Thursday, 3 November 2011

Handbag decontamination

I have done my annual handbag clear out. It wasn't anything like as disgusting as it usually is, just medium shameful. If it wasn't for the squashed cake, it would have been fine. Visual evidence:


Cinema tickets (Le Monstre de Paris, whimsical animation with Vanessa Paradis and a giant mutant flea, quite tolerable)

Pile of old tissues

Purse with only English money and cards in

About 11 centimes

Orthodonist/usurer's appointment card

British Gas pen despite not being a British Gas customer since 2005

Bratano stickers to be lost and never redeemed

Squashed chocolate "cup cake" (misnomer) - 4 for €1,30 which was an unmissable bargain even though they were a bit dry

School menu for November (highlights: seitan balls and the horrific DRIED FRUIT DAY, November 24th)

Tangerine, approximately three weeks old

Pointless empty plastic ball

Fifty euro gift card from Diane Von Furstenberg, for whom hope plainly springs eternal, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that I never buy her wares since cleverly taking up this new career that pays me approximately -€123 a month after tax and professional charges.

Several leaflets for stables

Lanolips lip ointment in Rhubarb, like a figleaf of normality

Found these in a side pocket: Lego mummy and tuft of some kind of animal fur. Oh, and I've just found some Nurofen 400 in the useless purse of English money, so that's a bonus.

On top of this catalogue of crapness, I went to a meeting today, having carefully got dressed in nearly clean clothes and worn foundation and everything, only to get home and realise my "hair" was full of toothpaste. Properly, an alarmingly large quantity. I can't even work back to any kind of understanding how on earth it happened, I'm just fixated on spending the morning talking to the exquisitely dressed manager of an exquisite modernist hotel, with a head full of Sensodyne. I am 37 in three weeks time, I earn less money than when I graduated and my future employers paid me to go and listen to tort lectures 3 times a week AND I have toothpaste in my hair. Which is not even my hair. What is the moral here, hmm? No, don't even tell me.

"Uccle Verité" shots of the week:

1. Hallowin

We tried to go trick or treating, with limited success (Belgian tv halloween coverage was limited to "how many chrystanthemums have florists sold this year for placing at cemeteries"). The boys wore fitted cot sheets, like so, in yet another triumph of parental can'tbearsedery:

In my defence, I should say that neither of them wanted to dress up at all, but I said that if they wanted to extort confectionery door to door, they had to make some degree of effort, and this was our compromise. In my FURTHER defence, I should say we hosted a Hallow-win party last weekend at which I did all sorts of try-hard stuff, like apple bobbing and pacman ghost shaped biscuits and crap carving of squashes and wrapping small children in budget loo roll. Anyway. I think we can conclude that another year has passed without Belgium quite getting the hang of Hallow-win. There were many non-carved pumpkins simply placed in front of shop doors again, like so (these still make me laugh).

I'm trying to find a narrative that fits, but I just can't. "That looks like one of your shoes, Maman!" said Fingers. I sent him up the chimney shortly afterwards.

3. Autumnal supermarket display

I love my eldest child's expression of hooded distress and bewilderment here faced with Angry Stuffed Fox. He hasn't spent enough time at his grandfather's Yorkshire hangout, which is full of crap stuffed creatures of many varieties.

What's the nastiest thing currently in your handbag? Alternatively make me feel better and tell me about a time when you unwittingly looked a complete arse.


Anonymous said...

Some really uncomfortable knickers tied in a knot, thermal vest (both items worn to work and then removed during the day). One and a half packets of Wet Ones Be Zingy.

Hannah said...

A 580eur Electrabel bill.


Anonymous said...

Ticket for ride on old fashioned bus at Amberley Chalk Pits Museum, few withered leaves, tons of crumbs, Clinique black honey barely there lipstick with no lid, so layer of crumbs on top of lipstick, purse, Wakehurst Place membership card, One piece of Xtra gum in pack, tiny pack of haribo 10p size, receipts dating back months, council tax receipt. Horrible bag on top of the tedium inside.

Dara said...

small crushed bits of Goldfish crackers, one sock, 5 hair rubberbands with knots of hair stuck to them, 2 pieces of chewing gum with Goldfish crackers stuck to them, two size 3 diapers (clean), and an empty wallet.

Alison said...

Small pumkin, ALL pens in the world, tampons, smell of off milk. Ooh, just found a mascara and lost USB stick in the lining. Fabulous.

Waffle said...

I love you all, and your disgusting handbags.

Hannah, I have one of those in mine too, but I'm in denial.

Ann said...

I am a sometimes wearer of much make up, yet often too lazy to bother. So I can't remember when I do and don't have it on my divine face.
Anyways, whilst in heady days of entirely useless English MA, I'd go to the gym prior to a seminar with a name dropping numpty. After one 'workout' and en route to my seminar, I noticed that I was getting funny looks whilst on the tube. "Ha! Why are these loosers all staring? I am so wonderful and fabulous, why do they stare? They probably are jealous, ha!". Why else would I be getting funny looks? Why?
By the time I got to my floor of dilapidated uni, and some poor fresher looked positively disturbed, I high-tailed it to the ladies. I'd been walking round for about half an hour, through central London, with the thickest ring of non-waterproof-sweaty-gym-then-hot-shower mascara in a freaky ring around both my eyes. About an inch wide in all directions. Consider pride before fall, etc. etc. And also vomming on Overground the other weekend after cackling with a friend where only logical consequence of us meeting is becoming truly shitfaced (and I am a married mother of 2, dear gawd).

MargotLeadbetter said...

I can match your lego mummy and empty Kinder plastic egg, and raise you one decapitated mini knight puppet (and its severed head). Also:
1) Various possibly vital pieces of paper, worn and semi-shredded because they have been rattling round my bag for ages
2) Either fifty pens or no pens
3) At least five lip glosses

A couple of years ago, at work, I found a pair of widdly pants in my handbag, which I had removed from my son's nether regions the day before.

Betty M said...

I have assorted crumbs and a broken ceramic sub-machine gun from a smallish SAS Arctic uniformed china teddy bear. And my stash of propelling pencils which are from the last box located at work as we can't get them anymore as the taxpayer apparently won't stand for such extravagances in the age of austerity where others award themselves 50% pay rises (bitter? no never).

MsCaroline said...

I'm honestly afraid to look in my handbag, but I loved this post so much I plan to steal the idea when I gather some courage (but with full credit, never fear; I want everyone to know what witty and urbane blogs I read.)

Fond memory of public humiliation was the day several years ago I go to work and realized that I'd put on two entirely different shoes (one flat, one low heel; one black with a buckle, one blue.) What was interesting was that the children I taught who were ordinarily so unobservant that they forgot to note things like major exams, all seemed to zone in on my footwear, and (better yet) comment on it. And since a new class came in every hour, I got to hear about it all day long.

karen said...

Could the tangerine possibly fit into the plastic egg, so when it's left too long, the rot is at least contained? I speak from experience ...

Along with the usual detritus of receipts etc, my handbag currently contains a new swimsuit that I bought just in case I'm forced to go in the pool with the kids on our weekend away (but which I'm hoping I can avoid) and a little plastic fish of soy sauce that came with sushi some months ago. I am profoundly grateful for your post, because I have now removed the possibility of having soy sauce dripping through the whole bag.

blackbird said...

The handbag relic is always the same. No, not the slightly damp chewing gum (strangely, still in its wrapper) but the disassembled tampon with its paper wrapper wrinkled and torn and its plunger tube dislodged from its insertion tube and the tampon itself covered with hair and lint from the bottom of my bag. This ensures that, whilst hovering over some moderately filthy pubic loo, I must re-thread the string through both the insertion tube and the plunger tube to render the whole shebang useful again.
I have one of these in each of the handbags I own.

Margaret said...

"The" time I looked a complete ass? Just one. OK, let me think on that. As for my purse, the most disgusting thing is my non-Apple iPod earbuds. They are that rubbery white substance that is always, always grimy, and the buds themselves were originally pink but now look like they'd been in a hobo's ears for ten years.

Anna said...

Several pieces of plastic fruit, one lego man, one pair of old tights, sparkly hair clips (broken), one wallet with biro marks all over it, one individually wrapped polo mint. All nestled in a general mass of screwed up receipts, shredded tissues, cheese cracker crumbs and silly bandz.

NorthernKath said...

My GCSE Spanish oral exam. To be more specific, the fact the only phrase I said in Spanish during it was "Yo passo la aspiradora", the rest was a French-English hybrid with the odd actual Spanish word in. Bizarrely enough, I did well enough on the reading and listening to come out with a B over all. Which says more about state of UK education than my Spanish skills.

Anonymous said...

stocking ends that i'd cut out 'coz they'd got stuck in my toenails :). look ridiculous most of the time, probably, hardly look in the mirror before rushing out, worn shirt or jumper inside-out at least twice. gave up carrying handbags, everything has to fit in my pockets (purse, keys, mobile phones). small shopping bag for everything else, i simply tip out evrything when i get home, much easier to get rid of the trash. got the idea when i was wondering why Mr. never has to search for stuff. simple, men simply don't carry handbags, so they're forced to stick to essentials. must admit, hardly wear make-up though, tho have stuck tube of foundation and eye-liner in my back pocket as well. so far so good.
crazy bout your blog :-).

Veronica Wald said...

That's OK about the toothpaste. Yesterday I went to an academic presentation by a brilliant young professor whose decolletage slowly but surely dipped ever lower as she showed slides of her interesting research findings until quite a lot of anatomy was improperly revealed. She was nerdily unaware the whole time, but I'm not so sure about the folks in the audience. How nice to be so happily focused and oblivious, no?

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes said...

I will unload my handbag and write down its contents directly :
-1 Delvaux wallet with byro marks (wallet was gift from mother, byro marks gift from daughter n°1)
- cell phone charger
- cell phone
- keys
- 1 pink spoon for feeding a baby
- 2 tangerines
- 1 blush compact
- 1 make up bag (with mascara and such bare necessities)
- a sample of antiwrinkle cream
- coupon for Westvleteren
- 1 moleskin notebook
- sunglasses
- daughter n°2 SIS-card
- 2tubes of lip balm
- some grapes (eh, where did those come from)
- 1 tube of concelear
- 1 tampon
- 1 lipstick
- Thyroid medication
- antibiotics
- 1 pair of white panties (mine thank God, but again WTF)
- about 5 euro's in copper coins
The End

Debbie said...

I have every cash register receipt received in the last four months lining the bottom of my bag. The only receipt I really needed (they won’t deliver the furniture without it) managed to find its way into the garbage where I found it happily soaking up the juices of rancid food. It will still be readable once it is all dried out, right?

Laruca said...

Many years ago, when I was a student, I once spent a whole morning in the library (!!). Came out of it, walked for a bit, got on a bus, went home. Everybody everywhere staring at me. I thought I must look gorgeous, even after my studious morning.
Had a long biro line on my cheek. Can't believe nobody told me.

The Reluctant Launderer said...

I find it v comforting that I am clearly not the only handbag slut in the cybersphere. Crusty tissues - check; pants (son's; now dry but recall they weren't when they went in there) - check; sticks, stones and various other things which might break my bones - check; party invitations for the boy's bday ten days ago - check; various half-eaten biscuits etc - check; one shoe of each of the boy and the girl - check; and my favourite - a small tube holding a piece of my knee cartilage in formaldehyde - check. I think it's time to get a smaller handbag.

Lesley said...

A mould-covered medicine spoon from a now absent bottle of calpol. On closer inspection it is actaully a fluff-covered medicine spoon. Slightly less disgusted with myself.

Pat (in Belgium) said...

I have bandaids (plasters), a nail clipper, tweezers, a collapsible toothbrush, dental tooth picks, safety pins, aspirin, hand wipes, a tiny travel deodorant AND several panty liners -- ALL stuffed into a small zippered bag in my handbag thanks to a drugged-influenced road trip nearly 40 years ago when we giddily decided to drive from Toronto to Montreal for the weekend, taking nothing but the clothes on our backs.
It still freaks me out -- obviously.

Alison Cross said...

Nastiest thing in my handbag is a cough sweet - partially sucked by my son, deemed disgusting and spat into the corner of a paper hankie.

Most interesting thing in my handbag - the discovery that I have seven biro pens and two pencils.

Look, I didn't say HOW interesting, did I?

Stuffed fox. Terrifying.

Ali x

Fat Controller said...
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Fat Controller said...
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Fat Controller said...

Not being an habitual handbag user I am disqualified from that bit, but I can trump your animated window display. our local isenkram (difficult to translate - purveyor of household goods. Think; Timothy Whites) has a wooden chest in the window out of which is peering the severed head of an enormous and very pissed-off-looking deer (well, wouldn't you be?). I can't quite work out the message. Maýbe its something like "Buy some stuff or we'll arrange to have a severed deer head put in your bed".

Fat Controller said...

As for making an arse of myself, I have just posted the same comment three times.

Mademoiselle Mongoose said...

3 notebooks, a (crap) US phone, a (really crap) UK phone, a wallet filled with dollars, an empty wallet meant to hold sterling, 10,000 squashed recipts, The Fry Chronicles, a packet of pastel pens (to make to do lists less terrifying), squashed Metro cards, all containing $1 or less, leaking makeup/lip glosses, 3 pairs of sunglasses, despite it not being sunny, one glove, lots of crumbs, packet of chocolate buttons.

Anonymous said...

I hate my D&C bag given to me by generous co-workers who thought I needed something beside a "Target wallet on a string" - curses on their generosity. I call it the "black hole" since I can never find anything it. . . .most recently - lost several pairs of contact lens in cases, found a deposit I should have made several days ago - afraid to check my bank balance now - and a pair of cotton granny pants - details of which I will spare you. Don't despair - I had many good years with only my wallet - childrearing is the main cause of "purse distress"- I should know - I had four!

Rusthandle said...

I recently enjoyed a family fish and chip night at kindergarten until one of the teachers kindly informed me that I had split the rear of my jeans. Spent the rest of the evening with my jacket tied round my waist....

Xtreme English said...

A t-shirt (worn when cleaning a friend's house), a pack of kleenex, a pen, the shrink wrap from a new pack of hearing aid batteries, and a program from the PEN/Faulkner reading by Emma Donoghue and Chris Adrian this past Monday night.

Marie said...

several nail varnish pots (blue,green,red) ,nail varnish remover just in case I have a change of mind,mismatched earrings, (clean) knickers (One of my worst nightmare would be having to stay somewhere overnight and not being able to change lingerie) ,tons of 2 pence pieces and belgian francs(?), polo's and the usual crumbled cookie covered hot wheel toy car...

Mum always told me that my dad once sent me to school half naked, having only my skirt and tiny undershirt on.Luckily,I was then three and don't remember this at all but it sure could have been very embarrassing ! ps : What day is seitan balls ? can't see it on the menu and I want to make sure they've got awfully good pizzas that night ;)

Anonymous said...

Handbag to boring to list, but once berated journalist for asking my boss questions not previously discussed and was irritated at the way he smiled politely. Only realised three hours later that the nibbles provided at event had left lovely trail of poppy seeds between all my teeth. All of them.

Gillimoth said...

I have no idea what's in my handbag. All I do know is that if I peer inside from a distance it looks like the inside of a skip, and that last time I drove anywhere and put it on the passenger seat, the car nagged it to put a seatbelt on.

Anonymous said...

Waffle! Has the handbag of doom swallowed you alive? Hope you've also survived "Hallowin" OK!
Heather (NZ)

wf; ablesses (maybe you're afflicted with these?)

Ann said...

Waffle, where art thou? Has Satan the rabbit got better of you & Weepette?

Anonymous said...

Hope that it's something good that is keeping you away from us, like parties, travels or a job that earns you a hell of a lot of money. And hope you have a minute for us soon!

Anonymous said...

Hope that it's something good that is keeping you away from us, like parties, travels or a job that earns you a hell of a lot of money. And hope you have a minute for us soon!

Anonymous said...

Haste ye back, waffle. It's awfully dull without you in our lives.

FamilyAffairs said...

I hardly dare even put my hand into my bag now. It moves.

snm2rl said...

been a long time! You are beating your own record from April... Miss your witty posts. ....)Happy chocolaty holidays!
all the best!

Anonymous said...

Your absence is starting to worry me - missing your posts!
Merry Christmas,

Marcheline said...

I honestly believe I would buy a pen with "British Gas" on it, and when people asked about it, I'd tell them, "It's what you get after eating pub food."