A Handbag? (one for ‘the girls’)

Not prone to purchases on the spur of the moment, nor to extravagances generally, I rather surprised myself a couple of weekends ago (on my re-union weekend) when I bought a handbag (egged on by ‘the girls’ ) in about 5 minutes flat, and without even looking around first.

The said bag caught my eye as soon as I walked into the place, on a mission, in fact to find a specific style of clog for one of the other ‘girls’- (I put this in inverted commas as I’m not really clear how long one can legally refer to oneself and friends as ‘girls’. I’m the nearest to 50, but they are not far behind me.)

Anyway back to the bag. Red leather, sleek design. Creamy lining. I bought it. I wouldn’t have done, had I been on my own, of course – and for a full 24 hours it stayed inΒ  the plastic carrier bag and I debated with myself whether or not I should keep it, or take it back and exchange it for the more staid black version – or indeed get my money back.

Once home I guiltily showed off the purchase. Cyclomaniac looked at it and said, “Well it won’t go with everything. It doesn’t go with what you’re wearing, for example.” I was wearing something with purple in it and that poem came to mind, you know the one about growing old and wearing a red hat and purple whatevers. So I decided to keep it.

The process of changing bags was interesting. Although it is larger than the previous brown leather tatty one it seems to hold less, so I had to streamline the contents somewhat. And as I did that I wondered what everyone else carries around, and whether I am unusual in what I carry? Do you have a tape measure and a nail file, a pair of nurses scissors and a note-book, a diary, a cheque book plus paying in book, a glasses case, a lipstick, a pack of Handy-Andies, paracetamol, ibuprofen and a mirror, and a small screw driver, to name but a few items? (The penknife is on the keyring)

PS I went on Sunday to one of those dreadedΒ  Outlet Villages. Lots of red handbags. Have I inadvertently joined a trend? Or am I rather late in discovering the joy of a red handbag?

Author: Sarah

No time to lose. No, time to lose. Make time to stand and stare.... Did you see that?

86 thoughts on “A Handbag? (one for ‘the girls’)”

  1. Warning – When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

    When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

    with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

    and satin sandles, and say we’ve no money for butter.

    I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

    and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

    and run my stick along the public railings

    and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

    and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

    and learn to spit.

    You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

    and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

    or only bread and pickles for a week

    and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

    But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

    and pay our rent and not swear in the street

    and set a good example for the children.

    We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

    But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

    Jenny Joseph

  2. Oh Pseu, I love that poem, and indeed I love your post. Speaking as someone who has more handbags than is good for her, I heartily concur that your purchase was necessary, overdue probably. Wearing red, whether it be clothes or accessories; is making a statement. You have come of age Pseu, just like the poem infers, good on yer gal. Use it with pride.
    I only carry necessary items in my handbags, which include many of the items you’ve mentioned. The day you remove anything, is the day you’ll need it, keep it.

  3. I was sensible at the weekend. I wanted to buy a new watch. There is a Russian brand; Polyot. They make excellent watches and at much better prices than fancy Swiss brands. I wanted a Polyot Pilot’s watch with all the gizmos, altimeter, barometer, optional gps, you name it, this watch has it – a real boy’s toy. So, I was all set to go out and treat myself to a new watch when I discovered one I thought I had left behind in Cyprus. Good quality, perfectly serviceable and all it needed was a battery…

    I hate being sensible.

  4. I decided long ago to only have one handbag at any one time – it’s just too confusing and too much trouble to keep taking things from one handbag to another… except last year I fell in love with two handbags and bought them both.

    Chaos now reigns (as I always knew it would) my telephone, credit card, or whetever else it is I need is always in the other handbag…

    Love the poem…

  5. PS. Love the poem too and agree entirely with the sentiment…erm, not that I intend to purchase a red handbag any time soon, but you know what I mean.

  6. yes, I love the poem too… and only wish I had written it! It must be one of the most highly recognised poems of all time. I wonder how much she earned from it….

  7. I know what you mean about having one handbag at a time Boa. That is my general rule too, with two exceptions.
    Firstly on holiday I generally change to a ‘bumbag’ or a smaller over the shoulder affair and leave the cheques books etc out. And secondly sometimes on an evening out when I only want a few things… but strangely enough my other half always requires some of his things to be carried in my bag!

    Bravo, maybe you should get a red manbag?

  8. Lovely poem, Nym.

    I have a fine collection of handbags, most of which I never use. I hate transferring all the clutter I “need” to cart around with me.

    I have never owned a red one though! Might consider it though, after your purchase.
    My favourite was one my husband bought at an airport in a tearing rush. He completely misread the price and omitted a few zeros! He didn’t realise until the credit card statement arrived. He was so shocked he nearly grabbed the bag from my grateful paws and headed off to catch a flight to return it!

    After much discussion he decided it would not be the most cost effective solution, but it was touch and go!

  9. Pseu, now, there’s a thought – except my daughters won’t let me carry a handbag, oops, manbag.

    You do know that ladies handbags are subsets of Tardis space, don’t you? Bigger on the inside than on the outside. Quantum, you know.

  10. Pseu – I only ever have a shoulder bag. I’d never cope with a ‘proper’ handbag – I need both hands to talk…

    I carry the absolute minimum – but all my bags must be large enough to take a paper-back – no book, no use!

  11. Boa, yes, it must be able to take a book and ride on the shoulder not on the wrist!

    Ara, so glad he didn’t return it! Is it still in use?

    Many bags are ‘over designed’ I feel. Too many pockets means too mnay places to mis-place things. (Where’s that safety pin?)

  12. (The title refers to the ‘the girls’ in the piece, BTW – the ones that ‘made me do it’)

  13. A machine gun, a grenade, you know, the usual stuff. πŸ™‚

    I use it only in summer. (I have only one, this one). Keys, cell-phone, cigarette, lighter, sunglasses, my tespih, wallet, and sometimes a prayer book and compass.

  14. Sometimes an old favourite is just what you need.

    That reminds me of the school satchel scenario.
    My grandparents bought my brother and I a leather satchel each to start senior school. They were new stiff leather. We hated them. The most revered satchel at school belonged to girl in my year who had hers third hand. Beautifully worn

  15. I am glad to know someone else does the leaving things in the carrier bag and having a prolonged internal debate.
    I don’t like handbags much. I need them sometimes for work, just somewhere to put hanky, keys and money. Usually I use a ‘proper’ bag so there’s space for the important things in life – like books!

  16. The reason that men rule the world is that they have pockets. If women could learn that neat little trick, the glass ceiling would smash into a million little bits. Pockets, oh, and a little (or not so little in my case) thingy that comes in useful on picnics when you want to go to the loo.

  17. Sipu!

    Full pockets spoil the line of a suit.

    Not being ‘in business,’ the glass ceiling hasn’t ever bothered me personally.

    being able to pee standing up, however is something I have envied on occasion!

  18. Sipu I have to congratulate you on managing to relate possibly the most irrelevant thing to that. πŸ™‚

    Pseu, How can you not remember the bag lady on Myt?

  19. Pseu, the wizzy wee, or similar spelling is often advertised in Walking magazines as being the answer for women needing a discreet place and way to pee.
    Sipu, I don’t go in for suits, but bulging pockets do not improve the appearance of any garment, and can be jolly uncomfortable when you sit down too!

  20. Yes, I saw such a device at the weekend, in the walking shop. It advised practising in the shower to find the best position. I think I’d rather go in nature’s way even if it means being spotted with knickers down

    (One time, in a wood I found a secluded spot and crouched, only to be buzzed by a passing helicopter!)

  21. Pseu, your poem reminded me. I was walking with a couple of friends on Sunday. The question arose as to what one would do if one had only 6 months to live. One chap said he had never tried coke and would give that a whirl. He also wanted to fly in a BAC Lightning (a chap here does flights at supersonic speeds straight up almost into space). I would like to go ocean sailing again. I suppose it would be interesting to try cocaine but I have no overwhelming desire to do it. I think banging the railings with one’s walking stick is a bit tame, but I imagine your old lady would like to experience one or two rather more exciting adventures before she kicked the bucket.

  22. I tend to agree with you, but sometimes, as when walking beside canals, or hillwalking in the Sperrins, for example, there is no cover, and that’s when it might be useful. Or when there are lots of nettles.

  23. Is it a raised eye brow I detect there?

    Well, err, you know, it’s a bit hard to talk about one single thing with a woman. I mean sticking to a subject. Especially if you are having a row. You may hear entire humanity history as well. πŸ˜‰

  24. Correct Levent. I may have to hand the Miss Marple badge to you. πŸ˜‰
    Us gals are soooooooo used to multi-tasking we can do it in our speech.
    Absolutely Pseu. Especially on a ridge.

  25. Isobel “Us gals are soooooooo used to multi-tasking”. If that were true why can’t women have sex and a headache at the same time?

  26. I’ve always hated large handbags full of inessential crap.
    Cigarettes, lighter, a few bills, couple of credit cards, tiny notebook and pen plus car keys fit into the smallest evening bag or pocket.
    I always change my bag with whatever I am wearing, exchanging the contents is the work of 20 seconds at most. Anything acquired extra in bag is either filed or disposed of!
    I’ve always wondered why women do it to themselves.
    I’ve always acquired vintage bags, love them. I have a black silk grosgrain clutch that my aunt purchased in 1949 from Worth in his first show in Paris after the war, it is lined with the most perfect scarlet satin is still in wonderful condition and I use it regularly in the evenings. That is the nearest I have ever got to red, not my colour. I don’t count bags, shoes, hats, bad idea! Just charge new ones to the current incumbent swearing it is a total necessity!

    Re red hats, I don’t think the Red Hat Society actually functions in the UK does it? A luncheon club here with chapters all over the place, you are not allowed to join under 50 and wear a red hat which is mandatory, you have to wear pink as in practising for red in due course. Quite fancied joining but so involved with gardening things never seem to have the time. The poem is their raison d’etre.

  27. Sex and headache don’t work together. Other things do.

    Sex and –
    well I’ll leave it to your imagination.

  28. Absolutely right Pseu (53)
    I think the Red Hat Society is here, i looked it up a while ago as one of my mother’s cousins, a very bright and lively 90-year-old, recites that poem at the drop of a hat and was thinking of joining.

    BTW re your comment about girls and approaching fifty, I was startled by a notice in the library for ‘elderly residents – aged 55-85’. and I thought I was in my prime for a while yet, followed by a prolonged period as a mature, or older woman with elderly somewhere dim and so distant as to be unthought of.

  29. I too have a red handbag, a Radley one, present from son a few years ago and I don’t care if it matches what I’m wearing or not. I love it.

    I also have a beautiful beige and green leather handbag my daughter brought me from South America. Unfortunately at its first trip through security at the airport, it came up with all sorts of weird substances including PETA and PETN, as found the the shoe-bomber’s plimsolls. We spent half an hour at security while they tested and retested my bag inside and out, empty and full. I think they finally decided that we were taking the whole thing so calmly, explaining that the bag had just come from Argentina and we had no idea what they used for treating leather there, that we were unlikely to be suicide bombers and they let us through for our flight. That handbag does not travel very far now!

  30. My handbag is a black leather, small rucksacky thingy, Nym. (I do have another for more formal occasions, also black). It contains purse, lipstick, mirror and keys, magnifying glasses, tissues, a pink stone hippo and an antique whistle. My last handbag was a rather larger rucksacky thingy, which was rather more successful, as I could also cram in a book (very important!)

    How nice! I also have a penknife, a miniature Swiss army knife, on my key ring. It has a really sharp blade, a useless manicure device and very cute scissors.

    In my youth, my family tried to detach me (unsuccessfully) from a gas mask bag. I really loved it. All those fascinating compartments!

    I would never consider a red handbag, wouldn’t go with anything, but I’m imagining yours and feeling a wee bit envious … πŸ™‚

  31. Handbags? Shudder! Self-imposed forbidden territory. She coould have kept WW3 in there and I would have been none the wiser.


  32. Of course you can wear red and purple. I have purple bike, red cycling jacket. Sartorially splendid.

    Anyway red is red. You can wear red with anything, I think.

    Love that poem, Pseu.

    I have a red handbag too and a beautiful pink one which I don’t take out much as it might be made of warthog or something. I mostly use a black one full of essential crap rather than inessential. It weighs a ton for some reason. Contains purse, itouch, phone, dictaphone, three notebooks, keys, mirror, umbrella, gloves, usb sticks, ID card, tissues, supplies, chewing gum, cheque book and five pens but I discover,, no emergency white chocolate. Damn. Must have eaten it some time.

  33. Bilby, if my handbag weighs a ton, I can’t imagine how heavy yours is, containing as it does a *stone hippo.* Is it from under someone’s garden? I think we should be told. πŸ˜€

  34. Bilby, if my handbag weighs a ton, I can’t imagine how heavy yours is, containing as it does a *stone hippo.* Is it from someone’s garden? I think we should be told. πŸ˜€

  35. Hi, Jan

    I’m used to brick weight; anything else leaves me feeling anxious. πŸ™‚ However, the hippo is very small and for superstitious, fondling purposes. A very tactile hippo!.

  36. ‘for superstitious, fondling purposes’ Cancel the osteopath, order a couch.
    I suggest watching Cat cuddling flowers again Bilby for a soothing, calming moment or two. Sweet dreams.

  37. I’m very amused by Tina’s comment, though. Outfits?

    I’m quite intrigued by the concept. I have wardrobes full of “outfits” which I trot out on occasions, but frankly, I generally rarely have need of such.

    Tina: please explain.

  38. LOL Bilby. You crack me up! First of all you tell us that you had an unnatural obsession with a gas mask bag, now you admit to surreptitious fondling of a small hippo in your handbag! What are we to make of this? I wish Lord MacNab was here to get you on the couch.

    Actually my bag isn’t far off brick weight. So on that, we agree. Took me a year to get used to walking without a dog on a lead in my left hand. It would take me a lifetime to get used to walking around without a weighty bag or rucksack. Sad cow that I am πŸ˜€

  39. I’m highly amused by the ‘Red Hat Society’.

    When I was a child, my grandmother told me that no ‘lady’ ever wore a red hat – it was a sign that she wasn’t wearing knickers…

  40. Blimey, Boadicea, I might have heard that before, but red hats? Perhaps I have a natural and long standing aversion. It sounds chilly! πŸ™‚

  41. OK, so I’m a flake. I didn’t see Isobel’s comment earlier, so that puts the tin lid on it then. Sob. πŸ˜‰

  42. OFFICIAL: Real men don’t do handbags or purses for loose chane. They do pockets.

    FASHION SUGGESTION: If you have a mobile phone, get rid of the watch.

  43. Real men DO carry handbags. I and 25 million French guys, for a start.
    Passports, boarding cards, credit cards, folding money in 5 currencies; black or red leather with wrist strap, fits neatly in the hand. A good engineering solution to international travel. πŸ™‚

  44. Bo, exactly the point of the Red Hat Society, their mantra is to have FUN, but with no sexual connotations. Nearest equivalent is ‘ladies that lunch’ sometimes too well!

  45. Eccentric sounds much more attractive, Isobel. Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt. πŸ™‚

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