmingly.
As for the two daughters, who knows. Who would venture into their rooms let alone their drawers? Robocop wouldn’t dare do that.
“There’s a lot of socks in this wash basket,’’ I ventured to Mrs Hirst. “I know,’’ came the reply. “I thought we’d sort them out together as a family.’’
So there was the bombshell. The perfect family entertainment for a wet Sunday afternoon.
I couldn’t see this working. Getting the kids interested in this? They’d want paying so I thought I’d crack on with them.
Out they came, covering the floor and were shoved in piles – girly pinks, bright colours, dark colours, light colours, boring beige, socks with terrible patterns on them, socks for a six-year-old, socks with trims, socks with different coloured feet. It rapidly turned into a marathon.
But an hour later I surveyed my work with a feeling of smug satisfaction. There they were – laid out in neat rolls. This was regimented sock-sorting at its best. Then the count up that went on and on and on and finally ended at 108.
There’s got to be an easier way than this.
Scientists at the University of California think they’ve got it sussed with a sock-sorting robot. And they’ve even got a video of it in action. Have a look, it’s bizarre, but you’d need to be giving it the socks all ready before it can sort them so that’s no good. Check it out at http://boingboing.net/2010/08/24/robot-to-pair-socks.html This is a university with too much time and socks on its hands.
Perhaps we could train dogs to sniff out the correct pairs and then colour match them.
Alternatively, you can put them in colour-coded sock sorters the moment you take them off so they stay together through the washing, drying and putting away process.
This is clearly invented by someone with no kids. The chances of a sock not turned inside-out, together or anywhere near the wash bin in our house is remote.
But the worst think about my sock sorting session was I probably had more single socks left in the basket than those I’d paired.
And so the whole sorry sock-sorting process is due to start again.