Yesterday I was rushing to work down North Bridge, striding by hundreds of small independent shops their display windows and in one of those windows I saw something/someone that made me put on the brakes and stop.
In said window I saw a monstrosity.
Wispy hair flying in all directions, covering up most of its flushed face (that wasn’t that bad though considering any woman in Edinburgh who doesn’t transform her hair into a cement helmet before she leaves her house suffers similar image distortion) and a hunched back, dragging a huge red sack behind it.
Half woman, half Quasimodo.
Poor, pitiful soul I thought. Aged before her time. That hair. That bent back. Those mismatched socks and banana smeared on the back of her black skinny jeans.
I looked closer and so did the Quasi-woman. I moved the hair out of my eyes and so did she.
I covered my mouth and my eyes filled with tears. I was staring my crooked posterior in its face back.
‘Why me?’ I bemoaned my fate. I do yoga (occasionally), walk at least an hour a day and I have never been to Paris, let alone seen Notre Dame (I’ve read the book though so it’s almost like being there but cheaper and without all the hassle).
Then it dawned on me. It wasn’t my fault or bad karma.
It was my bag or rather the weight of it that made me sport a posture aged well before my time (for the curious among you, I am approaching mid-thirties at a snail pace which translated into the modern attitude are the new late teens but with better skin and more life wisdom, ahem).
My handbag is the evil of all evils.
Raspberry red, faux leather, bought on sale in Poland because I refuse to spend an amount of money that could just about pay off the debt of a small developing country for what basically are two squares/triangles or circles stitched together, with or without a strap attached to them.
On a good day I’m about 1 meter 63 centimetres tall. The bag is half my height. Sometimes I use it as a shield against dragons and confused annoying tourists.
It weighs about as much as an adolescent blue whale.
In a desperate attempt to save my spine, give the vertebrae some rest and send my shoulders on a well-deserved holiday I decided to do what I haven’t done in the last 3 years.
I opened the zip, turned the bag upside down and emptied its guts onto the dining table.
Here is what I found:
1. A spare (clean) nappy – you never know when you are going to need one
2. An impressive collection of Calpol spoons and syringes (some had attracted all sorts of crumbs and alien forms of life)
3. A lipstick (I’ve been searching for it for years), and 4 different lip balms (some vintage)
4. Five travel size hand creams
5. Two dummies
6. A paperback collection of poems (estimated weight –about 10 kg), two average size hardcover notebooks, a diary from two years ago, three pens, an Ikea pencil (I haven’t been to Ikea for the last decade) and Harry Potter’s magic wand
7. An iPod, iPod charger and headphones
8. House keys, keys to my parent’s flat in Poland and work keys (three assorted sets)
9. A mobile phone and all the singles socks that the Washing Machine Monster scoffed and spat out into my handbag
10. About a million paperclips, a hairbrush, a few hair bands and hair clips
11. Bills dating back to 2001 and a bunch of receipts (Christmas shopping)
12. A live chicken, half a cow and a folding bicycle
13. Today’s groceries – a tub of formula milk, a bottle of vodka and a supersized loaf of bread (because you can never have enough bread)
14. Wooden pegs, Korean banknotes and Japanese coins (a remainder from a holiday two years ago and I didn’t even own that bag then)
15. A warranty book and instruction manual for Peanut’s car seat
‘Time to do something about it. Time for a change’ I said to myself.
…I put it all back in, just in case one day I HAVE TO read a poetry book while I am cycling to visit my parents in Poland and decide to take a detour across South Korea and Japan.
As you can see, dear reader, this is a lifelong crisis. My handbag has become my personal black hole swallowing any debris that comes its way.
My backbone’s ball and chain pulling it into disrepair.
If you can break my habit of using my handbag as my home/office/library/warehouse you can probably bring peace to this shabby world too.
As a prize for this impossible achievement I will offer you a live chicken, half a cow and a few wooden pegs as a bonus.
Many have tried and failed. Miserably. The author herself included.