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Grumpy Old Bag

A very beautiful model with no name recognitio...
“That’s not a bag. THIS is a bag…”

I have a handbag like a granny. That’s not an obscure sexual innuendo and I’m not referring to the leathery-skin consistency or the mild smell of cat pee of my over-shoulder luggage, I’m referring to the fact that my handbag has, deep within its recesses, every possible item that could come in handy at any given moment, just like good old Granny/Grandma/Nana does.

I am one of those people who has picked up a habit over the years of ensuring that every imaginable catastrophe could be averted using one of the myriad items of flotsam that can be found in my perpetually over-stuffed sack of personal possessions. If you have a nosebleed, I have a tissue, if your shirt rips, I have a sewing kit, if you enter into a diabetic coma or need to feed an anorexic for a week, I have a couple of individually wrapped boiled sweets (sadly not Werthers Originals – that would be truly granny-tastic). I have an umbrella (even in summer), sunglasses (even in winter), a torch, a bottle opener, sticky plasters, a lamp and a potted plant (ok, those last two might be from Mary Poppins). My handbag could give Batman’s utility knickers a run for their money, that’s for sure!

As my handbag is restricted to being of a size that a cart horse would be able to carry, I have had to create static pods of supplementary “handbag” at home and at work. Well, it was either that or convert a small articulated lorry with a shoulder strap. My drawer at work is the place to go should one need a phone charger; Nokia, Blackberry, Apple, I have them all. I haven’t used a Nokia for over 2 years but there it is none-the-less, ready and waiting for a crisis that can only be averted with the use of a fully charged Nokia handset… that I don’t own. My work drawer also serves as host to, among other things, feminine hygiene items, sun lotion, a miniature photo frame (because you never know when Warwick Davis might come round handing out autographs) and a spare toothbrush. There’s barely room for stationary!

As with most grannies, my bag is all too available to anyone who looks like they have a sniffle/flat battery/celebrity dwarf autograph, but somewhere there has to be a line. My handbag, as vast and cavernous as it may seem, does in fact have a bottom. Somewhere, there has to be a limit to how many times it can be called upon to bail people out of lost buttons (stop buying cheap clothes that don’t fit), urgent feminine hygiene requests (come on ladies, it’s hardly a surprise. Remember this time last month?!) and emergency letter-without-a-stamp issues (if it was that urgent, you would use e-mail or buy a stamp from the Post Office where you will inevitably have to go to send the sodding letter anyway).

You may wonder why I am suddenly so irked when it comes to being asked for one of these handy little treats, when I clearly have all these spare wonders just floating about gathering handbag lint, waiting for some Superbag emergency rescue. Well, I shall tell you. They are for me. I know that at some point in my life, I may tear an item of clothing (if you’ve read my post on Underground Fun, you’ll understand how this can be a daily risk). At some point in my life, I’m going to want to post a letter and a stamp would be rather-handy-thank-you-very-much. I also know that my nail might break, my head might hurt, my tights might ladder, my phone might die, my breath my pong and my cigarette might need lighting and for all these occasions, I have a neat handy solution because I put it there!

Those who know me, or who read the sentence above carefully, will have noted that I smoke (and not just when I hold the hairdryer too close on the top setting). I don’t smoke all that much, in fact, I don’t smoke every day (bit of a rubbish smoker by all accounts – not very committed at all). Regardless of the frequency, I still carry a packet of death sticks with me. At. All. Times. Because I might want one. Because I’m a smoker. Make sense?

Why then, do people (always the same ones) who are also smokers, habitually ask me if I can assist them in their quest for a “spare” ciggy. Here’s a clue chum, it’s not spare, I paid for all of them and I intend to use them all too. If you know you might fancy a puff when you’re out imbibing social beverages, then here’s another clue; buy some on your way to the public house!

There really is a point to all my selfish ranting. Firstly because, well, who doesn’t love a good old ranty rant. Secondly, because I also have the callous strength of character to admit that I am, on occasion, a selfish toad and thirdly, I have the flu-aches and reached into my abundantly versatile medical kit of a Tardis-like handbag to find that my emergency packet of painkillers is EMPTY!

*** (For those of you who didn’t spot it, I snuck in a bonus treat on Sunday – I know what you’re thinking. Crazy, right? Not a Wednesday?! She’s living life on the knife-edge of sanity! – so you may want to skip back a post to enjoy it if you haven’t already. Consider it the free toy at the bottom of the cereal box, only less likely to make your offspring choke.) ***

69 responses »

  1. I feel your pain on the Amazing Expanding Purse Syndrome.

    In college, my purse was a velcro wallet on a keychain. Now, I haul around a bag that Saint Nick would envy. I don’t know how I ever did without my eyedrops and inhalers and mp3 players and discount program membership cards and Stevia packets and a Bic factory’s worth of writing implements.

    My right shoulder actually sits lower than my left. I don’t even have kids!

  2. OK, we all need to vent once in a while.And good on you for allowing yourself the rant. I may try it too. Sadly, I don’t hear your usual pithy humor. I’m sure it’s still there or maybe I have too much wax in my ears.

    Or maybe I’m just a bloody, sexist American bloke who can’t relate to bags.

    Have a bloody good day,

  3. One of the advantages (or you may think disadvantages) of being a guy is we can only carry what fits in our pockets. Which means we’re always grubbing off other people!

    • Just you wait. It won’t be long before all us women cut you off at the source and then my friend, then you’ll HAVE to get a man bag. It’s coming, you mark my words.

  4. Hmm. Sounds like you need a Minimalist Makeover! That’s way too much stuff! I used to have a Costanza wallet – (George Costanza of ‘Seinfeld’ fame from some years ago). And I’d store every receipt and plastic card going. And my key chain resembled a jailor’s! Every door, padlock, suitcase, endless keyrings etc. And both wallet and keys would fight for space in my pocket, Not good. Now it’s just two plastics and a slip of paper reminding me of my mobile number (lousy at remembering long numbers). Nothing else (because the cash hardly lasts in there :o(). And my key ring has only the front door keys and a locker key for work. Nothing else. And my pocket lining and thigh have never been happier! If you were to lighten your load, I’m sure your shoulder would appreciate it! :o) Great post – as usual!

    • If I got rid of the “stuff” (and by “stuff” I assume you mean vitally important handbag furniture) then what would happen if I were to get stuck in a lift with a potential publisher and I discovered a Diet Coke stain on my shirt?! Well? WELL?! That’s right, I would wish I had a spare individually wrapped airline moist towelette to about my person.

  5. Items in my purse: 5 Pens, 2 Pencils, 1 Book of Stamps, 3 Envelopes, 2 Bottles of asprin, 12 tubes of lipgloss, 2 bottles of nail polish (black and silver naturally), 17 hair pins, 1 plastic comb, Various jars of makeup, 1 small notebook, 2 nailclippers, 1 sewing kit, 1.5 cookies, 2 granola bars, 5 starbursts, 2 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Ribbon, Rubber bands, 6 paper clips, 3 tampons, 2 packs of gum, 2 pairs of arm warmers, 1 pair of mittens, 1 hat, 1 glue stick, and 2 bottles of hand sanitizer.

    I think with the both of us, the world will survive.

    • You and I are clearly the best people to be stuck on a deserted island with. Just don’t lend anyone one of your lipglosses, you never know when the 12th one will come in handy.

  6. And of course the problem is that even if you put your foot down and refuse to share, your load becomes even heavier because you carry around guilt!

  7. Missy Amber

    Best personal handbag moment came a few years ago, while visiting my lovely aunt. We were just heading out when we spotted her neighbour looking troubled at her front door. Turns out she’d got one of those fancy double-triple-extra-locking-super-secure locks, and had locked herself out. My husband and brother-in-law removed the lock from the outside using a matchbox sized set of screwdrivers I got from a cracker. That’s 1 to the handbag, and nil to messrs Chubb & Yale.

    Also managed to sew the wire back in to my bra at the airport on my honeymoon with the complimentary airline sewing kit I’d been toting around for a couple of years – back in the days when a needle was not terrorist contraband.

    Now I’ve got kids, I basically only use the pram to move my overstuffed bags about – the baby’s just getting a free ride.

    • Super(gran)bag to the rescue!!! Remember, never lend these items to anyone or you will be left a useless gibbering of woman with nothing but a baby to file your nails with.

  8. I also tend to carry every possible thing that I might imagine I might need. Like make-up and contact-lens kit and my (eye sight) glasses and phone chargers and hair pins, hair brush, extra ponies. Perfume or deodorant is must. Maybe a little sweet or chocolate in case I am dying of hunger. Tissues definitely if I’m going somewhere I might not have access to them. And if I am travelling, no matter how short a trip, then all those things you mentioned above (except maybe cigarettes :p), I have them all. BUT they are all for ME! The End.

    Wonderful read, like always! 🙂

    • Sounds like a modestly sized handbag, nothing alarming there. And you will go far with that attitude, why should you share your carefully assembled A-Team survival kit?.

      I think I might go into business selling little handy kits of emergency items (stamps, tissues, eyeliner etc) to men. I could use the proceeds to restock my depleted stocks.

      • No, people found it weird that I took Q-tips to a trip to the northern areas. Or maybe I was weird that I made a list of things to take with me and it was also on the list? I LIKE my ears clean, thanks very much, so whatev!

        Anyways, that is a brilliant business idea, my friend! :p

  9. Please don’t call batman’s utility belt his ‘knickers’ …. please. That aside , I’m back ( completely forgot how whacked out you were :p )

  10. Now I see what it would be like if Mary Poppins and Macgyver had a love child! lol

  11. If someone ever asks me for a tissue and I don’t have one in my purse I have to say, “well I guess i’m not a REAL girl”. You having a hankie – well that’s just feminine squared!

  12. Really? A torch? C’mon now, I can believe the potted plant and the lamp but you are stretching it with the torch. My purse is a lot like yours but when I began flying regularly I removed all gels and liquids so no lotion or sunblock at my fingertips anymore.

    • Ok, the potted plant is true.

      I hate having to travel with Liliputian sized cosmetics. You can wash your face once on your trip. Well, maybe twice if you have a very small head.

  13. “She’s living life on the knife-edge of sanity!”
    The best way to live!
    And by the way, I could fit both my dogs in that bag! I’m just saying….

  14. Hi.
    First of all, I think you are beautiful. Second, wait, no, this is on the same level as the first, I really enjoy your blog. I love the voice you write with.
    You live in London? Its always been my dream to go there. I plan on studying aboard in a year.
    So I’m jealous of you. You have readers, you are able to write every day it seems, and you live in London! That sounds like the perfect life to me. I’m sure you know how good you have life though, you’re even grateful for having both you’re legs.
    I’ve recently started my own serious blog. I’ve written book loads of diarys, poems, stories, anecdotes, articles, editorials, everything.
    Any advice for someone starting out?

    • Wow, you were certainly born with a silver tongue, weren’t you?

      Get yoursef to London and brace yourself. It will hit you full in the face and if you survive that? Well, it’s the best fun you’ll ever have.

      My advice for someone starting out is to do it because you enjoy it, write what you want to say and don’t worry about other people being better/more popular than you are (someone always is). Have fun!

  15. Hilarious! I’m so glad I came across your blog. Thanks for the laugh!

  16. Gosh, I love your writing and the abundance of Britishisms. Warms my cockles!

  17. On this side of the pond, a torch is a very dangerous item to carry in one’s handbag. I realize you need to light your cigarette, but really a torch may be a bit over the top. Here we use matches.

  18. One of the most redeeming qualities of my mother-in-law is her huge purse. It will save her (and the whole family) in an apocalypse. Love your blog!

    • Thanks!

      Your mother-in-law sounds very sensible. Holding the powers of her bag over you all so you had better toe the line in case you have a nail file emergency.

  19. My handbag is similarly stocked (with the addition of half of my kids’ wardrobes – I have no clue how I end up with socks….odd ones, naturally, never a pair…at the bottom of my bag). I find myself approaching security guards at events with a look of stricken guilt on my face – I dread the handbag inspection. I honestly don’t know what they might find!

    So glad I discovered your blog – hilarious!

    • I think you reach a level of handbag dominance where security guards dread your approach and do nothing more than glance casually at the top 2 out of 57 layers of its contents.

      I don’t think any living human has seen the bottom of my handbag for several years. Maybe the matching pairs to your odd socks are down there!

  20. I would only be so lucky to have one of these friends with the oversized purse. Unfortunately for me as a athletic lesbian I guess… (Oh Labels). My friends carry cargo pockets on pants and a wallet.


    • Don’t understimate the power of the pocket. You can fit as much as one medium sized handbag in those trousers – so long as you have really strong leg muscles, that is.

  21. I have to say that I may be your more organized sister when it comes to carrying around lifesaving items

    I have bags WITHIN bags WITHIN BAG!

    – stripey pink for makeup
    – red for First Aid and mini emergencies
    – leopard print for work pens and receipts and mileage
    – two wallets: make-the-checkout-girl-jealous-when-I-pull-it-out-fancy and one carrying all my discount/rewards cards 🙂

    and within those bags the mini containers that break up pens and wax sticks

  22. I saw that you were freshly pressed today! Congrats. =) Because I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, I have nominated you as one of my versatile bloggers (I’m sure you have received quite a few ;] ) I really like reading about all of the adventures you have (especially with your purse) haha. Just wanted to thank you for having an awesome and entertaining blog.

  23. Love this post. I’m just crawling out from under my rock and getting back to were I was last Wednesday. How you doin’? I have a bunch of reading to get caught up on here, so please understand if I’m just hitting that handy-dandy like button while I do.

    Love that you added me to your blogroll. I have to update mine and you are one of the blogs I’m adding.

    Off to read more and LMAO I’m sure.

    • It’s a crazy old world after you get FP’d isn’t it? Keeping up with the comments is practically a full time job! I kind of miss it now it’s calmed down a bit.

  24. “Why then, do people (always the same ones) who are also smokers, habitually ask me if I can assist them in their quest for a “spare” ciggy. Here’s a clue chum, it’s not spare, I paid for all of them”

    Just ask ’em for a “spare” dollar, or whatever one cigarette costs; it might not be considered proper ettiquette, but if it’s always the “same ones” then it sounds like they’re just bludging off you.

    Hey, why not ask them for $2 per ciggie? Might as well make a profit while you’re at it – all the other stores do – and it sounds like they like to get cigarettes from your “shop”, so why not?

    I’m guessing that the usual suspects will stop asking after that. 🙂

    • I think you’re on to something there. I’m going to have a packet of the cheapest, nastiest “spare” cigarettes on my person at all times and ask for “spare cash” in return for one of them. No set price but anything less than the recommended donation of a fiver will result in refusal.

      • “I’m going to have a packet of the cheapest, nastiest “spare” cigarettes”

        Ha ha. That’s pretty good; I laughed at that one (an actual laugh, not a “lol”).

        I thought I was giving “tough love” by recommending that they have to pay up (fair enough, I reckon), but you’ve gone one better in making them pay up for horrible little cigarettes – brilliant!!

        Now I want a camera there to record their faces when they light up.
        (Although, maybe imagining it is enough).

        • Screw “tough love”, I’m all about barbaric acts of vengeance and discipline. They shall never again bother me for anything that comes out of my magnigicent handbag!

          (Oh, and I have a camera in my bag if we need one) 😉

          • “Screw “tough love”, I’m all about barbaric acts of vengeance and discipline.”

            Yay! That’s the way to do it!
            (And thanks for invoking a bit of laughter, again).

            Keep that camera handy; it’s gonna be good. 🙂


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