80s: Out of the City

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To be fair, the destination was of secondary relevance, but had a primary photographic interest. No, the most enjoyable aspect of the excursion was to be able to talk at length about topics such as history, beer, philosophy, and women. In words of more that one syllable, and speak in ideas, not gossip or simple telling of stories. It was a chance to hear new things, or learn more about subjects with which I already had a shallow understanding. 

It served as a refresher. So it did not matter how much beer, or how late it was, I always returned home remembering how much I laughed or learned.

I needed a bag large enough to carry the clothes for a few changes in the course of the weekend away. I only had a sports bag big enough for carrying what I had worn for volleyball at school. I knew there was a shop on Church Street, Twickenham, that had equipment for those who sailed the Thames. I don’t remember if the bag was in the window. Once I bought it I found it was certainly big enough for heavy jumpers and cords, if needed. It had a particular smell. A rubbery chemical smell, acrid. I guessed that was a because the fabric had to be waterproof.

The handles were a white woven polyester, and the webbing circled the square profile of the red bag. The handles were deep enough that I could carry the bag over my shoulder in a jaunty nautical style. The body of the bag was rubberised polyester, and I pictured it floating if needed.  It had an internal flap that went over the contents, directly beneath the white plastic zip. 

The bag was also the exhibition case for the fine weekend clothes. The Paul Smith shirts and jumper. The underwear that was upmarket from M&S. Not that I expected anyone other that me to see them. It was a for the pleasure of the status, the style. The ‘wetpack’ among the clothes also had posh brands of cologne. 

At one point the bag would also contain my camera. Eventually that had its own bag for spare lenses and batteries. I might also have packed a book for the journey, although I probably spent more time looking out of the window.

The bag was a symbol of independent travel. Travel on my own in my early twenties was rare enough. The bag could be ‘tagged’ with planning the time of departure and arrival; did I need to change and where? How did it look? 


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