Musings of a Handbag
I can hardly bear to think back to my previous life, just hanging around with my chums in a shop window in Genoa, with nothing to do but watch the endless parade of tourists and locals. What’s more I was EMPTY – I didn’t know I was born! But all that changed the minute she clocked me. I knew my number was up when I felt her intense gaze, saw her assessing the length of my strap, the colour of my hardware. Within 20 seconds she’d come into the shop, and in another 20 I was sprawled on the counter in front of her. I could tell from the excitement in her voice that she had found ‘The One’.
Apparently I ‘ticked all the boxes’: I was a nice chestnut colour, so would go with all her clothes and she’d never need to change her handbag over; my strap was the right length, my rings and zips were silver, I had an external pocket for her season ticket, all the required internal pockets, and, best of all, I had a zip all round the outside that when undone practically doubled my capacity.
So began my life as a beast of burden. I never know what I’ll be taking on board next. I’ve learnt that a trip to the Co-op is bad news. Of course, there’s the regulars, who are so ground down by their enforced proximity within my confines that they’re a bit morose: a purse that’s in and out like a fiddler’s elbow, a hairbrush who goes by the name of Maurice, a phone that she never gets to in time, a bulging pencil case filled with make-up, keys, and a Filofax that weighs a ton and that she barely looks at – a Filofax, in this day and age! And then there’s the layer of sediment composed of receipts, old tissues, sweet wrappers, tickets, etc.
I’ve got used to all that; it’s the extra stuff that bothers me: tin,s crumby loaves, yoghurts that threaten my lining. But most of all I fear the books! The worst of them strain my seams, even with the extra space zip fully open. Why has she never developed a taste for a slim novella? I blame the book group. (And she won’t hear of a Kindle – the Luddite.)
I do what I can to get my own back, but it’s a bit petty: spitting her purse out every now and then, but she’s noticed every time. I can make her keys or her pen sink right to the bottom within 10 seconds of her putting them in there, so it will take her at least a minute of rummaging to retrieve them.
Fair dos, she does love me in her own way, and she makes no secret of it. When we are out and about, she has a protective arm around me, and I sit on her knee on the train. Every so often she comes across a fellow big-bag enthusiast who comments approvingly on my discreet capaciousness. That is the cue for a torrent of praise for my colour, my practicality, and – not least – my longevity. I gather no bag of hers has ever withstood more than two years of this hard labour, but here I am, coming up for three, with every zip and strap intact.
I know she’ll grieve the day I cease to be of service, but to be honest, I’m looking forward to retirement.