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It rained every day in San Francisco this past March. It was some kind of record dating back to the 1906 earthquake, and there were a lot of us waiting for the sun. One Saturday afternoon I gave up and turned on my television. Brief Encounter, that unforgettable 1945 British romance of the century was on. I succumbed. The last time I had seen it was years ago when I was bedridden with the flu. This time I was healthier and alert enough to notice that the lead actress, Celia Johnson, was one middle aged Plain Jane, while the “other man” was played by a gorgeous, thirty year old Trevor Howard.

The movie’s tagline was “A story of the most precious moments in a woman's life!” Kill me already! Then kill me again with Rachmaninoff's music playing over Celia Johnson’s heart stabbing soliloquy:

I stood there and watched his train draw out of the station. I stared after it, until its tail light had vanished into the darkness. I imagined him getting out at Churley, giving up his ticket, walking back through the streets, letting himself into his house with his latchkey. His wife Madeleine, will probably be in the hall to meet him, or perhaps upstairs in her room, not feeling very well. Small, dark, and rather delicate. I wondered if he'd say: 'I met such a nice woman at the Kardomah. We had lunch and went to the pictures.' And then suddenly, I knew that he wouldn't. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he wouldn't say a word - and at that moment, the first awful feeling of danger swept over me.

And the constant California rain…

But fashion is after all the point, and while it was obvious that Celia was not going off into the sunset with Trevor, she did carry an incredibly chic ostrich leather clutch, a lot like the Balenciaga clutch I bought for Haute Couture Week in January, but more chic because it was ostrich, while mine is simply calf. I became obsessed with ostrich, a leather often dismissed by fashionistas as pimply and disgusting. The chase for an ostrich clutch for me had begun. Of course I waited for the movie to end-- I needed to cry and feel at one with my sisterhood, our “most precious moments”, et cetera. Then I was off.

The hunt was tedious. Anyone reading Fashionlines knows how exhausting such an exacting fashion task can be—and how often we are seduced off the track by other things—gold shoulder bags with chain handles, little handle bags with cherry patterns, Hermés products, and so on. I really tried to stay pure to my original whim.

I was not one hundred per cent successful---I did find a dusty pink ostrich bag, but it dangles from an elegant chain. Oh, women are fickle all right. A pink ostrich handbag with a delicate silver chain found and purchased while the rain hammered the California coastline is really what anticipating spring is all about.



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