Picture the two of us, standing in a queue to sort out the car-park token at the theatre. We fidget while people negotiate for tickets, dither about choice of seats and generally hold everyone else up; we calculate whether there will be enough time to get to the bar to order our interval drinks, or even at this rate whether we’ll have to go into the ‘sin-bin’ because we can’t get to our seats before curtain-up.
Finally it’s our turn – I step back to allow Him Outdoors to proceed, after all he booked the tickets, and drove us into the car-park. The girl behind the counter is youngish, attractive and looking expectantly at him.
‘The car-park token?’ he says. She smiles encouragingly. HO then proceeds to rummage, yes rummage, in his large shoulder bag which has so many flaps and zipped pockets that it never ceases to amaze me that he can find anything. He can’t. The token has disappeared without trace. Eventually he looks up at the girl and smiles apologetically.
‘I’m not used to a handbag…’ he says and she nods, almost sympathetically, as he finally produces the token from his coat pocket.
I am flabbergasted. HO has been carrying a man-bag for five years or more, and in fact has at least three, in different sizes, from petite to elephantine, the choice depending on – well I’m not quite sure to be honest. It certainly isn’t to do with matching his outfit. Perhaps it’s another example of ‘Size Matters’?
The vice started with a Continental holiday, when a neat leather bag found at a market proved useful for passports, camera, money etc. After all Bermuda shorts aren’t much good for carrying loose change. Gradually the addiction took over at home with the advent of ‘messenger’ bags for men. Obviously the man-about-town has to have somewhere to stow his laptop/tablet. Needless to say such bags are immensely useful for other stuff – keys, liquorice allsorts, wallet, sunglasses, reading glasses, a book to read on the train, one half of a pair of gloves, anything a bloke might need (and one wouldn’t want to ask about).
He now seems to carry the sort of portmanteau which I use all the time, having laughed all those years ago at my Mum for doing the same. These days, as I have few useful pockets in my clothes, my bag has to transport a lot of stuff – keys, phone, wallet/purse with 97 plastic cards, bus-pass, railcard, comb, spare pair of knickers, tissues, glasses, spare glasses, sunglasses, lip-salve, pens, crossword pencil – the list goes on – and on. Of course my bag weighs a ton, and yet I need to switch to a rucksack if I want to carry my iPad, a cardi, a bottle of water, or a pair of comfy shoes to get me from the car-park to the theatre.
I really shouldn’t denigrate. A large man-bag is immensely useful at the theatre if HO can be persuaded to take it – my usual tactic is to offer to wear my best shoes. A bottle of water is always handy, and a few liquorice allsorts, and of course, being a gentleman, he has tissues, as well as the clean man-kerchief in his pocket, all at the disposal of a distressed damsel, particularly good for someone who gets sentimental in almost any kind of performance.
There’s further progress – we might see the end of holes in trouser pockets from all those loose coins – I’ve just caught him using a change purse on holiday. Perhaps he’ll put the car-park token in that next time…