I walked into the office and slammed my leather satchel down on the desk, my colleague Jess looked up.
"You keep doing that," she said.
"I'm trying to be authoritative."
I slowly unbuckled my bag.
"Check this out," I said, "new bag."
It really was. In an attempt to finesse my office look, I had spent over £300 on a Burberry satchel. I had been observing the trend in office satchels for a while and was pleased to finally join the melee. I suspect the craze started somewhere in East London - I could imagine some privately educated media worker strolling through his adopted council estate, battered satchel across his shoulder. From here the look spread west until it was finally appropriated by portly middle managers. And me.
"Seriously," Jess said, "it looks great."
"Thanks, I think so," I refastened the buckle, "I'm going to grab a tea from the canteen, fancy one?"
"You're bringing your bag."
"Yeah," I stepped away from my desk, "I've got some things in here."
Jess screwed up her face at my nonsensical response but before she could say anything I was gone.
In the canteen Christie was making a coffee. Her iPhone was on the counter; its case adorned with a picture of a large frog - as our digital marketing manager kookiness was a must. She was also wearing a Christmas jumper; the woman's sense of irony was outstanding. What next I thought, pumpkin carving at Easter?
"Morning," I said, placing my satchel on the counter.
Christie smiled, "morning, how's it going?"
We spoke about the weekend; I had been on an Internet date but pretended I was with friends instead. We had eaten at Cafe Rouge but that was too 'high street' so I said I'd dined at Asia de Cuba. My story was essentially truthful, just a little airbrushed for effect.
"Quite the social life you have," she said, "nice bag, by the way."
"This? Why thank you, it's a Burberry."
"Oh, I thought so, I love their coats. Have you seen the SS14 promo? They had some great faces."
I nodded, "uh-huh."
"So you do know something after all. "
I shrugged, feigning modesty.
"What did you think of the collection?" She said.
"Oh, me too."
I felt my neck redden. She was about to speak when I cut in.
"Come on," I said, "let's not go on about bags."
"Sorry, I didn't realise I was going on."
We were lost among the leather bags and coats of the Capital; I wondered how it had come to this. The London male was being emasculated, crushed under the weight of our ludicrous apparel. The satchel started trending when puffy old soaks began watching Mad Men - suddenly business attire was trendy. Eschewing the briefcases of their fathers, they turned to the vaguely hip option. And yet despite its ubiquity, there is something noble about the satchel, rustic even.
As a working class Londoner I can say that the leather satchel was precisely the bag you did not want to own, growing up. Still, I have long tried to mask my roots, acquiring one of the buckled monstrosities was therefore an inevitability. Presumably, the next step would be the farmer's look, embraced by thirty-something gastropub dwellers everywhere: wax jacket, faux faded jeans and questionable facial hair. Whatever next? Personally, I would welcome the return of the cloak, now that I could work with. Like a Saxon lord, I would fasten it each morning with the clasp of my office. Similarly, I couldn't help but think that the middle-class men of London, with their many layered coats, leather saddle bags and full beards, were starting to resemble the residents of Westeros.
"I didn't mean anything by that," I said to Christie, reaching for the milk.
"Sorry," she said, "I'm just grumpy in the mornings."
I smiled and she reciprocated. Christie was alright really, she had previously dubbed herself 'a creative' - it was a caveat, an excuse for her flaky behaviour. Despite this contrivance, I quite liked her; we had rebuilt our relationship since our disastrous Christmas party snog. The amorous display caused quite a fuss and was even posted on YouTube, almost ruining us both. We survived, just. Regardless, I had resolved to ask her out.
"Listen," I said, "I've been thinking, we never did go out for that drink."
"That's right," she said, smiling, "perhaps we should."
I watched Christie's behind as she walked towards the door. She passed our rotund Finance Director, William, heading the other way. He offered her a crisp nod.
"Morning Christopher," he said, approaching at speed, "how are you?"
"He's fine, Will," Christie said over her shoulder, "just don't ask him about his new bag, he'll bite your head off."
Then she was gone. William and I both looked at my satchel; it was set up on the table like some kind of primitive idol. He glanced at me, then back to the bag.
"It is a good one," he said.
I slung it over my shoulder. I was going to say something then thought better of it.
"Thanks," I said, "have a good day, William."
"You too, old chap," he said, patting my arm, "you too."Suggest a correction