next time you find yourself anywhere near a pipe band competition, take a look at the feet of those performing. well, not exactly their feet, but perhaps the tops of their socks. you'll find there are substantial variations in the type of sock worn for such so-called music making, variations that may occur even within the one band. for though it is expected that each member will be clad in similar jackets, shirts, ties and kilt tartan, there's just an outside possibility that this sartorial diktat has not extended to both socks and shoes.
in my early days of not knowing what on earth i was doing with a snare drum, we were issued with hand-knitted gnarly long socks which, when the top was turned over, gave the impression that spindly legs were now the trunks of american redwoods. i have no reason to suppose this was designed to provide a certain level of braveheart persona amongst band members, but at the time, i'd like to think that it probably did.
latterly, before i saw sense and returned to the civilian fold, team issue was comprised of some wimpish form of white acrylic, which not only instilled a gnawing sense of discomfort over the course of a day's playing, but looked particularly tacky into the bargain. how i yearned for gnarly braveheart. my other reason for preferring gnarly was having been issued with a pair of highly impractical and thoroughly fiddly leather shoes that were just a smidgeon on the large side. such was the thickness of those hand-knitted socks, that the shoes fitted rather better than could reasonably be hoped.
with white acrylics i could almost take two steps before the shoes marched.
however, though it may be less of adjudged concern nowadays, at the top of each sock, held in place by thick elastic were a pair of flashes. two lengths of (in my case) green material with a 'v' shaped dart removed from each on the lower side. these were fastened under the turned over top of the sock and were intended, i believe, to decoratively keep each sock at the height at which it had been set when heading out the door that very morning. it may be less of a surprise to know that they were not always efficacious in this duty.
pipe bands are essentially descended from military roots, and in the early days of islay pipe band, there were one or two amongst its number who had played in the pipes and drums of the argyll and sutherland highlanders. one of the traits of the military is often being meticulous regarding aspects of dress, purely, i should think, from the point of discipline. the elderly gentleman, now sadly passed away, who was our original bass drummer, maintained that these flashes ought to be perpendicular to an imaginary line running from the hip-bone to the ankle bone. he would, without exception, take a wander round the feet and legs of the drum corp at each competition, ensuring that this stringent aspect was met, for, he said, we would lose marks if they were seen to be in any way awry.
the veracity of this personal stricture was always in doubt, for not only were we regularly beaten by bands whose flashes were nowhere near this imaginary line, but we begain to notice that said line did not always appear to be in the same place at each competition. it is worth bearing in mind, however, that this particular gent also once informed us that the wind was once so strong in leodamus bay, port ellen, that it had blown several fish out of the water and onto the beach.
as if cycling was not hard enough already, it too has thrown up its own quandary as to the wearing of the median between shoe and foot; the humble sock. in the case of the pelotonese, such footwear is expected to offer at least a modicum of comfort, allied to more spartan decor than afforded by thickly knitted wool pipe band socks. they should, however, offer a particularly high co-efficient of efficiency in the face of adversity, something promised and ultimately delivered by the primaloft wool socks from prendas ciclismo. yet in the process of doing so, they elicited a noisome degree of confusion.
cycling is awash with rules, both written and unwritten, and while the velo club have not, until now, been sticklers for adhering to any notional direction in this manner, you just never know who you might meet on uiskentuie strand. i am confident in my abilities on the bicycle; they may not be up to much, but they're mine and i'm proud of them. however. given the propensity for howling winds visited upon a verisimilitude of belgian roads, it would suprise me not to come across a quick-step or lotto bellisol training camp on a sunday morning before church. imagine the horror and embarrassment to be experienced, cheerfully waving to tomke, when all the while one had commiitted a serious wardrobe faux pas.
for these excellent socks, described by andy at prendas as " a half-way house really for when the full-on winter socks made of thermolite are too warm." are quite tall in the ankle. not 'big tex' tall, but neither are they small enough to be concealed within one's athletic, cleated footwear. given that we are on the edges of winter, when one has discarded one's bib-threequarters for the luxury and safety of full-length tights, socks that fully cover the ankle are to be welcomed with open toes. however, the pervading question has to be, should one wear them outside the leg of one's tights, or should they be concealed underneath?
in the interests of fairness and the possibility of meeting phillippe or tom on a sunday morning, i have worn them in both fashions. it seems that neither has any negative bearing on the comfort and joy imparted by these prendas logo'd socks, for in both instances, i was equally as fast (or slow) and i could attest to no inklings of chilly ankles. or toes, for that matter. i have thus come to the conclusion, that it is better to wear them outside the leg of one's tights; for surely quality, comfort and pride would dictate that 'tis better to show the professionals of just what we hebrideans are made and how we proudly wear that prendas ciclismo logo as an emblem of our status as the cognoscenti?
just as long as you remember that the uppermost point of that logo ought to lie along an imaginary line from the outer copper rivet on a brooks team pro saddle, to the outermost ankle bone.
made in italy, the prendas primaloft wool composite socks are available in sizes ranging from xs to xxl in black and white only at the ludicrously low price of £7.95
wednesday 19th december 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................