In Case of Eventuality…

I’ve just tried to pay for breakfast with a tube of hand cream and a dog biscuit.

These are the first things I came up with when I rummaged in my handbag for some cash.

I couldn’t find my purse because it was buried under a heap of things I keep in my bag IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.

In Case of Emergency is a big thing for me. My husband’s name in my phone is ICE – the acronym for In Case of Emergency.

“But you have a lock on your phone,” says my husband. “They won’t be able to call me if they can’t access your contacts.”

Ha! Little did he know that, unlike in every other situation where I’m confronted by new technology and simply poke around the device complaining that ‘intuitive’ is just a term IT specialists use to oppress ordinary people, this time, I’d actually read the instructions.

Yes, I’d worked out how to enter my husband’s contact details using the ‘Health’ app on my iPhone! So any paramedic, hostage negotiator or work colleague will be able to dial him direct without unlocking my phone and accessing all the really important data on there, like my free dough balls voucher from Pizza Express or my 30% off code for dog food.

My husband is amazed. I am the woman who calls him at work to ask how to print in landscape, not portrait.

I am not a natural in the digital world, but because In Case of Emergency really matters to me, I have made myself learn.

Back to my handbag. As I dug around on the hunt for my purse, I came up with the following emergency supplies:

  1. Mini pack of wet wipes – potential emergency: misplace hand clearing dog vomit; sweat in cleavage arising from stress of parallel parking in public.
  2. Travel size mascara – potential emergency: leave home with no make up on (this has never happened).
  3. Travel hairbrush – potential emergency: catching sight of my hair in the rear view mirror and wishing I’d worn it in a pony tail.
  4. Blister strip of codeine – potential emergency: I herniate a disc getting up out of a chair/slipping on uneven paving stones/dancing on a table.
  5. Small tin of plasters (including blister plasters) – potential emergency: god, practically anything, but especially breaking in new shoes.
  6. Factor 30 suncream – potential emergency: the bloody sun comes out without warning.
  7. Packet of cuppa soup (tomato) – potential emergency: I am starving to death in a post-nuclear landscape and the only ingredient I have is hot water.
  8. Two lemon, ginger and manuka tea bags – potential emergency: I go to stay with my friend Jo who has PG Tips in the cupboard but never has milk in her fridge. This is exactly what happened this morning.
  9. Socks – potential emergency: the air con is broken in the studio/cinema/school hall and I’m barefoot in ballet pumps or sandals.
  10. Dog treats – potential emergency: we visit a dog friendly restaurant and none of the staff think my dog is adorable and don’t offer him any sustenance.
  11. Poo bags (dogs, obvs) – potential emergency: use your imagination.
  12. Hair clips (assorted) – potential emergency: see item 3.
  13. Mini can hair spray – potential emergency: see items 3 and 12.
  14. Vial of perfume (not my current signature scent, but a sample) – potential emergency: panicked by husband into leaving the house without spritzing the Jo Malone.
  15. Hand cream – potential emergency: I overheat at work and my hands dry out before an important meeting where I may have to shake hands with someone. (The queen? Who knows?)

These complement the emergency contents of my glove box:

  1. Tights (1 x black, 1 x nude).
  2. Pack of fun size Mars bars (I’m not diabetic but I don’t want to take any chances).
  3. Seat belt cutter/emergency hammer/glass window breaker tool – my dad bought it for me. So now you know where I get it from.
  4. Hi Vis jacket – again, a gift from my father who envisages me breaking down every five hundred metres on the motorway (since this is what happened to me on a near weekly basis when I was 17 and driving a Fiat Panda).

“Dry hands are not an emergency,” says my husband on reading this. “And neither is a ladder in your tights! An emergency is a heart attack, a stroke, a bloody train crash, for Christ’s sake! You are confusing ’emergency’ with ‘eventuality.'”

It’s possible he may be right. But I was (briefly) a Girl Guide.

“Be Prepared” is all I know.


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  1. Seem to recall Victoria Wood mentioning a spare Lil-let in the bottom of her handbag. Useful item for striking blows at a potential attacker, apparently.

  2. You also married a Fraser – and the Fraser of Lovat motto is “Je suis prest” (Old French spelling!). But actually I think your husband may be more closely connected to the Saltoun branch.

  3. I’m sure if I had a handbag, I could think of lots of emergency items to fill it with. When I used to go for a night out in Bangkok, I never carried a wallet and only took as much cash as I would be happy to part with. I also put an emergency 200 baht inside my shoe which was more than enough for a taxi home but not enough to get myself into any trouble.

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