Friday, 3 October 2008

HSI: Handbag Scene Investigation

Got bored in a lunchtime meeting yesterday and started excavating my handbag. The German intern opposite me looked on in fascinated horror as I unearthed several handfuls of wilted dandelions, some broken Speculoos, and five thousand old tissues.

My poor handbag. It's a nice handbag, really it is. Look:

Cute no? Not too tape à l'oeil, but just chic enough. A grown up handbag. In a rare moment of harmony, the CFO and I chose it together. He benchmarked, I stroked, we were in agreement over the bag. But oh, once you open it, it all gets very nasty indeed. When it was sitting in the handbag department of Le Bon Marché I bet noone warned it how things might end up. It really drew the short straw - instead of 20 Gauloises blondes, a Chanel 'Salope' lipstick and a discreet vibrator, it has to carry dirty socks and pants, crumbs, soil, chocolate squares, snotty tissues, extruded plastic crap from Macdonalds, sand, and many, many escaped Nurofen.

The strangest things I have ever found in my handbag:

1. Cheese rind (I don't eat cheese. I have NO idea where it came from)

2. A cordless phone (not so much bad, just, what the fuck? Home phone, in my handbag?)

3. Mealworms

This is Absolutely True. I guarantee it. We had been off feeding monkeys live mealworms at a wildlife park the previous day, in and of itself an astounding proof of maternal love, because UGH. Live maggotty things, squirming on my palm. Excuse me while I dry retch a couple of times.. Better now. Anyway, the next day, ferretting around for a euro for my morning coffee, I came up with several dessicated mealworms. The man at Exki, who is possibly my favourite person in all Brussels, was impressively stoic. God, I really love that man.

Things I never find in my handbag:

My keys (indeed last weekend I had to get into the house through the coal hole, like a Victorian street urchin)

My wallet (cursed thing)

My annual tram pass (this mythical object is in my hands for about 3 days a year - the soviet style queues to replace it mean I play 'ticket inspector roulette' pretty much every day. The odds are in my favour - in over two years I have been checked once. This kind of minor rebellion is how you get your kicks when you are eurodrone/lawyer/mother/dullard. Fare dodging is the new shoplifting, you know)

Shall we take a closer look? This will probably take us waaaay over the line that separates 'mildly amusing' from 'repulsive', but it won't be the first time, will it. Think carefully before you scroll. And remember, safety first! I recommend protective clothing. Our forensic technician here is wearing an infection control dinosaur mask, and protective gloves.

Empty the bag. Watch out for splash back.


Be brave.

What do you mean, there are no tortoises in your handbag? Or is this some of those frizzled leeks that used to come on top of piled up food a certain kind of restaurant circa 1998?

Make boredom a thing of the past with our 'amuse yourself in meetings' kit. Brush the car. Toss the Pokemon coin. Race the dinosaur. Stick them all up your nose.

Chanel powder compact in shade #4 "leaf mulch":

What's that behind the compact, you say? Apparently it is "a tongue" according to Lashes. Repulsed yet?

Be prepared for any food or creative emergencies with our handy broken fork/stick/straw/felt pen/tiny clothes peg kit!

Or try Kit 2 - broken fork, Compeed and plastic watch. Jack Bauer could kill a man with that, you know.

All this and cosmetics too. Mmm. Look Belette, I got that cream made from unicorn horn!

And a walnut. Just, because.

This is totally authentic. If I had been trying to give you an absolutely typical array of contents, there would have been socks. There are ALWAYS socks. Where did the socks go?

Does anyone else dare to do this? I meme you!


Daisy Daily said...

A walnut too! It's like a Christmas stocking! Or Mary Poppins' bag...if she was to have kids of her own and go off the rails... I wouldn't dare actually take pictures myself as I know what lurks within: spare pair of tights, an apple, umbrella, sunglasses, hat, Madame Bovary (still unread), Paris map, London oyster card, hundreds of unidentified loose pills and the other day in Venice I realised I had a hairdryer in there too.

katyboo1 said...

I love your photos. I want to do photos now. Waaaahhhh!

It is much the same with handbags here. I have a Ghost handbag. It is lovely. It is the love of my life (over and above the children). It looks v. glamorous on the outside. On the inside it is a festering pit of dankness inhabited by random stuff. What is most annoying is that this stuff is not mine. It is never mine.

My husband tells me it is because my handbag is so big you could fit a village in it. This is a lie. When I had a small handbag it was still crammed to the rafters with other people's crap.

It's a conspiracy. I may call Jack Bauer. Save that fork...

Persephone said...

This is why I gave up on handbags. Although, truth to tell, I now fling bigger things (camera, notebooks, gum) in the closest cloth bag hanging by the door. Mostly, I put things in my pockets. Bus pass in breast pocket, money and keys in right pocket, lipstick in left pocket. This does mean that I occasionally put my hand in my pocket and it comes out smeared in "iced plum", but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

Pretty Jane said...

Lord, help us. I JUST cleaned mine out yesterday and did not have the foresight to photograph the shame. Give me a few days/hours/minutes and I'll take that meme!!

Dumdad said...

Love the headline!

Pearl said...

All this and a walnut.



nappy valley girl said...

My problem is not so much what's in my handbag as what's not. I have a work handbag, a 'going out' handbag and a rucksack I use for going out with the Littleboys. I spend my time transferring stuff between the three, and will often find that instead of my mobile, Oystercard, notebook or other useful stuff for work, my bag will contain a conker, a pair of wet baby Gap socks and copy of 'Look and say Farm'.

nappy valley girl said...

PS meant to say, antastic post by the way, I do admire your photographic, and forensic skills.

Anonymous said...

I used to have handbags like that -full of sweets, wax crayons, spare kids pants and socks, calpol, kids books and loads of spare scribbling paper - but no housekeys, or whatever I actually needed.

Do not fear, it will end one day. Now mine are teenagers and all they are interested in is my money. They prefer to carry their own shopping (unless it is in a Primark bag of course) so they can impress their friends if they bmp in to them (I am of course a statutory 3 paces behind as I am EMBARRASSING). After three (humiliating for them) trips to Sainsburys when I was found to have left my purse at home*, they do a check at the door - have you got your purse/debit/credit card. As long as I can produce that and a car key I am allowed out with them. My handbag is still full of stuff, but it is my stuff now.

*I left them as hostages and went home alone for the purse - I am only surprised they (the kids) allowed me go without supervision.

Mr Farty said...

I don't do the handbag thing, but I do have a keyring with about a squillion jingly-jangly things on it. And one key. I'm afraid to look in Mrs F's handbag in case she's got the Loch Ness Monster in there.

Jaywalker said...

Daisy - the hairdryer is a nice touch. I approve.

Katyboo - Oh, there are more horrid photos to come now my internets have been restored. Your handbag reassures me.

Persephone - keep friends and family guessing with your 'iced plum' hand!

PrettyJane - I look forward. Can you match the leeks? Can you?

Pearl - I have just been forced to eat the walnut by a child. It was VILE.

NVG - oh yes, reach into handbag for diary during meeting, pull out pants. Been there. Hee!

Completely alienne - are you sure? Because I have this fear that it would be worse with just my stuff. More squirreled food. More horridness. And no excuse.

Mr F - I bet you put your crap in Mrs F's handbag of doom though don't you. When you go out and that.

zoe said...

I think I may do this as now my bag is full of my own crap - no more kiddy stuff as the girls are 19 and definitely own several of their own handbags. A comparison of the contents of each hand bag could be interesting .....

It's the tampax that always did it for me - the bloody things fall apart if they've been in your bag for too long.

Iota said...

I know where the socks went. They are strewn round my house on the floor. That's where the socks of the world unite.

Jaywalker said...

Zoe - this I have to see. I await.

Iota - singly, presumably?

emily said...

see, now i love your blog, but it does have unfortunate side effects - the first being that i logged onto my computer, having come into work early to do some essential work, logged into my email and then whilst it was doing its morning warm up, started my browsing of the interweb - i have you saved as a favourite,so speedy and distracting! i am now sitting in my little corner giggling and getting funny looks from folk :(
However, hilarious post.

unfortunately i dont have much to offer in the way of handbag shame - i have a little make up bag with duplicates of all essentials so that i can do my make up on the bus in the mornings without carting all my make up around, i have gloves and an umberella (i live in aberdeen :( so necessary) my keys - lots of them on a big bundle of key rings, my wallet fits into little side pocket with my phone and an MP3 player....I think my equivalent of random pills is kirby grips, which i think breed in the bottom of my bag.
I look forward to having children, if only so i dont feel quite so unamusing lol :)

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! I found 12 stones and 8 conkers in my bag last week. My partner thought I had put them there deliberately, as part of my new keep fit regime (he has seen me put stones in my rucksack when I go hillwalking, so I could see where he was coming from) But no, it was my son, who has a fascination with stones at the moment, who had very kindly dropped them in when I wasn't looking.

bonnie-ann black said...

i love your handbag -- i have a regular TARDIS of a handbag -- somehow much larger on the inside than the outside and therefore everything i *need* gets lost; the items i carry to amuse myself, or two year old theatre tickets or that broken purple pen, always seem to manage to rise to the surface.

when i was in paris in march, the small bag i brought with me (just large enough for my camera, notebook wallet and passport) broke on the first day out. i had a long (man's) overcoat with 8 pockets. i proceeded to thereafter carry all my need possessions (as listed above) in those pockets -- plus my accumulated detrius and brochures, metro tickets and a thousand other items that flesh is heir to collecting during the day. when we got to the D'Orsay, and went through the security system (*hahahaha*) i had to empty my pockets. the guard looked on in a combination of bemusement and horrow as the items piled up in the little plastic bin -- watching me redistribute everything in my pockets made for another 8 or 9 minutes of parisian smug amusement.

ask me for all the words to the irish song "rocky road to dublin" or for Shylock's soliliquoy and i can dig them out for you instantly. ask for my business card or the checkbook and you'll be waiting a long time.

when my nephews lived with me, it was even worse -- BW's bag+my mess x2!

(Very) Lost in France said...

Damn and blast. I've just cleaned out my handbag and it's uncharacteristically lacking in gruesome findings. The worst things I found in my handbag were a) a pair of knickers - not mine. I have absolutely no idea how they got there b) a dead mouse - I blame Mad Baz, the cross eyed Siamese cross for that. Anyway, stop posting such funny things. I'm supposed to be sending a fax to school to explain DS's non-attendance today and it's way past school start time. I shall be in so much trouble. VLiF

Jaywalker said...

Emily - kirby grips! Handy for picking locks if you live in a nineteen thirties detective novel.

TT - I'm glad you too have the conker thing. Also - please do not drop scary images of hillwalking with stones in your backpack into comments so casually, I nearly had a heart attack.

Bonnie-Ann - Have terrible mental image of you with this voluminous overcoat with many shoplifting pockets... Hee! Was Paris fun?

VLiF - now, you see, dead mouse, that I have to respect. Mad Baz must really really love you though?

bonnie-ann black said...


paris was c'est magnifique! but i was really there to work (i got a small grant to finish researching my book), so i don't feel i got it appreciate it in all its decadent splensour!

as for the overcoat -- i simply adore long men's overcoats and large hats... which probably don't suit me at all because i'm short and rather plump and plain, but i do love them. the pockets are not large enough for shoplifting anything of real note (i.e., dvd players or LCD tvs...)but would fit a dvd or ipod handily. or a bottle of wine. sadly, i learned long ago to cool those inclinations after being caught with the jewels of...! oops! almost gave myself away there.

my travelling companion still laughs thinking of the faces of people when i emptied my pockets in various locations -- and the 10 minutes or so each night it took to clean them out after spending the day walking through paris and seeing the sights.

my everyday bag right now is a sort of black microfiber bookbag because i simply cannot find a decent bag that has a shoulder strap (essential) and that doesn't have a million do-dads and bangley things hanging off of it. and that costs considerably less than 500 of any currency!

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ghada sayed said...

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ghada sayed said...

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