How long should it take for a guilty conscience to dissipate and allow the perpetrator self-exoneration, taking comfort from the rational that no real harm was done and no criminal proceedings resulted? An unblemished record has prevailed until now.

A calico drawstring laundry bag, put to very good use for nearly thirty years, has the logo of its hotel of ownership emblazoned on the front. This serves as a reminder that, no matter how fond the memories surrounding its acquisition, it was pinched. Shampoo, conditioner and sewing kits, unless of exceptional quality, don’t interest me, but this laundry bag … well! I thought of all the use I could make of it and if I offer any excuse in mitigation, it was selected in preference to a grotty little pink poly bag, to protect the contents of my travel bag from whatever my sandals had picked up at the local market. This laundry bag has never been used for laundry, but has travelled to far corners, not as a shoe bag, but a perfectly sized, all in one place carrier for those little fiddly bits a girl needs to take on a trip to a distant destination.

In recent times it has been my bag of bags. Hanging by its fine rope drawstring, it has enveloped a collection of printed paper bags, each with its own story, and serving as a souvenir from its place of origin. Other people prefer to buy ornaments which collect dust. I am reminded of past adventures by the bags and the little pebbles in the piece of a foreign land corner of my garden. They make no demands on my attention, until now that is, as part of the clearing out process the lockdown has allowed, in fits and starts I admit, but easier to tackle than the related holiday photographs. My bag of bags has had a clear out into another smaller bag. The sifting process.

A bit like the sifting required to fathom the evidence that some self-styled expert imparts, with bags of confidence, but which contradicts something we have been told by another expert participating in the same discussion. Baggsie I don’t have to give a definitive opinion of the issue of Covid testing, because it is likely to change on a daily basis, if not hourly. I am torn between rage for and empathy with, on the one hand, and concern for their safely on the other, of those who have chosen to gather in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. I cannot, as I am certain the majority of protestors do not condone the violence we have witnessed, but I understand the depth of feeling of urgency to bring change. If only it was all as simple as the baggsie system allows. It is likely that everyone has a recollection, or even an enduring predilection for using the “I bags that chair, that biscuit, that whatever it is” in the face of competition.

Many bags, many concerns for many reasons. We have become accustomed to dispensing with the poly bag in favour of canvas or string, or the carriers which last for a long time, and advertise by their design which supermarket sells them. I have observed some folk take posh supermarket bags to budget end outlets, presumably to indicate they are not in their usual shopping environment. Inverted snobbery dictates I use my Pound Land tote in Waitrose. What does that say about me? Don’t judge! My Granny had a message bag, and that bag served its purpose well. One bag was enough to carry home the provisions. Comparison with the number of bags required for a supermarket trip today indicates the room taken up by unnecessary plastic packaging or, more likely, the degree of affluence affording more to spend. A box of washing powder takes up much more space than a bar of Sunlight Soap. The myriad of cleaning concoctions and antiseptic everything, cost more and take up more bag room than a bottle of bleach and a bar of carbolic. What’s my point? Not sure, except to question my understanding of progress.

Speaking about my Granny, one of her judgments of an early 60’s shift dress I made and adorned with a belt, left no doubt that the adornment added nothing when she announced that I resembled a hay bag tied in the middle. She would find something to help a family where the “bairns are poor souls, jist bags o’ banes”, and spoke in hushed tones about someone described as a “bag o’ nerves”. At least we have progressed some way to acknowledging and talking openly about mental illness. I won’t detract from any lovely lady impression I convey about her by quoting her likely retort to somebody relating something she considered to be nonsense. I won’t dwell on bags under the eyes or the unflattering silhouette resulting from baggy breeks, and would never allow myself any hint of reference to anyone as an opinionated old bag, because that would be a bag o’ cheek.

I have never fully understood the designer handbag must have mindset and, being non-judgmental – my eye – I feel it is bordering on the immoral to spend £1,000 for something to carry everything but the kitchen sink. My favourite handbag, now several years old, was fashioned especially for me from bicycle inner tubes and a lining from an old curtain. To me it is priceless.

Lunch bags, school bags, duffle bags, haversacks and rucksacks have changed in construction to make them ergonomic to carry and more durable against rough handling, but there is something comforting about packing an old well used travel bag when its various pockets and awkward zips are familiar. There is a knack to removing the airline luggage tags still fastened on, and a pleasure in finding a railway ticket to a destination reached a long time ago. Packing a bag means setting off on a journey or returning home. Let’s not speculate on how much time must pass before such an opportunity will present once more. In the meantime, one exceptionally useful iconic big blue bag with yellow printing on its tape handles is filling up gradually and lying in wait for the charity shops to open.

The laundry bag is going nowhere soon.  It needs to be laundered, as does a calico shoe bag I found in the collection.  It has a different hotel logo.  Baggsie I don’t have to judge whether it’s a bag obsession or kleptomania.  I leave you with the proverbial cat ….

Out of the bag!

2 thoughts on “Bags

  1. I guess if you hadn’t acquired the laundry bag it would have been discarded by the hotel many years ago.One could say , or justify its acquisition, that its continued use has meant one less item going to landfill.


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