So my question is: has anyone else noticed the slow, stealthy rise of The Bags. Here we are worrying about all sorts of catastrophes from climate change, to Brexit, to Trump, to the return of 80s fashion, and all the while, the real danger is right in front of our faces.
The bags are coming.
I admit I’ve been among the legions of unaware. But now I have moved from north London to St Albans, and there is no hiding from the truth: the bags are making a move.
Last week, my daughters and I were travelling every day from St Albans back to West Hampstead for a drama course booked in that pre-summer holiday panic, before we knew we were ditching life in the big smoke for life in the little smoke. Every day, we got on the train, and every day we marvelled at how bags of all shapes and sizes — from spindly shopping bags, to leather handbags, totes, computer bags, and rucksacks — were placed regally on seats, while mere humans crowded the aisles, like dour, rush-hour serfs. I suppose at least our new rulers seem very inclusive. No bag is excluded, even Aldi bags get the royal treatment.
Now, the bags have no tickets (And by the way, what is with the prices? Does everyone outside London sell their kidneys to fund their travel? Oh, how naive I was. I miss my Oyster.) And yet, there they sit, those elite bags, slouched casually towards the windows, or comfortably spreading out across the seats, no doubt bag-giggling at the plight of the humans standing up.
There have been other signs over the years, but of course, I missed them.
When we lived in Kenya, I used to put my handbag on the floor at restaurants, or parties, and the locals would tell me not to — that it was bad luck. Some ladies — the ones wearing outfits not clothes, with perfect hair, just-done nails, and beautiful shoes — even had these little hook-things that you could fasten to the edge of the table and then hang your bag from. They may have had a point. Once, a waiter tripped over my badly placed, squidgy handbag, and stood on it as he tried to find his footing, neatly destroying my iPod with his heel. Was I the victim of a cosmic force that watches from the sky to wreak havoc on anyone who dares leave a Bag on the ground? Or simply a ninny who left her iPod unprotected in a bag that only a mother could love?
In all seriousness, people, move your bags! I don’t want to live in a society where people put bags on the train seats and then deliberately look away as new passengers get on, staring in fixed wonder at the stationary scenery outside. Move the bags, already. (Shout out, though, to the young lady who gave her seat to my daughter, and then sat on her large, solid suitcase in the aisle. That’s the way to treat a bag.)
Here’s an idea — put the bags in those things above your head. See them. They’re called luggage racks, and bags are luggage. Yes, they are, no matter how much you may want to think otherwise, no matter how much you worry that their feelings might be hurt. They are luggage and that is where they belong. You will survive for the duration of a train journey without your bag. If you must, take out your phone, and book (who am I kidding?), before you stow the bags away.
My husband — his eyes glazing as I wound up a 40-minute rant — said I just needed to ask people to move their bags (and while we’re at it, to maybe move in to the window seat so that other people can sit down without clambering over your knees as you glare furiously? Yes, I know you want to sit alone. Yes, I know we don’t like human contact in this country, but I live a 40-minutes’ walk from the station and my feet are sore). But wouldn’t it be a much smilier, happier, unicorn-ier world if people moved their bags first?
My other great discovery during this time of mammoth transitions in our family life (as well as moving, I’ve stopped “working” full-time to stay at home, mind the girls and write my next book. Sometimes, I also threaten to home-school them, just for kicks. Don’t judge me – I live in the ‘burbs) is that all removal men and other handymen take two sugars in their tea. It’s a thing. I think Jamie Oliver needs to get on this.