Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bags For Our Stuff...

I'm having a new handbag for Christmas. I've decided money is well spent on shoes and handbags. My new bag isn't the one in the picture; I just stuck that picture in because that bag looks glossy and Christmassy and it's the sort of bag that accompanies you to parties if you wear dresses with shoestring straps ( I don't) and if you have elbows you can reveal ( I haven't) and if you have gorgeous painted nails the colour of shot silver( what's " shot silver"? Have I made it up?) This is a lovely bag but not my new one.

My new bag is moss green and soft; it's squashy and roomy and it's my friend already, even though it's only just bought. It's smiling pleasantly as I write, awaiting a swathe of wrapping paper around its comfy dependable body.

I have several handbags. My sporty black Rohan works hard for its living; it's accompanied me all over Europe and to SE Asia. And it likes the Lakes and Cornwall, just as I do; it's also particularly partial to London.It's remained constantly faithful, despite being lost beneath a bed in Athens, forgotten in a Gothic Quarter cafe in Barcelona and left swinging (wildly) from a chair in a bar in Bangkok .

I bought another favourite bag at Manchester airport two years ago, en route to Croatia. It's a wonderful warmish pinkish colour; it's fuchsia crossed with salmon. It holds everything from a bottle of water, camera, to books and glasses ( both reading and sun) . Last week I found a picture of my grandson George in its lining. George was one day old and I'd just met him; he was new and perfect and calm and wise and finding this forgotten photo completed a very fine day...

My oldest bag is burgundy leather, small and neat with three compartments; it has tasteful glints of gold and a slender strap on which it can sway gracefully from my shoulder. I bought this bag one sultry afternoon thirty five years ago; since then, it has swayed from my shoulder at Weddings, Funerals, Christenings, Graduations and also Celebrations for Many Things.
I needed a classy bag for an elegant wedding so I visited a small expensive leather shop in Chester ( long since gone); the bag cost a fortune. Unfortunately, I can't remember the size of that fortune but I remember feeling breathless on my way home and thinking how we'd have to live on poached eggs for a week. However, this bag still smells and looks gorgeous after all these years, so that fortune was money well spent. And my mother was right, always stressing: "Quality not quantity". In other words, class outlives tat.
The bag still contains "stuff" from decades ago; concert tickets, a special address, a meaningful postcard, a picture of a longdead Lakeland terrier.It's a well-travelled bag although recently, it's rested at home while Rohan took it's place. But it's seen me through good times and bad and hopefully, my new green one, beaming from the sofa as I write, will be just as essential in my life before long..


Anonymous clare said...

Must have been a tiny bit like seeing George all over again coming across that photo like that. And yes, I too have found that you get what you pay for - certainly as far as handbags are concerned.

10:28 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Yes Clare, seeing the photo brought back the warmth of that reminded me how 4 excited grandparents and 1 uncle hid in a kitchen in East London, until the door flung wide and there was George, all brand new, arriving home with his smiling proud mum and dad.
I always say that photos ( with the memories they store ) are beyond price.

11:33 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

Wey hey! my first comment on your blog, Jan. Sorry it's taken so long. Have just been reading your delightful review of your handbags; so, so true.............quality over quantity, but memories above all else. It reminds me of a DVD I received for Christmas - from a friend back in Tenbury - showing a promotional movie of Tenbury's traders in 1962. The fashions were something else, together with hats and handbags. Most xciting of all was seeing my grandmother (Polly) shopping in Tudge's department store! She had one of her own design hats on (probably velvet, her favourite material). It brought back so many fond memories, like your photos of George and Flash.

8:48 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks Philippa.
( For anyone else reading this, Philippa is my 2nd cousin )
My parents loved Polly ( Philippa's grandmother and my "aunt by marriage")and they very much admired her talents. Each year she visited Ascot wearing one of her own stunning millinery creations. Ted (her husband)was a station master so they weren't well off but she always looked fabulous. I would LOVE to see that DVD Philippa and I know Andrew would too.
Polly had the most wonderful voice; a lilting South Walian accent, rich and creamy toned!

9:14 am  
Blogger Philippa said...

If I say you can see the DVD when you call, maybe that will encourage you to visit this wonderful part of Devon!!
Actually, Nan's accent was NORTH Wales, hailing from the Bangor/Holyhead area. She'd turn in her grave at the merest mention of the south!

10:34 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Philippa: I see you're developing your own blog! Good News.
My aplopogies re Polly's heritage; I was SURE she was SWales but on thinking about it, I recall the Bangor connection ( nearness to Chester etc)
I also recall Polly's wonderful plump powdery cheeks and the wry smile she often had...she was a very strong lady and like many of my relations, I wish I'd known her better.

12:23 pm  

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