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February 27th 2018


“Oh, here it is, in the bottom of my handbag!”

When a young boy, my mother taught me that a man should never look in a lady’s handbag.  She did not offer a reason why this was wrong, and I do not remember asking for an explanation.  I simply accepted that this was a rule that should not be broken, recognising that there were items kept in there that were not for male eyes.  I have grown up, therefore, to think of handbags as being rather mysterious objects and whilst I might occasionally wonder what it is that I am not allowed to see I realise that I do not really want to know in case it is something rather horrific.

I say the above as an introduction to Mary’s handbag; I should qualify this statement by saying her ‘current’ handbag because, although I remember my mother as only ever having one handbag, Mary changes hers frequently for a more expensive model when I can see no external reason (I would never look inside it of course) for retiring the previous one to the handbag cemetery in the loft.  I have come to realise that handbags are just as mysterious to Mary as they are to me, but for a different reason.  In Mary’s case the fascination to her is that anything that she puts in there may disappear only to reappear later.  I can give you any number of examples of this extraordinary occurrence, but I will limit myself to the most recent.

Just yesterday, Mary removed her wristwatch to obey the ‘bare below the elbows’ policy of the NHS police, and put it in her handbag.  Needless to say, when she looked for it later, it had gone.  The Radiology department was put on high alert; work was put on hold whilst everyone searched in all the places that she had been, and many that she had not, but to no avail.  Mary returned home in dismay.  This morning she woke briefly exhilarated until she realised that finding her watch had only been a dream, so I suggested that she needed to accept that it was lost forever and that we should order a replacement online.  Just before pressing the payment button I asked whether a final search of her handbag would be worthwhile.  Muttering beneath her breath that this would obviously be a waste of time, she did so and, lo and behold, the watch was in a side-pocket.  One might expect Mary’s response to finding the object she has ‘lost’ in the place that she clearly put it in the first place to be that of embarrassment, but it is not.  Rather, a look of wonder and delight crosses her face as she realises that her handbag has, once again, returned a lost item to her.



  © Copyright Thomas Jackson 2010