Sunday, 4 October 2015

A Bit of an Old Bag


There is a very high shelf in my wardrobe.  Once it contained an organised row of handbags.  From the tiniest purse to the most sensible work bag, the shelf was neat and tidy.  This orderliness lasted, ooh, a couple of weeks.  Like most women, I’m a sucker for a handbag.  In no time at all the organised row descended into a higgledy-piggledy mess.
            Colour, shape, pattern, motifs, pockets, zips, handles, straps, flaps, texture, fabric…to the female brain these things are enthralling.  And let’s not forget size and whether it’s floppy or stiff (no smutty thoughts please, I’m still talking about handbags).
            Things got a bit heated between Mr V and myself when he went into the wardrobe and was assaulted by a rainfall of handbags on his head.
            ‘Isn’t it about time you sorted out this shelf?’ he grumbled.
            Nearly all my bags are designer fakes.  I lurve a good fake!  Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Yves St Lauren – fabulous!  On more than one occasion a friend has said, ‘Wow, look at you with your swanky bag.  That must have cost the earth!’ The only time I didn’t quite pull it off was when, out of price curiosity, I boldly walked into a Louis Vuitton store with a fake tote on my shoulder.  The sales assistant was beyond scathing.  The temptation to bash my credit card just to wipe the contempt from her face was overwhelming.  But the sensible part of me reasoned it would be much better just to bash her with the fake.  No, of course I didn’t.  But I wanted to!
            However, last year when I was in Canada, one of my very dear relatives took me to a designer outlet.  And lo!  There were designer handbags.  I gravitated towards one that was a mix of suede and leather.  The overall colour was nude with panels edged in black.  It had a long strap and short handles, both with brushed gold clasps that matched the designer’s discreet lettering.  And deep joy - there was a matching purse!  When I later showed my purchases to my mother, she nearly had a fit.
            ‘You’re using them!’  She clapped a hand over her mouth in horror.  ‘Aren’t you going to save them for best?’
            ‘For best?  At that price?  No, I’m going to get my money’s worth and use them every day.’
            And I have.  My designer bag and purse go everywhere with me.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to treat them with a bit of reverence.  This usually occurs when my daughter goes into my bag to borrow something but has to fight her way through layers of crumpled tissues, twenty defunct pens, a split bag of mints, four hundred lipsticks, old till receipts, six pairs of sunglasses (yes, all fakes), driving specs, reading specs, and a collection of parking tickets.
            ‘Mum!’ Eleanor scalded.  ‘Your bag is absolutely minging.  Sort it out!’  Eleanor’s own designer handbag is kept in pristine condition.  She uses it on high days and holidays and it mostly resides in a dust cover.  I wish her bedroom was as immaculate, but apparently bedrooms don’t count.
            Which reminds me.  As the bus pulled away, a woman realised she’d left her handbag under the seat.  Later, she called the depot and was relieved her handbag had been found.  When she went to pick it up, several bus drivers gathered around.  One handed her six typewritten pages, the handbag, and a box containing the handbag’s contents.  ‘We made an inventory of everything we found.  It’s all there,’ he explained.  As she started to put everything back into the handbag, he said, ‘May we watch?  We’re rather curious.  You see, we all tried but failed to get everything back inside…’

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