Sock It to ’Em
It was the day of the infamous jury note. Conrad arrived at the courthouse on a half-hour’s notice in something of a rumpled state, wearing tan slacks, a tan jacket of a slightly different hue, a mismatched blue shirt and loafers with—Oh. My. God.—no socks. It was a cause célèbre. Writing in the Globe and Mail, fashionista Russell Smith offered a defence of the seeming faux pas:
“Black was disadvantaged, in that photograph, by the awkwardness of his position: getting out of a taxi is always a dangerous moment for clothing (as female celebrities discover rather more often). One doesn’t normally have one’s trousers ride up so high. I’m sure Black didn’t intend to demonstrate so proudly just how pale his ankles were. So actually it wasn’t as bad an outfit as it looked.”
Um. Sure. Anyway, all sorts of journalists from every corner remarked on his Lordship’s ankles, including yours truly. So finally this week, Barbara Amiel, tending, as always, to the temper of the times, revealed la verité:
“On day nine of the jury deliberations we were in bed when a telephone call announced that the jury had a question and Conrad would have to be in court within 20 minutes. Our hotel is a 15-minute taxi ride and then there’s press and security. ‘I don’t have any socks,’ said Conrad, which is male-speak for find-me-some. We were moving out of the suite the next day with attendant muddle. He had dressed and shaved in five minutes and stood sockless, shoes in hand. ‘It’s summer, for heaven’s sake, don’t wear any. Just get there,’ I said unthinkingly as I searched through laundry bags. I forgot about the press, which, having not much else to write about, seized on socklessness as an existential statement.
‘Astounding,’ said the Globe and Mail. ‘Cracks in the self-mythology of Conrad Black,’ wrote Maclean’s mysteriously. Well, no. Cracks in the organization of his wife who packed the clean ones under the ‘To File in Toronto’ envelope in the ‘Toronto’ box and didn’t get his laundered ones back till next day.”
All of which still leaves, you know, questions. Like, what are they doing in bed in the middle of the after…oh dear, yes, well, best leave that alone. And, er, exactly why would you pick day nine of a jury deliberation to launder all the guy’s socks anyway?