Posted by: tabliope | June 24, 2008

life and handbags

We're off on holiday in a couple of days and for part of this time we'll be renting a house in England.  The company that arranges the lets sent a note to say that we should telephone a few days before arrival to make arrangements to collect the keys.  I've just spoken to a very jolly lady who was 'terribly pleased' that I'd phoned because she'd been quite worried about how we would manage to communicate given that I was 'abroad, so to speak'.  Well, it's not 'so to speak' , it really is abroad.  Anyway, I managed to reassure her that this part of Europe was fully immersed in the 21st century regarding telephones and email and so she's going to tell Gail that they don't need to worry anymore.  She was such a nice lady that I couldn't even manage the tiniest bit of sarcasm in my voice.  Not even when she said that I ought to bring a windcheater and a warm sweater because you could never be sure about the weather.

Before I go on holiday I always tend to clean my house partly because it's nice to come back to a bit of order but also because I can't bear for my bossy neighbour who looks after things when I'm away to realise quite how slatternly I can be.  Once again I was attempting to organise our possessions and moaning to myself about the lack of suitable storage and how my life could be transformed by better storage facilities and thus glossing over the fact that I'm just rather untidy when I decided to get rid of a whole load of things that haven't been used since I moved here over a year ago.  One of the things that I finally got rid of was my mother's handbag which has been moved from Scotland to England and then twice within Europe.  For some reason I couldn't quite bring myself to throw it away despite having disposed of most of her other possessions.  Her glasses were in there along with 2 cotton hankies, a library card, a powder compact, several pens, and the odd bits of rubbish that accumulate at the bottom of handbags. 

I'm not sure why I felt quite so precious about the handbag but in some way I felt that it would be disrespectful to throw it away but at the same time I couldn't imagine anyone else having it although I didn't mind giving away much of her clothes and jewelry.  There's something quite personal about a handbag but I don't understand why. It's mattered to me for years – she died 8 years ago – and I'd periodically mumble something about how I ought to get rid of Mum's bag and my husband would say that there was no rush and so it would just sit there, under my desk in the study in England.  Then it was in the spare room in our next place and then here it was put on a shelf in the cellar until I finally realised that it is just a bag. 



  1. I’m usually incredibly ruthless about chucking stuff out, but I think even I would have had to pause on that one. You’re right, it is just a bag, but you need to be in the right place to throw something like that away.
    I’m setting aside Friday morning for cleaning our house from top to bottom – I know it’ll just get dusty and messy again (especially as our friend K is coming to finally finish our fitted wardrobes), but I think I would feel slightly ashamed if he came over and there were furballs and dust bunnies everywhere.

  2. I’ve kept some things for ages.  The hardest things to get rid of are things that my mother had kept for ages like pairs of her grandmother’s kid gloves in almost pristine condition – in fact, I’ve not got rid of them.  It’s easier to throw away something that I’ve decided to keep rather than something she’d decided to keep.
    Have a lovely hols x

  3. My sister found my mum’s handbag when she went up to my dad’s – it was still under her chair, with her glasses on the side table – and she suggested to my dad that they at least put it away somewhere.  She found a note inside with a list of strange names and phone numbers, none of which were recognised.  My dad was completely unperturbed whereas we’ve been in spasms of curiousity ever since.

  4. [this is good] enjoy. I hope my facebook message made sense.
    my mum’s mobile phone makes me cry everytime I look at it. xx

  5. My sisters and I were astonished at two things – how many handbags Mum owned and how many places she found stash packets of tissues and old-fashioned hankies.  It was her purse that smacked me in the gut – jammed full of photos of all of us.

  6. Having re-read the above I would like to point out that I do clean my house at times other than holiday times – there’s my birthday, for instance.

  7. Cleaning on your birthday?  Now that’s just silly ….

  8. My house is self-cleaning. Yours can be too. Just keep the curtains permanently closed and employ a pair of dark glasses. See?

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