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Thursday, 10 May 2007


Ever since I was a teenager, my mother has provided me with a sealed envelope containing a crisp new £5 note to tuck into the pocket of every new handbag I have owned. Brenda says;

"a lady must always carry emergency cash in case she needs a cab to get her out of trouble!"

I laughed when mother did this again only recently.

"Look Mother, please don't bother. I have an Oyster card, and £5 will not pay for a cab anywhere today".

Brenda always insists that she be allowed to "handsel" every new handbag in this manner, it is a family tradition and her special little ritual. I still have every single envelope she has given me over the years, and until today, all remained unopened. Every one dog eared, old and torn, some smelling of perfume no longer available, others smeared with traces of cerise pink 1980's lipstick and long forgotten telephone numbers written with smudged eye liner.

The sellotape seal remains in tact on all but one. I always feared that if Brenda noticed a seal had been tampered with, I would be forced to explain to her the exact nature of any emergency. I never ever used the cash to pay for an extra drink, or buy some magazine I could not find the change for - the envelopes were strictly for emergency use only.

This afternoon I crossed Lambeth Bridge on foot with the Big Boss (BB) in order to attend a meeting. He insisted that exercise was required;

"good for our constitutions and environmentally responsible".

It was rather gusty by the river today, and I really was not prepared for the elements in my light silk knee length dress and box jacket. I always feel so awkward when alone with BB, he makes me feel inarticulate, inadequate and a complete air head.

I was walking rather briskly (in my red patent Louboutin peep toe wedges) while BB chugged along not far behind me. Suddenly a young girl in front of us had her ugly acrylic smock dress blown virtually inside out by the wind. I tried to maintain my composure while BB laughed loudly in the manner of a Harrods Santa Claus on crack cocaine. His behaviour could only be described as shameful.

It was actually rather funny, but as I tell the darling children it is simply NOCD to laugh at the mis-fortune of others. The unfortunate girl was wearing dreadful chewing gum grey coloured cheap underwear and no slip! How very embarrassing for her. Vast expanses of the flesh on her bottom cheeks had the appearance of orange peel! Cellulite is clearly the most dreadful affliction for some.

Suddenly the wind took my skirt and made every effort to lift it to my waist!!! Much to my relief BB didn't initially acknowledge the occurrence. When we had almost reached the other side of the bridge he announced:

"I do like to see a nice pair of Aubade lace knickers on a girl."

My facial expression turned to stone.

"Well this is only mid-week work wear Mr Hargreaves, I save the La Perla and Agent Provocateur for the weekends," I replied.

When our meeting was over, I immediately summoned a cab. BB objected and insisted the fare would not be paid for from his budget.

"You may join me in my cab if you wish" I said,

"I have a budget for exactly this sort of eventuality", tearing open my brown envelope.

On the journey by black cab back across the river, BB sulked and sat bolt upright gazing out the window, in search of poor unprepared females exposed by the weather, no doubt. What a dreadful old devil!

It is hard to admit, but it was worth all the years of carrying small brown sellotaped envelopes in the inside pocket of my various bags for that one occasion...

My mother is indeed a wonderful wise woman.

Did I tell you I will be forty years old this year?


The Good Woman said...

My mother never gave me such practical tokens for unexpected emergencies. But she still shares her wide repertoire of wise words with all who will listen.

For example, on this occasion, she may have said something like, 'It's only those who never see, who feel the need to take a look.'

I think your brown envelope was more useful though.

Anonymous said...

OK, DM, what happened? You can't contract out your blog to a hired hand and not give us the news?
Omega Mum
PS is your head better yet?

Drunk Mummy said...

Dear Dulwich Mum - glad to hear you are fully recovered from your 'work event' (isn't Nurofen wonderful!)
If you still have all these untouched fivers from your new handbags, you must have enough to buy an 'emergency' case of champagne (every home should have one).

dulwichmum said...

Dear TGW,

I love your mothers wise words. My mother also provided me with a profusion of situation appropriate prayer cards, Miraculous Medals and prayer books.

In general I would have preferred wise words...

Lovely Omega mum,

I really cannot say - yet!

Darling Drunk Mummy,

How very right you are! Dom or Krug?

mutterings and meanderings said...

What a wise woman Brenda is.

In our family, you are given a coin to put in a new purse 'so it will never be empty'.

I Beatrice said...

I love that story D/M!

I think I'll start the fiver tradition with my grand-daughter when she's old enough to start carrying handbags.

Anonymous said...

More power to you, DM!
Omega Mum

rilly super said...

I'm glad you are back dulwichmum, although I have to say I was rather warming to Lydia. She has a lovely style and I can see why you and she work so well together.

You shouldn't be too worried about mr hargreaves though dear. Any chap who can can spot a designer label on a girl in a gale is unlikely to wish to take advantage of such a compromising situation, if you get my drift

beta mum said...

You ought to check those fivers before they're no longer legal tender.
My gran always used to send me a fiver whenever she wrote me a letter... and she always sniped "I don't suppose your mother gives you anything much."
Competitive parenting across the generations.

Marianne said...

I too was in London on that windy day, but you'll never guess what was blown my way - come over and see DM. Hope you had a lovely evening out. Lucky you.

dulwichmum said...

Dear M&M,

My Mother does that as well, she calls that "handseling" too! Does your family use that expression?

Sweet i beatrice,

You may need to up the note to a £10 - inflation is dreadful!

Thanks lovely Omega mum.

Rilly darling,

Lydia really is a sweetie. Where would I be without her?

Clever Beta mum,

I know you are right, but sentimental old me will keep those notes forever...

Thank you Marianne honey, I think your darling son sounds perfect for Lydia! She really has the most perfect bone structure. Perfect breeding stock for a city boy... Oh dear, I really am dreadfully superficial.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I have been thinking about your lace knickers all day. Was also coveting your five pounds when I realised I had left the house without my purse...had to beg and borrow to buy the kids a pain au chocolat!

antarctichousehusband said...

Forty years YOUNG darling DM. And don't forget it.

dulwichmum said...

Dear PITK,

Brenda has also always insisted that her daughters wear nice matching underwear in case of emergency admission to hospital! I was right about that family tradition too!

Oh darling antarctichousehusband, you really are the perfect gentleman.

Marianne said...

I didn't even go there on the cheek bones, DM. I think they would be perfect together - let's set them up!

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mutterings and meanderings said...

No, this is the first time I've heard that expression.

Pig, at least it was your purse - and not your knickers - you forgot!

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Shall we start planning the Birthday Party of the Year now dear one? I hear Ray Winstone can be hired out to attend bashes of this nature.....

@themill said...

Ah, the sophistication of the London gal - only M&S thermals in the frozen north.