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.