Thursday May 19, 2005
It was going to be no more than a quick dash into the town centre before going on to Tesco’s for a five-day provisioning. Note that ‘going to be’. What’s that thing about the best laid plans?
The diversion was all my own silly fault, and I blame no-one for it.
“Can we look in the window of the country gentleman and ladies?” I asked. “I want to see if they have anything in the way of decent bags there.”
“You really don’t like that IKEA bag, do you?”
“Hate it. Fiddly to use, painful little clasps, and it’s getting grubby already.”
“Just as well it only cost a fiver, then.”
“That’s my only consolation.”
“Right. We’re not going to quit until we’ve found you one you can live with.”
So, to the country gentleman and ladies outfitters. Very nice, very upmarket, and they had one bag that would have been an improvement, but not enough of an improvement. And horrendously expensive.
“I think I’d like to look in the angler’s supplies shop before I make my mind up,” I said.
The trouble with the angler’s supplies shop is that, while they have good bags, hats and stuff, they serve you over a glass counter that’s populated with six big open plastic boxes, heaving with maggots. Maggots of all colours and types. You’d never realize there was an art to the maggot if you didn’t go to the angler’s supplies shop.
Anyway, they had a bag there that seemed quite close to my requirements, big enough to carry my stuff. Made in a nice, soft canvas, rather like a school satchel in design and that was the problem. It had school satchel style leather straps and buckles instead of velcro or twist fasterners. Sometimes, when my fingers are cold, I have real problems with straps and buckles. And it was a little pseudo-military, too. I’m uneasy with the suitability of pseudo-military things for older men.
“Is there anywhere else that sells bags?” I asked. “I don’t think I’m quite ready to make my mind up yet.”
Graham thought for a moment. “I know,” he said. “Let’s try Oldrids. They have a big luggage department.”
And off we strolled in the general direction of Oldrid’s department store. How to describe Oldrid’s department store? It must have been rather like Grace Bros., in Are you being served? once upon a time but it has updated itself in place over the years and is now a really decent place to buy all the things you used to get in such prestigious establishments. They do, too, have a luggage department. And bags. Lots of bags. Bags like you’ve never seen, leave alone thought of. I was in heaven, and in hell, all in one. Talk about being spoiled by too much choice.
I started trying bag after bag after bag. Graham soon tired of the ‘how about this one’ game, and wandered off to look at sports clothing, leaving me to work my way along the displays. I was just at the point where my legs were starting to persuade me that perhaps the IKEA bag would do for a bit longer after all when I spotted a display of Samsonite luggage, just round the corner, and there was the perfect bag. Right size for all the stuff I need to carry about with me, even the Fuji camera that gets left at home far too often. Nice, soft black leather. Good, comfortable shoulder strap. Sensible, stout zip fasteners on the pockets, with handles I can grasp and slide without any problem at all. The only snag was the price. I gulped at the price.
Seeking reassurance, I took it across the floor to where Graham was looking at someone or other’s polo shirts.
“Oh, that’s nice,” he said. “And you’ve always been happy with Samsonite in the past.”
“It’s a bit pricey.”
“Don’t be silly. It’ll last for years and years. Think Captain Grimes’s boots.”
“Ah,” I said. “You’re right.”
And off I trotted to the ‘please pay here’ counter to flash the plastic at a gel-haired young man who seemed to have left the bulk of his brain cells at the disco the night before.
Then it was Graham’s turn, and the actual reason for our side-trip into town. He needed some stuff of the keep-young-and-beautiful kind in Superdrugs.
In no time at all we were in Costa Coffee, sipping good hot coffee. I was clutching my new bag in its plastic carrier bag.
“Tell you what,” Graham said, wiping the froth from his lip. “Why don’t you transfer your stuff into the new bag now and then we can dump the IKEA bag in the nearest trash can.”
“Don’t be silly. I shall sell it on eBay.”
“You can’t do that. It’s a piece of junk.”
“You just watch me. You really don’t get the eBay thing, do you? One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Too right I am, chooky-boots. It’s the way of eBay.”
Back home I started the job of packing up my new bag, carefully and thoughtfully. Needs a lot of care and thought does packing a new bag. Then I sponged off the old one and got it ready for an eBay photograph and listing on Saturday.
“Actually,” Graham said. “That looks rather good. And IKEA bags are becoming a bit of a fashion statement these days. Perhaps it really will sell.”
“Right. Now you’re getting to understand the way of eBay.”
|New bag, old bag