Pantechnicon in Training

Sue’s Bag

Still life with Handbag and Corporate Access Pass


Canadian blogger Her Bad Mother recently posted the contents of her handbag and invited readers to do likewise. Which got me thinking about the sad state of my bag and how I am not one of those women who carry pocket Kama Sutras or silk scarves or Japanese blotting tissue at all times.

Instead, I am one of a long line of women who carry a far more practical bag. With the bare essentials. And at least a year’s worth of gum wrappers, passed doctor’s appointment cards and old shopping lists scribbled on scrunched-up post-its.

Not much different from my mother’s or maternal grandmother’s handbags really. Except that Granny Sylvia always carried a roll of Triple-X mints and Mom’s bag weighed a bit heavier with that bunch of keys — a Fort Knox-like fistful of keys befitting the manageress of one of Durban’s larger branches of the Permanent Building Society.

Yes, our women folk believe in purses that are up to the job. Purses of solid brown or black with sturdy handles. And when my mother refers to her bag as “The Pantechnicon” she isn’t kidding.

Without further a do, the contents of my handbag:



  1. Pile of doctor notes, post-its, and a monthly statement for the store card I’ve been meaning to cancel because I don’t use it.
  2. Wad of calling cards we got made not too long after we moved here (free from Vista Print). Thought they would come in handy when we met new people but since then we’ve changed our web address and ISP, and my work phone number is no longer current. Why do I still carry these?
  3. No-tear hair elastic. Usually have a couple of these in my bag, and some in my gym bag, and some in the bathroom cupboard and around the handles of several doors at home, because nothing annoys me more than wanting to go to the gym or take a shower and not being able to find an elastic band for my hair.
  4. My purse – which is the word Americans use for handbag. What-evah! Number 4 is what the rest of the English-speaking world calls a purse — the smaller wallet thingy in which you keep money and credit cards and your driver’s license and photos of your children. (And how cute is that photo of my kid?)
  5. My cell phone. Just so not an iPhone it’s not even funny!
  6. Small hairbrush with yet another hair elastic wrapped around the handle. Never enough of those.
  7. Apple does its marketing well enough that I don’t need to tell you what this is. Except to add that Dave bought it for me one birthday when I asked for a CD player for my car. He figured I could use this in the car as well as at work and in the gym and while walking the neighborhood. And this would all be true if only I remembered to charge the dang thing regularly and take it out of my bag whenever I get in the car … and actually use it.
  8. My Root Beer Oakleys. Love my Root Beer Oakleys. Yes, I am a one-handbag, one-pair-of-sunglasses kinda gal.
  9. Pretty pack of tissues given to me by the owner of a gift store in Portland recently when I bought an equally pretty glass necklace, among other items. She forgot to charge me for the necklace and when I returned to pay for it, she threw in the pack of tissues to thank me for coming back in the rain.
  10. Red Cross barrier for doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, should I ever have the pleasure. Two questions: Will I ever have the guts to do that for someone who needs it? And if I do, will I even think or bother to painstakingly pull the mask out of its tiny pouch and spread it between the poor victim’s mouth and mine?
  11. Burts Bees lip salve (lip ice for the South Africans reading). The one thing in my bag that I cannot go a day without.
  12. My make-up bag. Very proud of this bag at the moment. I have just replaced all of my make up. Long overdue, and it’s amazing the difference new cosmetics make to your mood in the mornings.

Not in my purse at the time the picture was taken? My keys with their pretty turquoise beaded chameleon key chain. (Much smaller than my mother’s set of keys.) And the silicone nipple shield I found tucked away in a zippered compartment just a month or two ago. Almost a year after weaning Tau. I really should clean out my bag more often!


7 responses to “Pantechnicon in Training

  1. I bought a gadget called an iTrip at Radio Shack that plugs into my car’s cigarette lighter and plays my iPod over the car speakers and charges it at the same time. I can’t live without it now!

    And I can’t live without my Burt’s Bees lippy either.

  2. looks pretty organized and efficient to me. I should send you some blotting papers. Then you’d feel fancy. :)

  3. Ha! I have less things than that! My wallet, lipstick, a pen and my iPhone. Oh, and my entry swipe card for the building tucked in the zipper.

    I hate cluttery purses. I have issues.

  4. Me, I’m a multi-purse gal. Mostly because I hate carrying two bags, so I have a teeny “handbag” inside my laptop bag. I do this because if I just kept the “purse” (wallet) tucked into the laptop bag, when I go grab lunch it would become a “clutch” — and who needs that. On the weekends of course I need more stuff, so I swap bags — typically to a backpack, or a side pocket of Lane’s diaper bag. Or to a cuter handbag, if I’m so inclined, to go with a snazzy pair of sunglasses. :)

  5. What I find funny, is how our bags — and bagging solutions — are so in keeping with our personalities.

  6. Watch this space….
    As the originator of “The Pantechnicon”, I feel the need to share the contents if my purse / handbag with you girls. But as I have no Blog of my own, I will duly photograph and itemise the items and mail them to my daughter, who may then post it if she so wishes.

  7. My hall closet is full of handbags (purses…um… well you know) and I switch around a lot. Now that I am back in the full-time working world, however, I always use a black one that is big enough to fit the usual stuff (wallet, keys, phone, at least 4 lip items, pens, tissues) and at least one book. I prefer a smaller bag but now that I have time to read normal (non-law) books I never want to be without one.

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