To pass the time on my daily commute to London I amuse myself a number of ways: wading through a mountain of newspapers; grading ticket inspectors on their demeanour; trying to ensure nobody takes the seat next to me. I also study my fellow passengers, and in doing so have noticed a worrying trend. This new concern of mine applies chiefly to blokes, although I have seen some women guilty of the same charge: Possession of an Oversized Bag. A commuter used to get by with wallet, keys and a mobile phone. These days, it seems, you need a rucksack that would not look out of place on an expedition up Mount Everest.
Remember when a chap carried a briefcase? There was even a time when ultra-thin briefcases were all the rage, so what’s changed?
Many, I’m guessing, now carry laptops, but laptops do not require a backpack to ferry them around. In fact, most of them usually come with their own satchel-type thingy, which you can then stuff all your other odds and ends into. You still don’t need a socking great holdall.
Also, a bag strapped to the back of a bloke in a suit is not a good look. Sixth formers can just about get away with it, but that’s about it. On anyone else it just says ‘Trussed Tortoise’.
I use a canvas satchel. This is perfectly adequate for carrying newspapers, a mini radio with earphones, pens, a pad, a diary, some small cigars and a mobile phone charger. My satchel is slung over the shoulder, weighs relatively little and does not impede my progress – or anyone else’s for that matter.
And this leads me on to my major gripe. I do not really care what people look like with their mammoth carrying kit, or what they keep in it, but I do get grumpy when I have to practically dance in order to dodge those things that some chaps drag around on wheels.
The rolled-up brolly has morphed into a rolling trolley. In London you will see hordes of pinstripe-suited men pulling what is effectively an old lady’s shopping bag behind them, merrily clipping ankles as they trundle.
What these things contain is anyone’s guess, but I’m thinking it must be on a par with the random contents of a woman’s handbag (I once asked Mrs B what was in her capacious handbag and my jaw still slackens at the memory – why would any lady need an adjustable spanner and a tea strainer in their daily kit bag?!)
But I digress. Ultimately this trend for oversized man bags is irritating, bad for your posture and a hazard for your fellow travellers. Bring back the days when all a chap heading to the city needed was his brolly and a bowler hat.