Friday, February 24, 2006

My Mum’s handbag

…….sounds like a good name for a band, doesn’t it? Almost up there with my brother’s suggestion of ‘Dogs in Cars’.

One of the biggest fashion trends seen these days is due to the endless photos of fat-lipped stick insect starlets going shopping whilst holding a 44 gallon takeaway coffee cup in one hand and a tote bag big enough to sleep in looped over their painfully thin wrists.

Apart from SUV keys, platinum credit cards and their oversized sunglasses case, these bags are most definitely not being used to hold anything like food, literature or a nice woolly jumper in case the weather turns cold later on. Be that as it may, it reminded me of my Mum’s handbag. No no no, she was never a coked-up starving skank wearing a sequined swimsuit but her handbag was a vital part of her, a piece of equipment that she never left the house without.

As a teenager, I used to love teasing her about it. “Hey Mum, the table in this café’s a bit wobbly. Do you think you can reach into your bag and find a saw to even up the legs, heh heh heh.” Clearly not appreciating my sophisticated teenage humour, she’d frown in thought and invariably answer, “Hmm, let me see….. (rummage rummage). I’ll tell you what I do have – the program from the local Music Players Society’s ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ that your father and I went to last Friday night. I’ll fold that up a few times and put it underneath – that will stop the wobbling.” And it did.

When she and Dad came over to Melbourne to visit Love Chunks and myself several years ago, I was still suffering from morning – no, make that All Day sickness. She came with me to Northland to check out a few maternity clothes and baby equipment, and all of a sudden the coffee in the food hall started to smell like bat dung and the room started spinning. “Come here and sit down,” she said kindly. “Grab hold of this and take a few deep breaths,” she continued, handing me an air sickness bag she’d pulled out from her new mock-croc hold-all.

In the late eighties, I was mortified to discover that my sloppy chopstick skills had resulted in a few bright orange chili sauce splatters down my front. How was I going to look even remotely professional at my job interview in twenty minutes’ time? It was Mum’s Handbag to the Rescue again. It miraculously conjured up a rather nice silk scarf that draped over the offending stains, hiding them completely. She also rather tactfully offered me some breath mints, “They might not have had garlic with their lunch like you have.”

Countless times my marvelous mother would be able to produce a much-needed object from the leather lifesaving device in the nick of time. Such gear included sugar cubes, scissors (not nail scissors either), serviettes, a folded waterproof poncho, coffee sachets, teabags, toothbrush and toothpaste, stingose spray, three different brands of mints, needle, thread and buttons, safety pins, SPF30+ sunblock lotion, biscuits, hand wipes, bandages, painkillers, chocolates, a hand-held paper fan and instant soup sachets. This was of course in addition to the usual things found in a handbag – make up, purse, keys, comb, monthly stuff and a pen!

This preparedness for anything – and immediate assistance for others – was achieved via a handbag that would be one quarter the size of those carried around by today’s fashion victims. Each bag she used must have been modeled on Dr Who’s time traveling tardis and therefore have been considerably larger on the inside. You would think that Mum’s magic bag would have been an inspiration to me, but it only served to intimidate – how could I, a female with the grace and physique of a warthog, ever be able to make her proud? Hence, it was just easier to not ever own a handbag. Instead, I used to prefer the Kitchen Sink Approach, and lug everything around with me in a backpack. Let’s face it; you never know when you might need your running shoes, the slim tome ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth or a golf umbrella.

However in early 2005 it was time to finally buy a handbag. The big black backpack looked a wee bit too bulky when worn with floaty peasant skirts to meetings. And, surprisingly, the Tardis-Effect had in fact been passed down from mother to daughter. Lo and behold – “Don’t worry about the mud on Ned’s face, Deb – I’ve got a traveler’s pack of wipes in my ……. Handbag!”
“Are you hungry, Sapphire? Well, (rummage rummage), I’ve got some musk rollers, a muesli bar and a chup-a-chup, so take your pick.”
“You poor thing. Sit down, and I’ll get you a panadol. I’ve also got some water to wash it down with and a spare pair of sunnies if the light’s too bright…..”

My tardis-toting fame has spread. Well, around the school and neighbourhood communities at least. “Go ask Aunt MillyMoo, she might have a computer screen cleaner / tube of fake tan / fruit knife / tennis ball that she can spare.”
What a relief: this chunky little nectarine didn’t fall too far from the tree after all.

My Mum's Handbag

1 comment:

xianfu said...

hmmm... "p... nice blog here...with the thoughts