I love handbags. They are one of life’s great pleasures and they come in so many shapes and sizes. Honestly, there is always a handbag that fits. As some women feel about shoes, as cats feel about lazing in front of the fire, as hyperbole is to the best way of making your point, am I to handbags. I adore them. I always have.
I remember as a child being asked what I would like as a present from a visiting American friend. We went to the shop together and I chose a bag. It was the worst looking item there, apparently, if you were this lady or my mother. They urged me toward something daintier, clearly this was the first time either of them had met me. Why have a teenie-weenie bag when you can have a cream canvas with tan leather trim portmanteau? I won. The bag was bought and everyone who saw it hated it till I too looked upon it with disdain and shame. How could I have chosen so badly? Into the back of the wardrobe it went, consigned to be forgotten, until now.
This was one mis-step on an otherwise perfectly happy path of handbag love.
In the way of such things there are some people who do not share my views. Nora Ephron, apparently, was one such. In I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora is almost convincing as to cons of owning a handbag, or purse as she would have it, or not have it. Frankly, I think that is where her first problem lay. Had Nora only gone with the British word of handbag I am sure she would have felt about it much more fondly. I can see someone not being over-awed by a purse, what clout has a purse? Where is the chic in a shoulder bag? But a handbag, how can it fail to be imposing, impressive, Imperial? Can you not hear the commanding tone of Dame Edith Evans? Friends, if you do not channel the Grand Dame, at least internally, at least once when you say, “a handbag”, I fear we cannot have the deeply bonded communion of souls we otherwise may have.
As I read Nora’s words I thought, the problem is Nora just didn’t have a bag with a purpose. If she had a purpose, and we all know Nora just drifted, directionless, through her life her view would have been entirely different.
I have a bag with a purpose. A bag specifically designed to fulfil a need. If Nora had a bag like this she wouldn’t have had the crises of delving into recesses for invisible items which only turn up after a replacement has been purchased. Instead she could, like me, compartments – and use them.
To make her handbag more appealing she could have had one with a dangly bit that proudly broadcast its purpose and her interests. Perhaps hers could have been a laptop, or a clapperboard.
I planned to wax much more lyrical about the uses of such a bag, how my years of experience means I am the Queen of using a bag. I have a system, grounded firmly in my adoration of the handbag itself.
I would have told you how I take the bag to work each day and how I laugh along with my colleagues who, taking a look at its size say, each day, with feigned surprise, “you could use that as a weekend bag” and I agree I could, certainly there’s room for a spare pair of knickers along with the cameras and lens and notebooks and laptop. What else would I need? I don’t think that’s exactly what they mean though.
I planned to finish on a high note, I know where everything is in my organised handbag because it has a purpose and I use it as such. The cameras at the front, a book in the laptop section to read at break, notebooks and a purse in the middle where I would otherwise take a couple of spare lenses. Sorted.
Sorted until I tried to get into my house after work.
My daughter opened the door. I pulled out both cameras, the purse, the notebooks, the paperback, the glasses case. No keys! No time to walk back to work, 14 would soon be home. Could they be on the staffroom table? Could they be in the park when I took out the cameras to take some photos on the way home? My theory was shot. There was a place for everything but not everything was there. The bag had a flaw, me. Perhaps Nora was right, after all, she didn’t blame the bags, she admitted she shoved in too many things. That’s honest. I do too with all-in-one bags but not this bag. This bag has compartments and I use them. What could have gone wrong? It had to be me.
A frantic call to work, a frantic eyeball search of the bag while the call went through and then, as my colleague picked up the ‘phone and said hello a realisation, the pocket. A place for everything, a decision to put everything in its place. I would have been better leaving them dangling rather than aim for tidy.
A handbag? A handbag with a purpose? Oh yeah baby, but let’s not get carried away, there’s no need to be too tidy, it’s just not conducive to finding keys and we all know finding keys is the bar by which mobile personal storage, be it bag or pocket, is measured.
All images © L. McG.-E. All rights reserved.
© 2012, Penbleth / L. McG.-E.. All rights reserved.