Several months ago I met a man who engendered in me feelings of admiration and envy; the admiration was because he was living my dream – living off a pension and spending his days as a writer – and envy because he had a brilliant writing bag. I encountered him in the course of my day-to-day life, not at a writing event, and it was one of those meetings where you realise that the people you are engaging with every day are not the sort who will ever feed your soul. I spent longer than I should have chatting with him, and he showed me what he was carrying with him in his writing bag, his pens and books. Ever since then, I have been pondering the idea of buying a writing bag, and browsing the internet last week on totally unrelated searches, I finally hit upon a solution.
As you can see, I’ve found a bag that is ideally set up to carry a couple of A5 books (in the above shot I’ve got a RhodiaRama notebook in the front section and my William Hannah looseleaf notebook in the centre) together with a selection of writing instruments, and there is still a whole section at the back for purse, tissues, reading glasses etc. Fully stuffed with all of that, it still closes securely and the clasps work well. This feels like a bag that I’d be happy to carry in the rain, confident that my books would be protected.
Now this is not a new bag, but the leather is sturdy and in good condition, albeit with a number of scuffs picked up along the way (which I may or may not decide to try and rectify), and there are no problems at all with the stitching.
The bag is comfortable to carry cross-body (if I extended the strap fully the bag would probably hang to my knees!) and there is a very short strap which is handy to grab when the bag is not on your shoulder. As the main shoulder strap is attached to d-rings with clips, it would be easy to replace if it broke; it also occurs to me that if any of the stitching gave way, a reasonably competent shoe repair shop could probably assist.
So far, so good, a nice sturdy bag, with some eco-credentials for being a second-hand purchase. But I haven’t even touched on the real magic, the reasons why the minute I spotted this I knew it would have to be mine. The first big reason is that this isn’t just any old second-hand leather bag – it’s a relic of the Cold War, made for the Russian military. That is just about cool enough to turn my head, especially since my holiday in Helsinki earlier this year has put Soviet memorabilia on my radar. But even that might not have been enough to lure me.
Here is the bag open in its full glory. It was designed to carry documents and maps which could be slotted into the long plastic pocket or secured on top with the elastic straps. A variety of loops and studded straps can hold pencils, rulers, compass, the world’s your oyster. Oh, and those elastic straps – remind you of anything? Yes, it would be perfectly possible to set this up with A5 notebooks, Travellers’ Notebook-style.
I love bags, I especially love vintage bags, and I love this vintage bag beyond belief.