What seems at first an uncharacteristically trivial piece by Dalrymple, about the frequent loss of his socks, has its deeper conclusions:
…I cannot entirely rid myself of the suspicion that there is an animate force somewhere nearby that has worked against me when socks appear to have gone missing or become dis-paired. Naturally, the suspicion is not sufficiently strong for me to do anything about it, by (for example) trying to propitiate the Sock Fairy with some kind of sacrifice. What, apart from socks, would the Sock Fairy want or be satisfied with? It is probable that socks are not an end in themselves for this nasty being: as flies to wanton boys are we to the Sock Fairy.Our propensity to see malign forces at work against us is quite strong… We are never very far from paranoia.