Travelling Light


Two Pairs of Knickers and a Capsule Wardrobe

You always aspired to travelling light. A tiny suitcase, a few multi-purpose, high-quality clothes neatly rolled amongst the books and more important items – no fuss.

What you got (when you’d allowed for the fact that rain was forecast and that it would undoubtedly be cooler in Ireland than back home) was an overflowing suitcase stuffed to breaking point with too many items of clothing. And worse.

When you opened it, you found you’d forgotten spare knickers and only had two pairs. That is, the pair you were wearing, and the pair to go with that dress, the one for the book launch. Sunday evening in Bantry Bay was definitely not the place for nipping out to buy extra knickers.

You toyed with borrowing your husband’s boxer shorts. He had packed exactly the right number of pairs, planned with precision and to colour-coordinate with his socks. You discarded that idea, what with the need to keep him onside and supportive. You remembered Sylvia’s travel theory: you only need two pairs, one to be washed in the sink and drying and one to be won, and you decided to put theory into practice…

Next morning, you examined the crisply-dried pair over the rail and realised you did not wish to wear the scrunched up pair. After some Bantry Bay sightseeing, you visited the ‘SuperValu’ supermarket and the Lidl: school uniforms galore even though the term had not yet ended, but no knickers. In desperation, you went into the Tourist Information Office and apologised for the strange question you were about to ask. The staff were more concerned about whether or not it had rained, and directed you to Burkes of Bantry – a fine old-fashioned establishment, with a small lingerie section in a box-room at the back.

You explained your predicament to the nice young lady by the till, and she rummaged in the back of a drawer, finding a dusty and battered three-pack box of cotton knickers (you didn’t want anything fancy). In white. What a ridiculous colour. You never wore white underwear. Until now. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, though your likelihood of becoming a beggar had increased dramatically since they were so expensive. Oh for a Marks and Spencer! The tatty box was lovingly wrapped in tissue and placed in a fancy ‘Burkes’ bag, and you strode back to the hotel, knowing you’d have to throw away all that packaging. En route you passed a gaggle of fellow-writers who presumably wondered at this strange woman come all the way here to shop for clothing in a dusty olde-world emporium.

Last day of the holiday, and you hadn’t worn all of your ‘capsule’ clothes – not cold enough for those jumpers. The white knickers, however, had been superbly comfy and a were a great memento of the whole trip.


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