Sunday, 26 October 2008

My Secret Vice...

Neil Ayres, over at the Veggiebox which he shares with Aliya Whitely, has started a meme. It’s not one with loads of questions; in fact it has only one question – what’s your secret vice?

So far, people’s secret vices seem to be rather TV and film based. OK, I have that sort of vice too but it is AS NOTHING compared to my real vice.


Yes, rucksacks. Bags which you carry on your back, with shoulder straps. They’re everywhere now, from schoolchildren’s backs to pensioners’ garden-wandering shoulders and every kind of back in between. You can get teeny weeny little diamante encrusted numbers (except why would you?) and mammoth things which look as if they would literally hold the kitchen sink as you backpacked around the known universe. Everybody’s got one these days.

But I loved rucksacks well before all this ubiquity. I have loved them since I was thirteen and saved up my pocket money to buy my first one from my Mum’s catalogue – a grey canvas number with two outside pockets fastened with leather straps and buckles and leather shoulder straps. You pulled the thing closed with string strung through eyelet holes and buckled it up. Nobody had heard of snaplock buckles in those days. Nobody outside the American military had thought of ripstop nylon and waterproofed materials in the context of rucksacks. If you wanted things inside to stay dry, you put them in a plastic bag. Or a bin bag if you had a bigger rucksack, like the one I went around bits of Germany and Scandinavia with in my second summer at university. A huge blue karrimor beast with an external aluminium frame. I was also accompanied by my friend Jane, but she is not what this post is about.

Lots of people carry all their baby-changing paraphernalia in a rucksack now (from Mothercare, natch). I did it nineteen years ago in one from Milletts. It didn’t have a changing mat or a bottle pocket. Not that I had any time for either of those things anyway, but you get the point. If it can be carried in a rucksack, I will carry it in a rucksack.

My family is tolerant of my vice. If I don’t buy or otherwise acquire a rucksack in any given calendar year, I tend to develop a tendency to stand outside Millets, Blacks, Field and Trek or luggage shops with my little nose pressed against the window, muttering about compression straps, map pockets and attachment points. As we walk down the relevant street (in Canterbury all three outdoors shops are within 50 yards of each other – bliss or torture depending on my rucksack-affording status) one of the boys is apt to bark ‘step away from the rucksack shop, Mum!’ or take my by the arm and gently steer me away, depending on how manic the gleam in my eye is.
The Other Half is kinder, she lets me go in and stroke them.

So, for your delight and delectation, may I introduce a few of the current stars of my rucksack collection.

Cue music...

This is my current 'everyday' rucksack. Just big enough to get my little laptop into if I need to. I don't do handbags, this is as handbaggy as I get.
This one's a recent acqusition, replacing one I used for more than ten years ( I may be acquisitive, but I ain't fickle) until the main zip gave out a couple of months ago. I haven't been able to bring myself to throw out this old friend yet:

Then there's the walking rucksack for when the hiking fit is upon the Other Half and me...

...which also doubles as the 'I'm going shopping' rucksack for carrying loads of rice and stuff from the local wholefood shop.

The leather 'it's not a briefcase' rucksack:

...and the piece de resistance, the good old backpacking rucksack. This is the one I took when I went to the Reading Rock Festival last year with the Ultimate Frisbee Freak and the Bassist. It's still got the multicoloured straps i used to attach things to it...

I could go on, and on.....but as regular readers of this blog are probably already doing the cyber-equivalent of sidling away nervously and wondering whether to delete me from their favourites list, I shall desist.

I blame Neil... then again, perhaps I should have just talked about my dodgy addiction to the Archers...


KAREN said...

That's very topical for me, as I've just been scouring ebay for a Nike rucksack for my son, who will tolerate no other brand!

You certainly have an impressive collection there, and yes that is an unusual vice - but harmless at least, whereas mine could be lethal in large quantities.

Golden syrup sandwiches :o0

Alis said...

I should, technically, also be addicted to golden syrup sandwiches as my mum had a craving for them when she was pregnant with me! Personally, I prefer golden syrup on sliced white toast - another vice, my favourite toast in the world is cheapo sliced white!

Juxtabook said...

A very wholesome vice to have! Mine are sugar in my tea and great diffiuclty being tidy.

Alis said...

Hi Juxtabook - I've often thought that one of the deep subtexts of my love for rucksacks is a need to keep my stuff tidy, or at least in one easily-manageable place. According to my Mum, when my brother arrived ( I was 19 months old) I put everything I possessed (we weren't well off...) in a little bag and basket and proceeded to carry it all around with me wherever I went. Clearly the new arrival was not going to be invited to share.

sexy said...


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