The Contents


work by Helen Savage

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Queen Elizabeth's Handbag

Handbag List of Contents
1. Black leather purse - 2 x £1 coins, a second class stamp, £5 note, 2 x black and white photographs, a detached house and a young woman with a parasol, silver Yale key, library card and scratch card.
2. Gloves - beige
3. False Teeth - wrapped in tissue, nicotine stained.
4. Crumpled tissues - traces of red lipstick.
5. Opera glasses - slightly corroded.
6. Spectacles - heavy dark rim and hard case, fake snakeskin decoration.
7. Clip on earrings - mother of pearl.
8. Compact mirror and face powder - art deco design.
9. 3 x Red Lipsticks - Yardley, Revlon and No.7.
10. A Postcard from Hastings - a scene from the beach.
11. Scarf - chiffon, blue & silver abstract design.
12. Sweet wrappers - mostly chocolate eclairs and toffees.
13. Address Book - Edwardian Country Lady design.
14. Colour photograph - two women lying in the surf on a sandy beach.
15. Gentleman's watch - Roman numerals, gold edging, strap missing.
16. Colour photograph of a middle age couple sitting on a terrace by a pool, with drinks.
17. Make-up bag - lime green flowers containing blue eyeshadow, No.7 lipstick, eyelash curlers, nail file, mascara and cerise pink nail varnish.
18. Pen - ballpoint, black /silver, inscribed ' to Aunt Evelyn with love, Wendy.'
19. Packet of Polos - half eaten.
20. Packet of Benson and Hedges - 3 x cigarettes.
21. Empty box of matches - advertising a betting shop.
22. Daily Mail crossword- not started.
23. Chanel No. 5
24. Toothpick
25. Comb - light blue.
26. Snow globe - a scene from Blackpool, discoloured and only half filled
with liquid.
27. Building Society Book - no transactions for the past two years.
28. Gentleman's starched detachable collar, size 15


I can still see his loosely fitting burgundy velvet slippers and white scaling skin with violet undertones emerging from blue and grey stripped pyjama legs, dressed in brown polyester. Wandering along the seafront in all weathers to bottle alley with its glittering mosaic walls and windows to the approaching tide. Here he could indulge in his favourite tipple - the 'all purple cocktail' of pure meths. When the spray was foaming and the onslaught of pebbles started to attack his senses, he would head off to his preferred haunt, up the Kings Road, where the shopkeepers invested heavily in their year round Christmas lights.

Sipping a full cream offering from a silver top, Jimmie exuded gratitude by singing for his breakfast, which became a regular custom along the Kings Road. Early risers were greeted with his high-pitched howling, rebounding from one side of the street to the other. Sometimes if he got the acoustics right, it would travel as far as the railway station and mingle with the automated announcements.

By lunchtime he had usually moved on to the Kebab shop, where mesmerised by the revolving carcass, he would sit and mumble whilst picking over a Doner
and reading the paper. "That's my brother, the bastard, he stole my money..See that, See, look, I'm rich you bastards!", and out would come the building society book. The staff liked to encourage his outbursts and would pick out the hottest chillies for him, to increase the flow of obscenities.

If this failed to get any response, he would wander back down the hill to the Marina café; built on the lower promenade it offered sticky tables, smeared windows and the best views in town. But Jimmie liked to sit on the veranda and stare out to sea, savouring his rationed tobacco in his trusty pipe, whilst greeting every passing female with the obligatory " hello sweetie, got anything for me?"


© Helen Savage 10.2000

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