Small bags were all the rage at the recent spring/summer fashion shows. Handbag titans Hermes came up with a tiny box bag, no longer than a standard classroom ruler. Valentino, meanwhile, showed off minuscule chain-strapped pockets, of a size more appropriate for holding charm bracelets than a copy of The Goldfinch.
The fashionistas have got the right idea by scaling things back (even if it means, sadly, there has been an increase in handbag-sized pooches being sent to rescue centres). But I’ve pushed things even further and ditched my back completely. And it’s wonderful. I have been liberated.
In the past few weeks I have left my orange leather tote at home and, as a result, I have been striding unburdened to the Tube. For the first time in my life, I’ve been getting there early. In one pocket I carry a small purse. In the other, my phone and keys. In my hand, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (I may be trailblazer when it comes to bags, but I’m behind the literary times). I don’t need an accounts book-worth of receipts. I don’t need three lipsticks. Or two mascaras – both have run out. I don’t need my laptop charger. I don’t even need my laptop. My phone will do fine. Last night’s socks should be in the wash.
Without a bag, I am now empowered. And, blissfully, my shoulders are free. They no longer curl over my chest. They sit back proud. My neck is straight. No need to worry about my trapezius muscle (handbags put pressure on it, causing headaches) or the grime I am carting around (a study last year found that there is more bacteria in a handbag than on an average loo seat).
Surprisingly, it seems not many other people have discovered the freedom that comes with ditching their bag. No one travels without one, it seems. And so many are monstrous in size. I pity the poor women swaying under the strain of huge handbags, while men, too, have become wedded to their bags. Gym holdalls and rucksacks have become essential items. As trains draw into every station there is a collective sway. Bags pull one way. The train pulls the other. Me? I’m able to just bounce off. I head for the office with a smile. No lead weight to squeeze through the door with. No papers falling out onto the floor. I get to my desk and I put my book on down. In short, I am feeling more than a little smug.