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Handbag style is a weighty matter

Maggie arrived at my house dressed in a jumpsuit. Khaki coloured, it had flaps and pockets and so much room in the bottom area, she could have packed a parachute in there and nobody would have been any the wiser.

Patsy said that if she had worn a leather helmet and goggles she could have easily passed for Biggles. I refrained from remarking because we needed to talk about the size of her handbag.

Studies show that half of women who carry heavy handbags suffer pain. Maggie's handbag is so big that Ryanair won't count it as hand luggage and make her put it into the hold. Not only that, but the weight of it causes her to walk sideways, like a crab missing a couple of legs.

She lugged it onto the table and then proceeded to search through it to find her mobile phone. Indiana Jones wouldn't have had as much trouble. Eventually, she located it with a loud "Ta-Da!"

I explained to her the cause of my concern. "Your body adapts according to the weight put on your shoulders and this puts pressure on your joints," I said.

"But I need everything in here!" she exclaimed.

It was time to do an inventory. I put my whole head inside it to have a look. The first thing I pulled out was a library copy of War and Peace which weighed in at about 5lbs and was due back three weeks ago. Knowing that Maggie has only recently stopped reading Mills and Boon, I was a little surprised.

"One of these days I'm going to read it," she said. And pigs might fly. I put it to one side along with a small, chipped plate that belonged to her mother-in-law who had asked her to find a match for it.

There followed three large bunches of keys, a pair of roll-up shoes, a DVD of It's Complicated, one pair of tights, one pair of knickers, a large jar of Vaseline, an iPod, a Tupperware box full of make-up, a bottle of shampoo, a bottle of Lucozade, an umbrella and a packet of Milky Moos. I delved deeper but couldn't find the kitchen sink.

"Carrying a heavy bag like that makes you slump to one side. You can get terrible arthritis in your shoulders as well as your hips and knees," I said, sounding like her mother.

"I can live with that," she sniffed.

"There is worse," I said. "It can give you bandy legs and make your boobs droop."

I made that last bit up but it was worth it. With a look of horror, she ditched the DVD and Milky Moos. Not much but it's a start.