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What's in the royal purse?

By DON ADDIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

What does Queen Elizabeth II carry in her purse?

That question nagged a bunch of us at break the other day. We do know she uses the thing as a signaling device for her entourage. When she shifts the bag from one arm to to the other, it means she's had enough of these goings-on and is ready to blow the joint. You did know that, didn't you?

Still, one wonders, why would a queen need to carry a purse? Maybe it just gives her something to do with her hands, to avoid appearing awkward. She can't be lugging a sceptre around all the time. And she has to keep up her dignity. What do you expect her to accessorize with? A fanny pack?

More to the point -- however dull -- is: What's in it?

I'm sure she doesn't need to carry money for the toll booth or for tipping at pubs. Queens don't need to carry coin any more than presidents do.

A compact? Can you picture Her Majesty powdering the royal nose in public? Used, wadded-up Kleenex tissues? One assumes those are universal. Keys? Keys to what? All doors open before her and I, for one, have never seen her drive. Dog yummies for the court Corgis? Maybe a notebook with all the kids' birthdays and the names of all the countries that aren't hers any more.

An extra pair of clean socks for when somebody spreads a cloak over a mud puddle for her and it's deeper than she thought?

This column invites your participation. An earldom to the reader who offers the best, most practical or silliest suggested contents for the Royal Handbag. Humorous ideas are acceptable, but let's not get disrespectful. She is the Queen of England, ya know, come Windsor high water.

What was that just now buzzing past my ear? Says here an asteroid big enough to wipe out a city the size of Orlando passed within 288,000 miles of Earth in March and wasn't noticed by astronomers until four days after it passed.

Well, that's a big help.

Just when I was developing some confidence in modern science. Maybe we ought to put those alert, superobservant astronomers to work in a different field. Seems like they're made of just the right stuff for airport security.

Speaking of things buzzing past our ears, it says here scientists have discovered a whole new order of insects (bringing us to 31 in all) that's wingless and about an inch long. They've named it mantophasmatodea. Hmmph. Easy for them to say. Only entomologists would come up with a name that takes up more space on the page than the bug itself would.

Speaking of bugs, will we never learn? I see in the paper that Florida once again is importing an exotic foreign organism to deal with other exotic organisms we imported earlier. Remember water hyacinths and Japanese beetles and Brazilian peppers and all that? This time it's an Australian sap-sucking bug brought in to kill those pesky imported melaleuca (punk) trees. You can be sure that, sooner or later, they'll be importing some kind of creature to save us from the sap-sucking bugs. Something like, I dunno, piranhas.

Unlike an asteroid, this will be noticed when it passes. Says here an iceberg 40-by-50 miles big broke off from Antarctica and kinda floated away. Forget the Titanic. This thing could sink New Zealand.

And forget about vacationing in Antarctica this year, Aunt Phoebe. Wait long enough and Antarctica will come to you.

How about that incident in Kansas City, Mo., last month, wherein about 23 third-graders were strip searched for missing lunch money. (The money later was found, but not on a little body.) Wouldn't you think, if they were looking for money, they'd look in the kids' clothes, rather than on their skin? Did anyone think how the kids might feel about being treated like 23 maximum-security convicts? Or 23 victims of pedophilia? I say we oughta strip search those teachers to try to find some brains.

In one of its efforts to make Americans safer, Homefront Security wizards have instituted a color-coded alert system: Red is for "severe" danger, orange for "high," yellow for "elevated," blue for "guarded" and green for "low." We all can relax when it reaches "Condition Peachy."

Expect a new level of government-worker rudeness: The city of St. Cloud, Fla., has decided it's not going to hire any smokers from now on. I feel sorry for the poor city hiree whose job it is to scrape all the Nicorette wads off the bottoms of the chairs.

Say, did you read about that big, prehistoric-looking sturgeon that washed up in Tampa Bay? I always thought those fish were strictly fresh-water dwellers, but I guess not. It doesn't take a brine sturgeon to figure that one out.

Then there was that train that derailed near Ocala, spilling cartons of orange juice all over the place. Darn! Where are those spilled truckloads of vodka when you need them?

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