Saturday, August 28, 2010


We've been back to work for two weeks but the students don't arrive till Monday, so there have been a lot of meetings. I am not a fan of meetings. I sit doodling. This may be the reason why I have not risen to the heights of senior management, although another reason would be that I haven't applied for any such posts.

The meeting gave my colleague time to notice someone's handbag.

Afterwards she told us that this handbag was a Mulberry. "And I happen to know," she said, "that it costs £795."


How did she know? Because she'd bought her daughter just the same handbag as a graduation present.


Now, I was vaguely aware that such expensive items existed because I occasionally glance at the Style section of the Sunday Times. But I assumed that only models and film stars had so much money to spend on things like that. It never occurred to me that I might have met someone - two someones - who bought them.

You'd think that, having reached the age of 60 (yes, I know; hard to believe), I'd not be surprised by anything much. Wrong.

As I gaped and WHAT???ed, my colleagues reminded me of the sum spent by our family recently at the vet hospital on treatment for our daughter and son-in-law's two guinea pigs. Yes, it wasn't much less. And some people in the world would see a guinea pig as more of an hors d'oeuvre than a suitable destination for one's savings. But at least I realised even at the time that this was somewhat deranged behaviour. It's just that the young folk love their pets and my son-in-law suffers from depression and it seemed worth keeping him on an even keel.

My colleague had to order this handbag for her daughter from a posh shop. Then one day someone phoned from this shop and said that the handbag had come in and she could have it if she could be there to pick it up in ten minutes. Otherwise it might be sold to another customer.

My handbag, a neat little black cloth affair from Marks and Spencers, cost £7. I thought this was a good buy. Maybe I don't understand fashion.


  1. I'm constantly amaazed at the price of such designer items - and like you, trudge along quite happily with the chain store alternatives (usually picked up in a sale!). It's all relative I suppose, I know I would be more likely to fork out on vet's fees and can't imagine my daughter wanting such a costly gift anyway. More likely is the choice would be removed from my hands by some household necessity needing the money!

  2. Clearly you don't understand fashion, Isabelle. Be relieved. Be very relieved.

  3. You are normal, I assure you. Or at least, you are like me (which may or may not be the same thing!) I possess one handbag at a time which I use until it dies and then I buy a new one. I will spend up to the heady heights of about £35 for mine because I need a huge bag to cart around all the umbrellas and books and other assorted junk I don't seem to be able to function without. The idea of spending almost £800 on a bag makes me feel slightly faint. Think of the books you could buy with that!

  4. When I read about such enormous costs - which would bear very little relation to the actual costs of manufacture and marketing, it is easy to think there are those in the world who have absolutely no sense of proportion, let alone common sense. Occasionally I look at shoe shops, not to buy, but to allow myself to be totally outraged at the stupid heels and the astronomic costs.
    Although I must admit I have bought my handbags in Florence, and I keep one in reserve. I use the same handbag all the time, a plain soft black leather. A friend, who seemed to buy a new handbag every week at the local market, seems to change her handbag daily, according to what she is wearing.

  5. Shocking what some people will spend on nonsense! But so much more interesting than your meeting's agenda, undoubtedly......Will this be your last year teaching or do you have several more to go? Either way I wish you a good one!

  6. Nodding and agreeing with all of you. Anyone who has that much money to spend on a handbag has more money than sense (even if it is a gift - apologies to M).
    I have a dozen or so bags that I change to suit what I'm wearing, but only occasionally. My daily 'bag' is a denim shoulder bag which I call my 'office' because it holds purse, diary, mobile phone, address book, makeup, keys, tissues, etc. ALL of them cost less than A$5 at various opshops.

  7. I don't understand it either. I'd much rather spend the money on a much loved pet that needs help.

  8. Some people clearly live in a very different world.


    though if my daughter makes it TO university and all te way to graduation, heck, i might even buy her a CAR. Or even a silly handbag!

    Anyway, meetings are for doodling, what else? I do lovely drawings in meetings....

  10. Wouldn't it be AWFUL if you'd spent all that money on a bag and people didn't recognise the brand name - or if the brand name had become out-moded overnight? Life on the cutting edge! How exhausting.

  11. Sheppitsgal5:32 pm

    Oh dear me. I don't think I've spent that much on handbags even if you add up all the bags I've bought, EVER!

    Is it not possible to buy insurance for guinea pigs? I would not have been without insurance for my poor pussy cat, the premiums paid for themselves in those last few months. Might be worth a thought x

  12. Clearly not!I have a brand-new, much needed, wonderful leather wallet.Cost me nothing, unwanted gift to my daughter.That's what I call a outlay, no shoppig or having to choose.
    My priorities for spending are on things like gates, bales of straw and the occassional flannie.
    However there are occassions when I get scrubbed up to go to the ballet, a wedding or some such event and enjoy the contrast.

  13. Linda9:24 am

    At the risk of being shouted down, I'm afraid that I do understand. I'm not into fashion generally, but well made shoes and handbags - yes. Sorry!
    I've never been able to spend that much money on a bag, but I have a strong 'construction' gene, inherited from builders and shoemakers way back, and enjoy making sculpture. It lets me appreciate the design and skill that goes into some of these items, assess their functionality and design, and covet the beautiful leathers. The smell is wonderful, and the quality ensure they will last 20 years and more, with care.
    We seem to have no problem understanding why people (men?) like well designed cars, and enjoy the luxury they provide. It's the same with lots of other large products.
    Why would we not want something beautifully made for ourselves?

  14. The guinea pigs were definitely less expensive than the handbag by a couple of hundred pounds. And that was for two of them. And it was worth it, because they both got better (I have one on my lap now, being cute and furry and interfering slightly with my typing, but hey).

    I wouldn't like to have such an expensive bag. Or anything, really. I might lose it, or someone would steal it.

  15. oh god, I know... I could live on that for two months... and even when I had a lucrative job there is no way on this earth I'd spend that much on a bag!!! I have a friend tho who falls for such designer items (especially bags) from time to time, usually in sales when they are about half price, which still seems exorbitant and unnecessary to me!... in fact she has a Mulberry overnight bag... i definitely don't understand fashion!

  16. Isn't it amazing how different we all are? I can barely bring myself to even buy a handbag because I think if I make it I will save so much money. Which totally isn't true -- I always end up spending more.

    Loved K's comment.

    And welcome to my meeting world. Every frippin' day. It's AWFUL and I'm so stranger to the well-placed drooping eyelids!

  17. Hello!

    Yes, I did read your comment on Loth's post. I'd love to welcome you to the land of the locked down blog. Just pop me an email and I'll get you added.


  18. I thought Coach bags were expensive. They are, but not THAT much. I do have two leather Coach bags (one black, one brown)that were probably purchased in the 70/80's and I use them all the time. They are good leather and scratches can be buffed out or any small repairs made by a good shoe shop. I like classic things.


  19. I mustn't understand fashion either. I watched a recent programme about rip off handbags, which of course, sell for far less than the originals.
    I fail to believe a simple item such as a handbag could be worth over AUD$2,000!