“Grandma, will you tell me a story while I fall asleep?”
“Of course, my dear. Which one would you like?”
“The one about what luggage used to be like, when you were a girl.”
“Well as long as you don’t have nightmares.”
“I won’t Grandma.”
“Once upon a time, when the world was a younger and less colourful place, everybody’s luggage was the same. Some suitcases were bigger than others, but otherwise they all looked alike. Every suitcase in the whole world was plain black.
“When families went on holiday, everyone took the same sort of luggage. That was fine for going on holiday in the family car, but travelling on a bus or – heaven forbid – an aeroplane, was awful. Can you imagine 50 suitcases, all black, all the same except for size and a little handwritten label? Sometimes it took 2 days to find the right bags and then it might be nearly time to go home.
“Even worse was having to carry the suitcase in your hand. The handle wasn’t just for show like today, oh no. Daddies would have one suitcase in each hand, bottoms almost scarping along the floor of the airport and if they had lots of children, they might even have another case tucked under their arms.
“One day, a clever suitcase maker decided to make a special suitcase for the holiday he was planning with his family. Instead of black, he made a suitcase that was very dark blue. Now to look at alone, it looked the same as any other suitcase, but when it was with a group of black suitcases? It was so obvious that the suitcase maker would find it in 2 minutes flat.
“And then do you know what else he did? Because he knew his family had a lot of holiday things and the case would be heavy, he added 2 little wheels on the corners of the case and a big long handle that folded away for pulling it behind him.
“Well that summer the suitcase maker’s family had a longer holiday than everyone else, everyone who was left hunting for their luggage at the airport. So when he got home, do you know what he did? He started to make more cases in more colours.
“First he did some brown cases, and they sold out in his shop in a week. Next he made red cases and those sold even more quickly. As many colours as he thought of, they all sold and still people wanted more. Some people just came to see these magical cases, but were sad they couldn’t afford to buy them. So the suitcase maker thought of bright strings and ties for cases, much cheaper than a whole suitcase and perfect to tie around an old black case.
“And so holiday luggage changed more and more until it was all as colourful and pretty as we have it today. Nobody has black cases anymore and airports look like rainbows.”
“Grandma, if I bought a suitcase, I think I would buy a black one.”
“Why ever would you do that with all the flowers and stripes and circles you can get, sweetie?”
“I think it would be very easy to see a black one against all of them, don’t you?”