Getting off the train this morning I was surpised to see not one but three men carrying what can only accurately be described as handbags. Not the latest, must-have number from Mulberry admittedly, but handbags none-the-less. I knew that the fashion pages had been banging on about man-bags for the last but I was pretty confident that whatever nonsense might go on on the continent, the Anglo-Saxon male would hold out against this trend to the very last ditch. Yet here they were, three otherwise unremarkably dressed blokes, each of them demonstrating a different strategy to disguise the fact that they were, in fact, carrying the last word in girly accessories.
Bloke number one had gone for the ‘if it’s big enough I can call it a record/courier/document bag’ approach – a large size shoulder bag with a big, butch flap that could just about accommodate a handful of LPs. Cycle couriers have been getting away with this for years partly because nobody wants to argue with cycle couriers, but mainly because their bags are scruffy black nylon whereas this one was beautifully hand-tooled leather. Hang it over my shoulder and it’s a handbag. Hang it over his – well maybe there’s a little room for doubt. Bloke number two was going for the army surplus look – khaki canvas with dangly webbing straps and buckles and very masculine it was too. But still a handbag. It had a shoulder strap, it was barely big enough for mobile phone and a tube of lipstick. Paint it pink and there would be no argument: handbag. Sorry mate. And bloke number three was trying the ‘if I carry it in a manly way maybe I won’t get laughed at down the pub’ look. This one really did look exactly like a handbag, the sort of thing the Queen might keep her glasses in, or a spare corgi. It had a shoulder strap, but he wasn’t using it and had instead opted to tuck the whole thing under his arm as though to disassociate himself from it entirely, thereby removing the whole point of a handbag which is that you can hang your entire life off your shoulder and forget about it (or in my case, just the last part).
Personally I’m all for this trend and long may it continue. But guys, have the courage of your convictions. Be men, and carry your bags with pride. And one day maybe we will be the ones to stroll around unencumbered by anything but a bunch of keys and a handkerchief while you bring up the rear with all our belongings as well as yours stuffed into your capacious handbag.
Train update: 12 minutes late this evening after a go slow from Kew Bridge to Clapham Junction. And someone had decided the carriage would both look and smell better if it was scattered with chips. Friday nights – don’t you just love them?