In October of 2017, I tookHoly Socks back to the Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Park, ten years on from our last visit there.
It was three wonderful days of busy-ness, meeting some old friends, hearing of others, and making many new friends.
Whilst selling Holy Socks, Glory Golf Balls, I was asked many times, how it had all begun. It was difficult to give a full answer at the often busy stand, but the question reminded me that people are interested in how we began and also served to remind me of those early, somewhat chaotic early days. (And to those of you, who said "What's changed?" you know me too well!)
Here is a revised version of how Holy Socks began.
I love when people ask "Where did you get the idea?" That question allows me to answer, rather cheekily "Skelmorlie." It was in that village on the Clyde Coast, that there was a gathering of Scottish Churches Open College students at the Salvation Army Holiday and Conference Centre. We were there for a weekend meeting as part of the Training for Learning and Serving course. (I always find it interesting the you have to be trained to learn. Trained to serve, seems obvious, but trained to learn, less so.)
However, there were about four of the thirty odd of us at the weekend, discussing what we called "The Jesus loves you tee-shirt.” We, being reserved Scots (and there are such creatures) didn't like wearing it and thought we'd avoid anyone who did. Someone was wearing Wallace and Gromit socks and we thought "Biblical Socks, what a good idea!" You're sitting there and someone asks you what's on your socks, a much gentler introduction to the Christian faith. A good conversation starter and you can take it as far, as slowly, as quickly, as you think it appropriate to do. I said "Yes, and they'll be called Holy Socks"and we all went to bed laughing.
That was on the Saturday evening. When I arrived home on Sunday evening, I started to look on the internet for Holy Socks, Biblical socks, spiritual socks, Christian socks, anything that I could think of that would produce the socks we had envisaged. Those of you of a certain age will remember when computer screens had a wee line across the bottom to indicate how quickly (or slowly) the search was going. If you remember, you could make a cup of tea and have it half drunk by the time the search was complete. Several cups of tea and several hours later, nothing. The search continued in the morning, (children off to school). Still nothing.
As a break from the sock search, I put in my Bible Explorer, bought for me by my husband - you didn't get the Bible online in those days. I typed in feet and walking and walks and walked and anything else related to feet and walking and up came all those wonderful verses. Even before removing the ones which actually referred to "the foot of the mountain" there were more than 600. In the days before there were constant references to experiences being described as "an amazing journey" etc. etc. reading all the verses had an extraordinarily deep effect on me. There was something more than a laugh here, something serious underpinning the joke and play on words.
I phoned a friend who had been part of the original conversation on the Saturday night. "Listen to all these verse," I said excitedly and had she not stopped me, I probably would have read out all 600 plus. However, my friend was a journalist and Monday was press day, "Could you ring me later?" she asked. I have rung her, emailed her and visited her many times with questions, information and thoughts on Holy Socks over the years since. My fellow student, then Tina Kemp, now the Reverend Tina Kemp has been a great help over those years.
When I began the TLS course I had thought that I was at the start of a route which would lead me to become the Reverend Mrs. Wyllie. I like to say I got diverted. It would never have suited me. God is wise! Holy Socks and rally cars are much more me. (I'll get round to the rally cars in due course.)