No halfway house with handbags

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You get to work.

You switch your computer on. And while you guide it towards life with one hand, the other plonks your handbag on your knee and begins to probe its lovely leather depths.

Past the bills, under the cosmetics bag and on through the old tissues, the discount vouchers, the bits you cut out of magazines it goes, searching like a mole in a hole. For glasses. Your phone. A pen. Another one that actually works. That Must Do On Monday reminder note you wrote in bed on Sunday night.

Then you search for your glasses again because you’ve forgotten they were the first thing you fished out and because you haven’t got them on, you can’t see them.

This morning ritual, it drives the boys mad. They think I can’t sense them gritting their teeth, silently willing me to stop that confounded rootling.

Last week, one could take it no longer. “They ought to make handbag-rummaging a national sport,” he said, in a manner that told me his wife is also a fan of handbags into which she can get every single thing she thinks she might possibly need for the next month or three.

Roomy handbags are so handy. Often, more so than a man. There they are, by your side always, a portable extension of home proffering all manner of emergency supplies; headache tablets, plasters, spare tights, spare shoes, teabag, cuppa soup, cuddly toy; it’s Dr Seuss meets the Generation Game conveyor belt in there.

The constant scrabbling for the one thing we need, from 101 potentials, does irritate us, too. But what else can we do when men selfishly refuse to carry handbags?

If they would see sense, a woman’s right shoulder would cease to have a groove in it and no longer would she walk at a list. Half of what she deems all-essential could go in HIS bag.

I say ‘she’ because it’s no good leaving it up to him. He thinks ‘vital’ means only keys, wallet and handkerchief. Even Swiss army knives were dispensed with years ago.

Though have you noticed how on holiday, other vitals, like the camera, the map, the guide book and the holiday money end up in YOUR bag?

Yet on the rare occasions when we ask them to return the favour – because we have had to trade our faithful big bag for one that will barely take a lippie and a credit card – they get grumpy and complain about your glasses case ruining the line of their jacket, or start a debate on how often lipglosses spring a leak.

By the way, men, I must explain that we do not downsize on a whim. Neither is it done to confuse and vex you. Many of the things we do might be to that aim, but not this.

See, when it comes to bags, there is no halfway house; medium-sized ones look too Queenie, too much like the ones your grandma had fluffy humbugs in and that cotton hankie she spat on and rubbed your face with.

And there are times when the outfit dictates. If you’ve got your gladrags on, only the teeniest and most glamorous accessory will do. Honestly, you’re lucky we take you.