Readers of this blog will be familiar with my penchant for bags. Bags of all sizes, for any purpose, as long as they’re black. So strange. So specific.
Anyway, my urge to remove needless objects from my life has found yet another focus: the bags. Please note this isn’t based on any kind of philosophical viewpoint, rather intense rage that every time I open the cupboard to get a bag, I receive an avalanche of leather and plastic in my face.
Let’s be specific: I’m talking about the non-luggage. The everyday bags. The bags that fit the items you don’t want to stuff into your trousers and coat pockets. The bags I use to bring stuff to work. The bags that come with me on jaunts into the West End (remember those?) and the bags that come on board flights to delicious destinations (see above).
Back in the distant past, I had a thing for Jack Spade bags. They came in such pretty colours and seemed made to outlast the apocalypse. They were all sold on eBay, with a surprising absence of emotion. But really, it was necessary. We live in a smallish London apartment, which can either be a living space for two adult males or a showroom for high end bags and luggage. But not both.
After reducing my bag collection to what I believed was acceptable, it slowly crept up again. Out of sight, out of mind, plus various Christmas and birthday gifts. No need. Absolutely no need for these additional bags, save my preference to use different bags for different trips. The stink of variety once again.
Time for a change
So here I am once again staring down the barrel of bag overwhelm – but this time I have a plan. After once again receiving bags-to-the-face-from-a-height, I committed to removing the mountain. I’ve actually been unsatisfied with bags I got in the last 18 months, but didn’t really do anything about it, owing to…well, you know. There’s nothing like a global pandemic and lockdown situation to support any procrastination lingering in the back of my mind.
My bags suppler du jour, Bellroy, has made everything easier for me by bringing out new models of the bags I’m unhappy with. No hear me out – this could sound like an elaborate plan to buy more bags. But I guarantee that I’ll have fewer bags – far fewer – by the time my plan is executed.
I bought a couple of lovely tote bags from Bellroy and just fell in love with them, despite two glaring problems. Firstly, one of them doesn’t actually close, making it a prime target for theft. And I live in London, remember. Secondly, the other one does zip up and is beautifully designed…for a much taller person. While I love it, carrying it around makes me look even shorter than I am. I’m like a child carrying an adult-sized tote.
I’m selling both of these on eBay and replacing them with a new model that both zips up and is smaller. Bellroy claim it’s designed for ‘smaller frames’, but we both know that’s code for ‘hobbit’. The significantly shorter straps mean it’s suitable for carrying like a normal person.
Secondly, I’m selling my newly-acquired Melbourne backpack. It’s a delight, but has a glaring flaw: under any kind of pressure, the flap that keeps it closed springs open. It’s a magnetic seal, so is prone to opening where a zip or lock wouldn’t. Again, I live in London and take public transport. I don’t want to make it even easier for the miscreants to reach into my bag and take what they like.
Thirdly, I’m selling a much older Bellroy backpack (last used to cart cans of beer for outdoor drinking) as it too is a little too much like a adult-sized bag on a hobbit-sized man. I’m combining the proceeds from these two backpack sales to purchase the new version of this backpack which is, you guessed it, ‘designed for smaller frames’.
A simpler bag equation
So this will leave me with the grand total of one tote and one backpack. I hope you’ll agree, that’s a significant reduction. Probably more than most people own, I’ll grant you. And, raising my hands with that universal sign of ‘I know what you’re going to say’, I’d also add that I have multiple pieces of luggage for both short-haul and long-haul travel. These may be slowly sold off, depending on the value of business travel I return to once travel restrictions are over.
(I honestly can’t see myself returning to the frantic business travel of the past, so this is kind of inevitable.)
But in addition to solving the bags-in-the-face problem, it will also help me avoid losing small possessions. I’ll go to look for AirPods, or a travel pass, or a set of keys, or a notebook and then have to wonder which of the many, many bags I own it’s secreted in. With two bags to my name, this won’t be a problem anymore.
Two bags. Now there’s a concept.