Of Hats and Handbags (and shoes and Princess Diana)

4 Apr

Today I took my nine month old son to see an exhibition called “hats and handbags” at the county museum.

No gender stereotyping here.

I even let him try on one of the fascinators, although in all honesty he was more interested in dribbling on it, and as he doesn’t yet have much hair there wasn’t a great deal to fasten it to.

There were quite a lot of hats on display, mostly labelled simply “Hat” and then a date. So, the sign “Hat, 1920s” appeared with comforting regularity. A curiously minimalist choice of phrase, I thought, for an educational exhibition about hats.

To be honest I’m struggling to recall a single handbag. There were quite a few pairs of shoes, standing self-consciously in the middle of the room in a big glass display cabinet. There was also something about Princess Diana. Did she like hats? Yes, maybe that was it.

All I can remember on the handbag front is reading something which ended with the enigmatic sentence “then, as now, the contents of a lady’s handbag were very private” (insert your own pun about government snooping here).

It was clearly written by somebody who doesn’t have children. The contents of my handbag are strewn around Dorset on a regular basis, usually in the search for wetwipes, teething rings,  my mobile phone etc.

Recently a friend routed around on my behalf in search of my house keys.

“I know they’re in there, I can hear something jangling,” she said optimistically. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that at least half of the things in my handbag do that.

There’s the “emergency penguin” – a felt penguin head on a stick so-called because it seems to have have the mystical ability to instantly stop any size of baby tantrum. That has a bell inside it. There’s also the baby’s rattle, the Christmas bib that has somehow not yet made its way into the washing machine, a squeaky little rubber alien that the baby likes to gnaw on… frankly it’s more difficult to think of something inside my bag that *doesn’t* make a comedy noise of some sort.

There’s a mantra that people who work in TV tell each other, because you never have enough time to fit in everything you want to. “Leave them wanting more!” they say cheerfully after telling you that you have approximately 90 seconds to explain the evolution of mankind.

This exhibition certainly achieved that. I would have liked to have known more about the hats other than the fact that they were, erm, hats. I would also have liked to have seen some handbags, as promised.

Still, it was fun trying on some of the more outlandish creations (they weren’t all behind glass, which was refreshing) and my son laughed his head off when I balanced an enormous pink felt affair on my head. Straightaway he grabbed hold of the bushy, brown, furry ribbon adorning it… which I suddenly realised in horror was the tail of a dead cat. They don’t make em like they used to, do they?

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2 Responses to “Of Hats and Handbags (and shoes and Princess Diana)”

  1. almost witty April 5, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    You can explain the evolution of mankind in ten seconds.

    Cells > Fish > Aquatic creatures > crawl onto shore > become chimps > apes > humanity.

    Seeemples!

    PS: My wife’s taken to carrying a backpack around instead of a handbag. Far more practical.

  2. zskdorset April 5, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    hmm i’m thinking i might put the baby in a backpack fairly soon….

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