Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I aint carrying no handbag!

It started with the realisation that I could not read the map. In the dim light of the car interior, the tiny font was competely indecipherable, leaving us stranded looking for some unnamed street in the suburbs of Pafos.
My shorts have two pockets on the legs. In one I keep my wallet, in the other my phone. On holiday, I have the dilemma of where to put a camera but mercifully, the camera has a case which has a belt loop atttached and so, with quick draw photography a definite bonus in a location where lizards and butterflies are apt to appear and disappear with little announcement, I keep it there, uncool though it might appear.
But suddenly there was the possibilitiy, nay the necessity, of reading glasses. Where would they live and how would I ensure I did not lose them?
The realisation of their necessity had already been made apparent six months earlier as I attempted to read the map I had printed to guide my way in Munich. On a layby on the A3 one foggy January day, I found myself unable to discern the number of the autobahn from the google maps offering of the area. Was that 83? 93? 98? Oh! This wouldn’t do! I have to sort this out. And had I? No. Pride stopped me: and the belief that immortality, freedom from bodily degredation was mine, not like everyone else who had previously and erroneously believed it. I actually was suffering none of the age-related decline that afflicted lesser mortals.
Except now I couldn’t read the bloody map whereas, a year ago I could have!
The trip to the opticians had confirmed it: +0.75 in each eye where before it was perfect. Reading glasses they said would become necessary but I didn’t have to do it now (though the eager demeanor of the lad in Specsavers idicated he would be most disappointed if I didn’t).
And so, his get-out accepted, the denial continued. My eyesight was still ok as long as the light levels remained reasonable. After all., who can read in poor light?
But here I was frustrated and slightly ashamed in the municipal car park in Pafos, having to call the owner of the vila for directions because I had been hitherto too proud to get myself the reading glasses I knew deep down were necessary, despite the implications for my own sudenly apparent ordinary mortality.
But, and returning to my original point, where does one keep glasses? In the course of a day’s activity, a wallet can be accommodated. A passport even. A phone, obviously. But where to keep glasses?
In Hong Kong a few years ago, a more enlightened colleague had persuaded me to purchase a “manbag”. Exquisitely stiched from quality leather and ultimately incorporated economically into the transaction of purchasing a wheely suitcase that became ultimately required on that trip, the bag was seemingly an astute purchase in Hong Kong.
But, home in South Goucestershire, it suddenly seemed a bit pretentious and even a bit camp and despite its obvious usefulness with regards to loose change and the other apparatus of 21st century living, it was relegated to, initally a receptacle for IT related cables for travelling and ultimately to the bottom of my wardrobe in shameful neglect.
This is a shame. Ladies always carry handbags. It would seem from the turnover of such objects that the search for the ideal is never at an end. But at any one time, there is a place in which all the useful and useless paraphernalia of life can be accommodated.
The mystery of the handbag can never be fathomed. From looking into my mother’s handbag for the doorkey on evenings whan I wanted to return home early from some event, I knew there was something deep and unfathomable about this bastion of feminine practicality. Amongst the compacts, receipts, breath mints, dental floss and unidentifiable feminine hygeine products to be found, was an unapproachability that led me to find that key and get out.
But how useful that containment!
So why suddenly when I had the chance to have my own handy repository of useful things, am I suddenly so self-conscious? Just think of al lthe things I could have in there in addition to the requisite objects of the 21st Century lifestyle! String, superglue, a swiss-army knife, adjustable spanner, cable ties!!! oh there is no end to the usefulness I could carry around with me!
But no. I cannot. Even I who snorts at convention, who thumbs his nose at dispproval without just cause, even I cannot bring myself to carry around my shiny brown leather practical solution to modern clutter.
And so, where do I keep my specs? The question remains. And so, I shall continue to squint in denial.

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