Hazardous handbags: when working mum and mumsy mum collide

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Today wasn’t the first time I accidentally pulled something inappropriate out of my handbag in a meeting. I was aiming for my pen but instead produced a plastic dinosaur.

I have had this conversation with other friends who end up using the same handbag for work and their days at home with the children. It eventually becomes a littered, bulging mess of half-used detritus that was obviously really useful for something (probably). After reading a disturbing article about how the average handbag contains alarming amounts of E.coli, I thought I had better clean mine out. (I can only hope for a bit of E.coli – mine seems to have spawn its own primitive life-form inside it – it truly is a disgrace.) When I finally did clear out my mum/work bag, here is what I found:

  • Half a dinosaur (the other half was thrust aside during said meeting)
  • A stale, half-sucked sandwich
  • Wax crayons (alarmingly, two appear to have been chewed in half by some animate object which I hope was my son rather than a rat/mouse)
  • A sick bag (this has gone back in – I used to carry it in case of nasty hangovers, but now I use them for all sorts of other disgusting emergencies. How my life has changed)
  • A squashed blueberry
  • Some leftover deer/goat food (from the farm)
  • Some antibac (can’t be too careful with deer/goats – or, indeed, this handbag)
  • What I can only hope is a piece of dried mud (not poo)
  • A snail shell (see below)
  • A feather (my toddler seems fascinated with them and clearly wants to keep his finds for a rainy day)
  • Some tissues (half used – yuck)
  • Some sugar (probably from a coffee I didn’t have time to drink)
  • A suspicious off-white residue which I hope is glue or butter
  • A mini tape measure (from a Christmas cracker. In my defence, you’ll be surprised how often you need to measure things and people gasp in awe when they realise I actually have one on me)
  • Some asprin (not for headaches but because I had a dream once that my colleagues Nigel and Pete both had a heart attack at work and we only have one de-fib)
  • Plasters
  • My ID badge (guilty as charged)
  • A charger cable for a phone that I no longer own (but I have kept it in case of needing an emergency snake bite tourniquet, or, more likely, that someone has a Samsung that needs charging one day)
  • A password on a Post-It which I have no recollection what it is for
  • A spare pair of socks (very useful at work, but only if you’re a size 6 toddler)
  • Ten hair bands (I wondered where they had all gone to)
  • A notepad containing my idea for an amazing invention (in the cold light of day, not so amazing)
  • A spare purse (I saw on Crimewatch once that if you carry a spare purse you can give the decoy to a mugger. Luckily for me, one look inside the bag of doom and I think the mugger might be the one running for the hills)


Upon reflection, I seem a little like a kleptomaniac with a cleanliness disorder and a penchant for the dramatic. But, I AM the person you will want around in a crisis. Be it a snake bite, dodgy ticker or just a paper cut – I’ll have the tools to sort you out. My handbag may grow with every year that I age, but by gum I’m much more prepared than when I was 21 (and used to carry around a ridiculous clutch). Yes, I have a laughably large handbag that contains pointless items, but what can I say? I’m a mum, I work, and I worry about other people getting into a crisis. I don’t have time to constantly be swapping bags, so I’ve decided it’s best just to let sleeping bacteria lie.


How innocent it looks from the outside – like butter wouldn’t melt (sadly, inside, it did)


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