Posts Tagged ‘Handbags’

There are certain laws by which we live our lives, often governed by statute but also by something that is probably best described as chance.

We are well acquainted with the law of averages, Parkinson’s Law, Murphy’s law, the law of diminishing returns, the law that says school holiday homework shouldn’t be started until the evening before term starts, and other laws that, in the same sort of way, add a little light and shade to life.

Let me introduce you to a new one: not so new that you won’t have come up against it sometimes, but one which you may not have thought applied to so many people. Especially to me. This is the law that makes things disappear, just like that, and then reappear in the place where you have frantically looked for them six times before.

This dastardly Law of Illusion is in full operation in my life on a daily basis, especially when I am preparing to leave the house. This is when I engage in what Geoff refers to as ‘bag faffing’. It’s merely a rearrangement of the contents of one bag into another that I deem more suited to the purpose for which I am exiting Hill Towers. I mean, who needs a rucksack when a small bag will suffice?

So I rearrange and am ready to leave. Except I’m not. Sadly, that was only Stage One of the bag faff.

Keys? Phone? Money? Geoff recites a checklist. I invariably fail on all three, having been distracted by triumphantly remembering to slip my scribbled shopping list of two items into the bag. I trudge off and round up the keys, the phone and the money.

Now, trust me, I’m ready to leave. Keys? Geoff makes a final check. Oh yes, I say, confidently. Look, I’ve just this minute put them in here. I fumble (OK, I faff). No keys come to hand. They should. They’re on a socking great keyring with jingly bits. I hear nothing and I feel nothing.

The faffing intensifies as quietly as possible and reaches a new level of desperation. They must be in your purse if you say you’ve only just put them in there, Geoff says, entirely reasonably but with what is undoubtedly a note of mounting irritation.

The bag is small. Keys cannot go unnoticed. I plunge my fingers into every corner, run them along each pocket. Nothing. No keys. But if not here, where I so recently put them, where can they be?

There’s nothing for it. I tip the contents of the bag on to the bottom stair in the hall. The first thing that falls out is the keys.

I plead with Geoff to understand that the whole pantomime has been caused by the Law of Illusion. I illustrate this further by telling him how so often a train ticket, put carefully in an accessible pocket so that I can easily flourish it when requested, becomes instantly invisible, nowhere to be found.

The heart-thumping panic that accompanies the fevered faffing as the ticket checker approaches is nothing to the relief that washes over me when the ticket materialises exactly where I have already looked – and faffed with frantic fingers – six times.

It’s quite cruel the way things can go invisible. I spotted my daughter unpacking her bag only this morning. What’s gone AWOL? I asked. My phone charger, she said, but I don’t understand because I could swear it was in here just now.

And indeed it was – but it only revealed itself after a two-generation faff of epic proportions.


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I TOLD my sister that because I’d given an unwanted handbag from my modest collection to a charity shop I had my antennae flapping in the search for a replacement.

Sometimes I find it helps to share news of this nature. To a guilty mind it serves to turn a planned act into a co-conspiracy, thereby reducing to a more acceptable level what some (men) may see as self-indulgence. But you have 300 handbags, says an incredulous Geoff. How could you possibly need another? They just don’t understand, do they?

My sister trumped me totally by expressing amazement I’d only got rid of one handbag. “I’ve just given away twelve,” she said.

This sounded generous in the extreme, but it transpired there’d been a major loft clearing-out session going on at Sister Towers, with anything that hadn’t been missed in 10 years being consigned straight to charity or the dump. Hence the rehoming of the dozen handbags, several of which my sister admitted she barely recognised.

All this led up to my purchase last week of a new bag. The moment I saw it I knew that we’d be best mates, just as soon as I’d learnt my way round its inner workings and adjusted its too-long shoulder strap. For now, though, I simply wanted to get it home. I hooked it over my shoulder and, with both my hands full of other bags of shopping, set off.

On the way, I called on a friend who wanted to give me some eggs as her hyper-active hens had created a glut. We wondered if they’ve been engaged in some kind of pre-election frenzy, as if they knew something we didn’t.

Don’t worry about a box for the eggs, I assured her, thinking of the mini-mountain I have of the things under the boiler at home. Just bung half a dozen in a plastic bag and I’ll be able to carry them safely in my new … . Ooh, look, meet my new handbag … Cue a fair bit of preening by me and some generous admiration from her.

I stowed the bagged-up eggs in the handbag, hoiked it carefully back on to my shoulder, gathered up the rest of my shopping and continued my walk home.

I hadn’t gone very far when suddenly, unaccountably, the strap slipped off my shoulder and the bag fell to the ground. My new bag! My lovely new bag! How could that have happened?

And then, with a terrible blood-rush of realisation, I turned pale as I remembered the eggs. The eggs! Oh no! I couldn’t bear to think they’d ruined my new pride and joy, oozing from their plastic bag into all the yet-to-be explored pockets and niches.

Heavy-hearted, I trudged the rest of the way home, full of hate for the over-productive hens, full of loathing for the smashed eggs and their oozy mess and full of remorse for the indignity I’d inflicted on the new bag.

Later, I braced myself to confront the damage. Inside the mercifully still-sealed plastic bag were two intact eggs, four smashed shells and a slithery pond of egg white and yolk looking like some horribly failed experiment.

Scrambled eggs for supper, I told Geoff, as I settled my nervous breathing and muttered a heartfelt ’Sorry’ to the new bag.

After that baptism of abuse, it deserves a lifetime of gentle loving – unlike the dozen bags my sister kept in the dark for all those years.


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