Saturday, 10 March 2012

A Handbag?

This morning I saw a driving license, one of the pink ones with a photograph, lying neatly on a raised bit of stone underneath some railings on Frederick Street.  It was clear that some kind passerby had picked up the licence, which must have been dropped, and placed it there where it would be easily spotted but out of harm's way.  I looked at the pleasant, open face in the photograph and wondered how long it would be before the young woman it belonged to realised she had lost this particular proof of her identity.

We are all, we are told, in constant danger of identity theft; vulnerable to card cloning, hacking, worms, trojans, scams and skims--never mind good old fashioned robbery.  Evidently women are particularly vulnerable to that last risk, inclined as we are to carry our lives round in our handbags--concentrating all sorts of valuable personal information in one convenient place.   And of course the handbags themselves have become so valuable they are often stolen to order--forget the cash and the cards, go for the Gucci, the Prada or the Hermes.

If a thief had gone for my handbag this morning as I was waiting at the bus stop or walking to my work, he might have found rather more than he bargained for.  I had an extremely ripe papaya in my handbag, which is a bit like carrying a hand grenade:  similar in shape, size, weight and explosive potential.  One false move could have led to a sticky end for my bag, its contents and the thief.

It must be a nightmare to have one's identity stolen or lost.  Who knows how many of us have doppelgängers somewhere on the planet buying zithers and Oxford Dictionaries and golf carts with our credit cards, while we go about our business all (temporarily) unaware?

Look at all the problems poor old Jason Bourne had when he got into a bit of a muddle about his identity--and they lasted for four films.  I always rather wondered what he was going to do if he ever needed a job reference...

Which reminds me of the old story of the poor lassie from the isles who was on her way to Glasgow on the steamer for an interview for a post as a nursery maid.  It was a stormy night and the girl, who was feeling very seasick, was leaning over the rail when she dropped her bag overboard.  She was found sobbing by the first mate, who took her to the Captain.  'Oh what shall I do?' she cried.  'I'll never get the job without the reference that was lost and my family are counting on me for a wage.'

'Not to worry,' replied the Captain, who was a kindly man and had a daughter of his own at home.  'I'll write you another one.'  And so he did.  It said:  'This letter is to attest that Miss Fiona Macleod lost her character on board the M V Maid of the Isles on the night of the...'


  1. I think I told you that joke! And by the way, 'hand'bag rates alongside 'toilet' in the compendium of things u and non-u....

    1. I believe that story is the Highland equivalent of an urban myth...