Just a paper bag, brown, crumpled, ripped in places, tired and well used, scrunched tightly together at the top, creating a neck in which to hold the seemingly innocuous sac. Placed carefully on the bedside table, a breeze from the window behind brushed past; a brief rustling of wrapping awoke me from a light afternoon nap. Suddenly I looked up, making sure the bag was still in-situ, moving my hand, touching, tapping, stroking it; a sigh of relief, it was safe, unmoved, untouched, safely by my side!
A red glow filtered calmly through the window, dancing majestically off the wardrobe doors, illuminating the newly installed Star Wars wallpaper on the left hand side of the room. My eyes slowly opened, focusing on C3PO, whose golden glow shone flamboyant red, the room illuminated with colour. Eyes averted, the paper bag lit up, like a fire burning bright, slowly awaking me from my slumber. It was time to rise, and get ready to go to Nanny’s house, a short walk away. I stretched upwards, firmly above my head, unceremoniously dropping my left arm, crashing down onto the bed below, accidentally knocking the bag to the floor. Panic ensued as I feverishly, frantically tried to find it; finally located lodged between the bed and the bedside table, trapped upside down, contents spilling over the floor!
I jumped down onto the carpet, running my hand under the divan, urgently determined to find my most ‘precious things.’ Heirlooms, treasures that meant everything, items I took with me wherever I went, stored safely in my brown paper bag, were now tumbling all over the floor! My cheek pressed firmly against the felt base of the bed, I tried to push my arm further, deeper into the dark, moving it, right to left, flicking out whatever was inside. A half eaten packet of Opal Fruits, an unopened tube of spangles, some Black Jacks I had been saving for later and my tiny orange cat, no bigger than my thumb, part of my farmyard, usually stored in the airing cupboard in the hall.
Mum shouted upstairs .’What’s all the noise? What are you doing? We are going out in a minute, hurry up and come downstairs!’
‘I’ll be their, stop going on, I’m just getting my things!’ I replied, still searching furiously for the contents of the bag.
Finally, out popped a Parker Pen, that Aunt Susan had given me for Christmas and a Wade Whimsie Giraffe, that I always had with me, despite falling over in the street with it a few weeks before, cutting open my finger as I fell. Earless, chipped and scuffed the little china animal was a special friend, someone to talk to when there was no one and my first purchase from the Post Office, with some Birthday money from Nan.
Some string, old shiny Quality Street wrappers, a handful of marbles, two conkers and a pair of blue woollen mittens held together with string, completed the collection. Quickly I put them back into the carrier and cautiously made my way downstairs, holding tightly onto the banister, not wanting a repeat performance.
I held onto the bag even more tightly than usual, as we walked into Nan’s, pressing it hard into my hip. Even when Mum took off my duffle coat, I wouldn’t let go, the pouch passing up my sleeve, following my arm. As Mum pulled the coat over my head, I spied Nan from the corner of my eye, chuckling ever so slightly - ‘A handbag, he always has a handbag, that’s our boy, the boy with the bag!’
Nan always said she knew I was gay, because of the 'minaudière' I carried, it was a kind of family joke. Of course it has nothing to do with my sexuality, but it is a memory of a childhood I would relive again tomorrow. My Nan is no longer here, the bag and contents long since gone, but the memories are still burning strong, recollections important, special, so clear! Cherished moments stored tightly, the real reason all of us belong!
47 year old Author, Columnist and Blogger.