Lucy plotted this purchase carefully online. She wasn’t thinking ‘mummy bag’. She wanted something classy, classic, summer in the Hamptons, old school power bitch with a Filofax. But now the cream exterior is smudged with biro and stained with mustard, and the interior is a different, even more distressing horror story. She imagines an official government bag inspector rifling through it in dismay, ignoring the shinier signs of success (iPad, Marc Jacobs wallet, Chanel lipstick – in a colour that’s no longer available, but still) and shrieking with horror at the tampons who escaped their cellophane to roll in the bag dust like dirty hippies. And what of the other monstrosities? Nude Topshop ballet pumps with a busted seam that have started to smell ‘curious’. Camus to look cool, Jilly Cooper for luck and an old, unread Vogue doing the job of a document folder. Seven foil wrappings which once held falafel wraps from Leon.
Lucy sometimes finds life in London so overwhelming that she wishes she could climb inside her giant bag and wait for someone to discover her and look after her, like Paddington. Or she could set up home there – it’s no darker or smellier than her Clapham house share, and it’s much cheaper. Perhaps she’ll throw it into the sea and go to her parents’ in Dorset for a bit. She remembers walking around their hall, arms outstretched, feeling for wifi like a Knightmare contestant, and thinks again. She hitches her giant bag higher on her shoulder and its padlock narrowly misses the face of a passing cyclist. In London, you need all the weapons you can get.