In recent history, the average British male needed only two things when he left the house; wallet and keys. Latter days have seen the phone added to the list, but still, the wallet is important.
For the average bloke, a simple, thin leather wallet suffices to store his cash, cards and other bits and bobs. But not me. I have an impractical and, according some, overly effeminate manpurse because it is too big to lose.
That's right, what this object represents most is my chronic absent mindedness. The only reason I'm in any way organised for work is, in part, thanks to suits who don't let me get lost or forget things, but mostly down to herculean effort and making lists;to do lists, what not to forget lists, boards packed with post-it notes and meticulous attention paid to paper and online diaries. All the energy that goes into paying attention in paid employment leaves little left for personal life.
Highlights include losing my car keys and finding them in the washing up bowl (after paying hundreds for a new lock and set or keys), forgetting to pick up an ex girlfriend from the airport, a TBWA record for losing mobile phones, coming to work in odd shoes and leaving hundreds of pounds worth of sports equipment, clothing and accessories in gyms, swimming pools and other athletic establishments accross the globe. On average, I buy two pairs of swim goggles per month.
Before I owned the man-purse, I went through about three wallets a year, with the chronic inconvenience that comes with that; reporting lost cards, actually having to queue in physical bank to withdraw real, paper money from a human being, a new gym membership card, lost expenses receipts. Eventually I had to choose the nuclear option and bought the biggest wallet I could find, this brick sized monstrosity, along with the added birch-like punishment of resembling a female clutch bag, according to certain uncharitable friends and colleagues.
I bought it in 1999, when I was living in Newcastle and working at my first agency, as a (not very good) account executive, just about surviving the creative bullies, the studio animals and the overiding traditional, boorish male culture. Reminds me that you need to move around before you find a culture that fits, this wasn't it. I became very unhappy, but you have to start somewhere. It showed me the kind of place I didn't want to work at and started the slow realisation that I was a thinker rather than a doer, despite not even knowing there was such a thing as planner.
The manpurse reminds me of those times every now and then. Single, broke, naive, in a flat share in Jesmond, conveniently opposite the pub, living for those weekend nights out on the Quayside, rowing on Wednesday mornings in Durham, Millennium New Years Eve in Hamburg and a long distance relationship with a girl from Burton on Trent who broke my heart.
So this object is a recognition of chronic weakness, but also a portal back into a time that was character forming but tremendous fun.Looking back at the person who bought the manpurse, I can only cringe with embarrassment, but there you go.