About Life

My Rucksacks

For Ali

During a recent emergency in the Brandauer family, the paramedic gave me 15 seconds when I asked him if I could grab a few things before getting into the ambulance. I needed 5 seconds.

As younger couples with a baby on the way know (well, they should know), there needs to be a readily packed bag by the door for when the moment comes. I have had a bag ready ever since our children were born. I won’t tell you what it contains but it is all I need to survive for 48 hours or longer if necessary. It’s one of my trusted rucksacks which helped me on the Camino in Northern Spain, on many an urgent weekend journey, at work, on business trips including a four week stint last November, pre-Covid, somewhere in Southern Egypt. It is always readily packed. I don’t know exactly why I do this.

In fact, I have three rucksacks. Each one packed for different occasions, opportunities and eventualities. I wonder what a depth psychologist would make of it. ‘Carl Brandauer is ready for a quick get away’, he or she may say. ‘He wants to escape in his heart of hearts. There’s a shadow lurking inside that wants to break free’…that sort of thing. Actually, I think it’s none of that. I just hate packing in a hurry and forget things I need if I do. In any case, I was certainly rather grateful it was there two weeks ago when the crisis struck.

Built to order by a lovely lady somewhere in the South West Country (probably surrounded by insanely beautiful countryside ), they are simply beautifully made as well. I have never met the lady who made them for me, yet her bags have helped me everywhere I have been in recent times. Beautiful things make you smile. Useful things help you out. If objects are both, and knowing they weren’t made by an exploited underaged pair of hands in some hot country…I don’t know quite how to spell it out. It feels right. It feels good.

And with such a ‘ready bag’ you also learn to only pack what you really need. I can’t say what that is for you but I know what it is for me. As the song I wrote some time back says:

…the pilgrim sheds what’s not of use

Without excuse

Each thing needs carrying

Each thing has weight

The same with worries

Grief and hate

You shed it as you climb the slopes

And joy emerges

Freedom, hopes

You may find it odd hearing someone talk about rucksacks but here you are, I love those bags.

Take care and good luck

ps. Just to save you asking, you can get a rucksack like that from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *