It had to happen some time. Three days back the brass strap fittings on my favourite orange bag - the Italian one I bought in Florence in 2009 - failed, and the bag started to slide down towards the pavement. Fortunately I was getting out of Jo's car at the time, and I was able to catch it before it hit the ground. It was possible to snap the worn bits back into position, temporarily, but clearly the writing was on the wall for them.
The brass bits in question were originally part of the short shoulder-strap the bag was sold with, still in position as late as May 2013. The arrangement then looked like this:
It looked very good, but that short strap kept slipping off my shoulder, which was highly irritating! That's one reason why I hadn't used the bag much since digging it out of the cupboard earlier that year. Also, such straps were an invitation to street thieves, making the bag notoriously easy to snatch off one's shoulder. I didn't want my bag so vulnerable.
The answer was to replace the original strap with a cross-body strap. I did that - a bit of surgery I did at home, with a man's leather belt bought for the purpose - meanwhile preserving the old strap in case I ever changed my mind. But the brass fittings I first used for the cross-body strap weren't up to the job, and by December 2013 I'd cannibalised the original strap for its much stouter brass fittings. This was the result:
That was, finally, just right for me. Roll forward now to last Friday. The set-up hadn't changed in three years, but I'd used the bag almost daily for much of that time. It was no surprise really, when I had a good look at the brass bits at home later that day, to see significant metal-on-metal wear:
The C-rings pivoted inside the cups on the main fastening. And one C-ring had pivoted just too much. The other was approaching the same worn state. Pinching these C-rings, so that they sat firmly in the cups again, would have worked as a remedy, but for how long? And how to pinch them so that they didn't get damaged or too obviously bent? I didn't have the tool for such a job. Nor the hand strength. Valerie's husband Mick would have done it for me, and Valerie offered his services, but I though it best to fit something else entirely.
I remembered that I had bought some stout chrome-metal rings that might represent a decent solution. I found them, and substituted them on the strap:
Hmm! It looked OK, even though these were chrome rings, not brass. Indeed, this seemed a neater and more substantial type of strap fastening than the previous kind. I could live with it for now.
There was a consequence: the strap length, fastenings included, was now a little less. So the bag rode a little higher, whether worn cross-body or on one shoulder. About an inch higher. It felt decidedly different, but it wasn't uncomfortable and I thought that I would quickly get used to the new height. It wasn't in my armpit. It was still reasonably low-slung. It might even be at a more ideal height for keeping my hand on it, and thus enhancing security. And if the bag height really came to bother me, I could of course buy another man's leather belt, and make myself a longer strap. I knew how.
So, voila! Chrome has trumped brass. And the orange bag carries on as usual. It's such a good and useful bag, just the right size, and the leather has acquired a certain patina from constant use, making it very individual. Not a bag for posh dinner-parties, nor the opera, but certainly a bag for all seasons. I'm glad to have fixed the strap fastening so easily, so that I wasn't forced to use another bag for a while.