24 July 2005

I've been thinking today about the criminality of fashion.

Hoodies. Now, if my Nan was still alive, she'd be delighted if the teenage me had put on a jumper to go out of the house. Especially if it was one that kept your ears warm and prevented a chill from going down your neck. She'd have jumped for joy - despite the severity of her arthritis.

But, now, jumpers are "cool", and so kids are getting slapped with ASBO's to prevent them from wearing them, schools are banning them, etc. There must be millions of grannies out there fraught about their offspring's offspring going out in the cold without a jumper on. OK, I know it's July... but have you looked out the window at the weather today?

And then there's rucksack's. Which seemed to have been on their way out of fashion anyway. A couple of months ago I sought high and low (well, from one end of Camden to the other) looking for a decent rucksack to replace the dying, denim, Hello Kitty bag that I bought in San Francisco three years ago.

Rucksacks seemed to have fallen out of favour and been replaced by those silly bags that go diagonally across your person. Have you ever tried to hang one of those off the back of a wheelchair? Farcical, I tell you. Because it's asymmetrical it swings to the side, gets stuck in your wheel, you end up jarring to a holt and spinning 180 degrees with a combination of the forward momentum you had, and the fact that one of your wheels now has something jammed in it. Getting stuck in the wheel rips the bag, but only a tiny hole, big enough for all your tampons to fall out. Then the guy walking along behind you that was going to offer to help you pick up your stuff sees what's fallen out of your bag and runs off blushing. You've still got the old woman who tripped over you when you did your sudden about turn swearing at you for not looking where you were going. A nightmare I tell you.

OK, that hasn't actually happened to me. But I did once try to hang one of those silly bags on the back of my chair, and it just went straight for the wheels like a weirdo in a crowded place to will always gravitate towards me ("I think you're so brave and wonderful for going clubbing even though you're in a wheelchair."). The rest is a montage of various incidents from the course of my life (mostly from having broken wheels...). But, it could happen...

Holdalls are out as well. OK, they will actually hang properly on the back of a chair. But, they stick out too far. There's the nightmare that if you try and turn in a shop, you end up knocking several shelves worth of stuff flying because of the excess size at the rear (and excess size at the rear is something I know all about). Or, there's the risk that with all the space inside a holdall that you'll fill it too full (it's amazing how much crap you can cram into a bag. It's not like I ever wear make up, so why the hell would I need a little make up bag "just incase"??), and the second you hang it on your back, the weight flips your chair over and you're left there with your feet pointing skyward, feeling slightly stunned. The good thing though is that the holdall will act like a cushion and prevent you from whacking your head on the pavement and acquiring a concussion.

After having exhausted the possibilities of Camden, I turned to the only other place I could think of that sells funky stuff. eBay. Result! I found a plain purple rucksack which I persuaded my parents to buy me for my birthday. That'll do for when I have to look vaguely serious. And I bought a Bang on the Door rucksack for when I'm allowed to unleash the real me. It's suitable for age 4 - 8, which is about right. My drama of not being able to find something funky that would also hang on the back of a wheelchair was over.

But, now, rucksacks are the epitome of all evil! OK, I'm not concerned about plain clothes police officers blowing my head off because of my pretty purple and pink bag. I'm a wheelchair user; I can do no wrong! Oh, the joys of being under age and mobility impaired. Despite being 13/14/15, I never, ever got IDed buying alcohol. Ask anyone else disabled and 9 out of ten of them will tell you the same story.

Suddenly, rucksacks are the brunt of all jokes! There's pictures circulating the interwebnet (OK, granted, that one is mocking the police rather than rucksacks themselves, but it's still got a bit of a "rucksacks are a faux pas" theme). 'Careful with that rucksack!' is the new office joke. Apparently. I wouldn't know, there's only 1 day a week where I'm not the only employee in my office.

Maybe I should start a rucksack pride movement. Just today I was again browsing eBay trying to find a rucksack like laptop case in the hope that if I purchase one, then I'll be able to take my PC to Edinburgh with me. My current case I wouldn't be able to carry, with a bag of clothes as well. And besides, I don't like carrying my laptop case in public. It's too obviously a laptop case. I may as well stick a sticker on it saying "I contain a computer. Steal me." But, a nifty rucksacky one I'd be able to whack on the back of my chair, et, voila!

And, after all. If the people I meet are of the quality of the folks I met last year, it'll be well worth taking my PC with me to blog about them. Like the woman who felt compelled to cross the road just to tell me "I was going to ask if you wanted a push, but, from the fact that you don't have handles on your chair, I'm guessing you don't." She guessed right. I can only hope that her inner monologue wasn't working in an Austin Powers style manner. Some people should have their voice boxes removed at birth, and she'd be a prime candidate, right after the constantly screeching toddler in my building.


  1. Anonymous7:54 am

    Every time I know someone who's selling a rucksack cheap I grab it because they're so bloody handy. But as a semi-addicted afficionado, I couldn't help but sport minor morning wood when I saw this bg. Complete with solar powered charger for your iPod!

  2. There's always Millets and other camping shops.

  3. Anonymous5:25 pm

    Hey, I'm an American friend of Jo's. You might want to look at places that also cater to American buyers as I've never had a problem buying a rucksack over here. And I know another one of Jo's friends (this one's British) has a rucksack that contains his computer... I'll see if he can pass on where he got it.

  4. I saw this and I thought of you: