Sunday, December 03, 2006

Making do and mending

My uncle J, who works for a fairy light company and recently presented me with some trade-show leftovers resembling a pair of giant sparkly bollocks, has never been that great at remembering birthdays. These days I don't give a stuff (I'm not that great at remembering them myself) but there was a time when this mattered. My mother therefore made sure he got me a proper 18th birthday present, which was my first rucksack.

It's hard to express how much I loved that rucksack. It lived in the same part of my heart as my 2cv, which arrived around the same time. They were symbols of my independence, and I made the most of them both. My rucksack accompanied me up and down the country and round the world, a little piece of home that I could lean on in strange places. It had a special smell, a combination of sweat and mosquito coils, special stains from damp railway station platforms, and a special pocket that I kept £20 in in case of emergencies, which was pilfered several times from cheap hotel rooms.

The bottom pocket was once ripped open somewhere between Perth and Bandar Seri Begawan -- probably an accident, as all that disappeared was a box of condoms -- but I managed to get the zip replaced in Kowloon. A few years later a bus driver in Oxford slammed the door on the belt buckle, and I managed to get that replaced too.

But eventually it was time to say goodbye -- it was a great rucksack in its day (a royal blue and red women's Berghaus), but it was a real bugger to pack, especially once the fabric between the upper and lower pockets went, and its straps had started to dig in. So I filled it with unwanted clothes and carried it on its last journey, down to my local Oxfam shop. I hope someone somewhere found a use for it.

This was about three years ago, just as I came into possession of my second rucksack, a Karrimor Global 50-70L. This rucksack, you can open all the way round and pack like a suitcase. Its straps are adjustable to fit your back exactly. It comes with a little daypack which you can zip onto the back or clip onto the straps and wear across your front. It has an extension so you can take it away full and come home with it fuller. And it has a special flap to zip away the big padded belt for going on planes, plus a shoulder strap so it can be carried holdall-style. I have hoiked it all over the place, from Amsterdam to the Zambezi. It's the business.

Or it was till, at barely three years old, the strap-zipping away zip went. I have been giving it hard stares ever since, wondering what to do with it. You can't really take it on a plane with the straps out, as they are the kind of straps which are designed to be zipped away. You'd have to get it wrapped up in one of those giant cling film machines they have at airports in countries where luggage is generally held together with string.

I know planes themselves are bad these days, so maybe this was a sign that I should just stop getting on them. Well, fair point, but wild horses wouldn't keep me in the country for Christmas this year with Glum McGlum and the Absentee Stepchildren. I'll plant some trees when I get back or something. And think of the methane I won't be emitting after eating all those sprouts.

So I had to get the rucksack situation sorted out. I don't have the cash for a new one, and chucking a whole expensive rucksack away for want of a zip feels badder than flying, even if it isn't.

Enter Lancashire Sports Repairs. What a lovely bunch of people. Cost me £36 (it's a big job, that, she said, and I am sure she was right) but it was done in a week and I had the pleasure of receiving a giant parcel in the post, which was very exciting even though I knew what was in it. I look forward to packing up my troubles in my old kitbag and smile, smile, smiling.



Blogger Andy said...

Great post, Jo - I know what it's like to get attached to something like that. But what do you know, this is the first blog post I think I have ever gained something, well, practical, from - who'd have known there was a company that could fixed all my tatty outdoor gear? I thought you just had to throw it all away these days.

10:10 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

I should have saved you their flyer, thinking about it, as you must be close to their exact target demographic (*and* from Lancs, so extra points). But most of the info's on the website, and I am dead impressed with the job they did. So even though I am not at all sporty, I wholeheartedly recommend them!

11:51 pm  

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