This earlier piece, “Never travelling light”, describes how I have always carried too much stuff around with me, in bags and pockets, ever since schooldays. I have lugged things from place to place that were never used, and most of the pockets in my coats and jackets have holes in them.
This character trait was handy when the children were still in nappies (or diapers, as our American friends call them). We never ran out of the things you need when you’re out and about with a baby or two. We always carried a change bag that contained nappies, wipes, fragrant sacks to put used things into, a change mat, tissues, muslins and spare clothing. When the children were drinking from bottles we always had what we needed, either the formula milk already made up or a bottle of boiled water and milk powder to add when required. The change bag was always stocked up.
The only times that our supplies were depleted were when we gave things to other people. One of our friends, who we saw a lot when the children were small, repeatedly came out without a change bag and often without a spare nappy or two. She would ask the following question: “Do you have a nappy I could borrow?” It became a catchphrase for us, with the emphasis on the word “borrow”. We supplied her with many spare nappies over the years but never felt that they were on loan. She was welcome to keep them, whatever state they were in.