Ah. I remember the time when those of us with enough nouse to realise that a pull along suitcase would b*gger up only your elbow rather than your entire back / shoulder arrangement were labelled “trolley dolleys”, like some notionally airbrained stewardess. Yeah, laughing on the other side of your brown leather shoulder bag now aren’t you, macho barristers.
Alright, it’s still not the done thing for a proper pinstripey crim barrister. They can’t afford wheels. Even on suitcases. But in the civil world it is quite acceptable. And in family, well – I feel underdressed without a suitcase.
And so I have become an unwitting suitcase expert. This is a branch of expertise upon which I shall capitalise when the day arrives when I have no brief to put in my case. Yes, my next career will be as suitcase consultant. Until then though, I’m happy to share my suitcase related tips with you. They are drawn from a decade of suitcase selection, testing and breaking experience. I know from recent and bitter experience that these are rules that MUST be followed at all times*.
* NB rules apply to everyday court-based lawyers suitcase only. Other rules may apply to suitcases for different purposes and no warranty is given in respect of use in cases involving papers in excess of three lever arch files.
Rule 1. Suitcase must fit two lever arch files plus Family Court Practice or pair of heels and slim laptop, or three lever arch files at a push. Anything more and you need your backup BIG SUITCASE to which normal rules do not apply.
Rule 2. Suitcase must have two wheels not four. As I have discovered to my cost (specifically to the cost of several of my smaller toes) this week, four wheeled suitcases are differently mobile and have minds of their own. It is a wonder my four wheeler is not on the tracks at Swindon right now. They do not stop when you stop. They do not stay put in a luggage rack. You cannot perform neat handbrake stops with them.
Rule 3. Suitcase height must be not higher than the midpoint of the femur. This will ensure that when you hoik the suitcase up or down steps it does not bash each step as you ascend / descend.
Rule 4. Suitcase handle when extended must not be higher than elbow height. This will prevent an assortment of idiotic tripping incidents.
Rule 5. Suitcase must stand upright unassisted (no backpacks on wheels).
Rule 6. Suitcase should be soft shelled. Hard shelled suitcases are embarrassingly noisy when you scrape them on stuff and are unnecessarily heavy.
Rule 7. Suitcase must not be pinstriped or flowery. Just because this will make you look like an idiot.
Rule 8. Suitcase should not be over capacitous. Suitcases with capacity for four or more files plus a small chihuahua will result in excess cabin movement, knackered files, bent pages and torn FAS forms.
Rule 9. Always buy in a Bluecross sale. Never pay full price unless Rule 10 applies. Why would you.
Rule 10. Always make a mental note of your nearest department store in case of suitcase disintegration en route to court / to train. Department stores will usually dispose of your knackered suitcase upon emergency suitcase purchase. Don’t keep handcuffs or smelly socks in suitcase – you may have to conduct a contents transfer on the floor of Debenhams.
Rule 11. Don’t buy a black one. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will have one. It will lead to comedy accidental bag switches, accidental loss of papers and accidental £40,000 fines from the Information Commissioner.
Rule 12. Don’t run it in. Bash it up and down the kerbs without stopping. It isn’t worth the faff to stop and lift it every time. Suitcases are not that expensive and can be replaced.
I’m thinking of going for a PhD in suitcases. It’s practically a science.