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Gift horses. And wallets.

Gift horses. And wallets.

by , May 27, 2014

This being a site about carrying stuff, our dear readers no doubt think about and value what they use to carry more than your average punter. It’s about what gets used and what gets left behind in a box in the shed. If you have some milestone occasion coming up in your life, you may just want to tip your friends and relatives into this article and hope for the best. Or, even better, have a think about it yourself when you’re shopping for a gift.

It may well be that if the gift is something that’s well made, practical, functional and suits your lifestyle, you could be using it for the rest of your life. Which means you’ll have fond memories of who gave it to you for the rest of your life, too. Now, there’s a sobering thought for a world which chucks out their old phone whenever the new model appears.

It’s not about impressing on the night, or handing over the newest, shiniest product in the shop, it’s about knowing who you’re giving it to. (Gee, I should rewrite this story, change a few words and sell it to a marketing magazine.)


In my case, I’m a traveller. Motorcycles, cars, boats, trucks, planes, ships…I love ‘em all. I’ve even hitch-hiked through places that most people get nervous about looking at on Google Maps. But I didn’t know that’s how my life would pan out when, on the night of my 21st birthday, my friend Kerry Fyffe gave me a genuine “Real Calf, British Made” passport wallet.

grant1(Artfully distressed texture and artfully arranged beard pic. Beards may come and go, passport wallets go on forever.)

Maybe she knew something I didn’t. Now, I don’t mind admitting that I’m definitely the oldest writer on this site. In fact, a lot of people of my vintage probably have trouble remembering how to turn on the computer. Or what room it’s in. But that gives me the right to tell stories like this with some degree of authority.

My 21st birthday was in 1973. A mad night in London, actually, in the two-bedroom flat that I shared with 15 other kindred spirits. I’ve been travelling more or less constantly since then, and yep, I’m still using that same passport wallet. It fell out of favour there for a while because airline tickets grew to some awkward size, but I kept on carrying it anyway, and in these days of digital tickets it’s come back into its own.

grant3(Vintage wallet, vintage contents. Fake student card, Youth Hostel ID, and a ticket for the ferry from Morocco back to mainland Europe. And my passport!)

So that’s 41 years of carrying the same wallet whenever I’ve needed to be with my passport. The acetate window departed years ago, but while the wallet’s a little the worse for wear, it’s still holding together. Jeans designers would envy its naturally distressed texture. It has a deep, sneaky pocket where I usually hide a few crisp new emergency US notes, there’s a pocket for spare visa pics, an array of divided sleeves for different currencies, tickets or cards, room to tuck a pen and, of course, a perfectly-sized passport pocket for that vital document.

And while our lives have gone very separate ways, my thoughts still go to a young Kerry Fyffe whenever I dig the passport wallet out of the drawer in readiness for the next trip.

So “carry”, more than any fashion clothing item or beautifully engineered technical piece, can be one area where simple, classic, functional design is capable of delivering service and wholesome good vibes for years to come.

Thanks, Kerry!


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