A Note On Bags

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In the Old Testament Book of Haggai we learn that “he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes”(1:6).

I have always felt a pang of sympathy for that man, whoever he may be. As far as I am aware, he is the only person in the Bible who carries a bag with holes, a bag so unlike the ones mentioned in Luke 12:33, “bags which wax not old… where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth”. Clearly the Haggai man has allowed moths to corrupt his bag, and that is why it has holes in it.

I can’t help wondering if he is a little simple, this man, to be putting his wages into a moth-eaten bag. Perhaps he is a prototype of the Holy Innocent or the Holy Fool, that mythic figure who had such resonance in Tsarist Russia, among other times and other places. Rasputin certainly exploited the idea for all it was worth, and although there is no reliable account of him roaming the corridors of the Winter Palace carrying a bag with holes, I like to think he did. At the end, of course, his assassins had such trouble doing him to death that they shot him at least three times, so it is possible that any bag he had with him at the time would have had a hole or holes caused by gunfire, even if it had escaped corruption by moths.

To my knowledge, no one has yet pursued a close study of moth infestations in the Tsarist palaces, but if someone with the requisite scholarly background were to do so, we may learn something of importance. I am not sure whether the moths lying in wait to feed on Rasputin’s bag would have been Alder moths, or Antler, Autumnal, Bee, Black Mountain, Black V, Black-veined, Broom, Cabbage, Crimson-speckled, Cynthia, December, Dew, Drinker, Ear, Early, Emperor, Fisher’s Estuarine, Fox, Garden Pebble, Ghost, Goat, Great Peacock, Gypsy, Heart, Hornet, Leopard, Lobster, March, Meal, Mouse, Muslin, Netted Mountain, Ni, Northern Winter, November, Orache, Orange, Pale November, Peppered, Puss, Spanish Moon, Swallow-tailed, Sweet Gale, Turnip, Wax, White Satin, or Winter moths, and I would like a top lepidopterist with some knowledge of the fall of the Romanovs to tell me.

Readers should note that “the bag of deceitful weights” is not mentioned in Haggai, but can be found in Micah 6:11. It would not surprise me to learn that Rasputin had such a bag, too, given that he was a deceitful monk as well as the “mad monk” of legend. His bag of deceitful weights and bag with holes may have been one and the same, of course, a possibility which makes the brain reel. This is the kind of historical conundrum that the great twentieth century pamphleteer Dobson ought to have written a pamphlet about, but never did. If he had, we might be a little further away from bag quandary, and a little closer to bag truth.

“Bag truth” sounds like a Yoko Ono escapade, so the still, small voice of common sense whispers in my ear, “be silent now, be silent”.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

4 thoughts on “A Note On Bags

  1. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    June 17, 2011 at 09:45

    Once again Frank, on yet another fine crisp Freitag morning you have cleared the air, revealed all, clarified the position, separated the wood from the trees. If there is any justice in this world you will be the next clarification tzar and mothball dispenser.

    In Maidstones Barming looney bin, in the sixties, there lived a man, he may have been crazy but him no fool. The weekly pocket money was a ten shilling note, for months the staff were puzzled, he didn’t spend it and they couldn’t find a stash in his room. Eventually he told them “it’s in my bank, nurse”. They asked if he would show them the bank, he took them to the toilet “down there, safe as houses”
    I refute the suggestion that I was an inmate at the time, merely an acquaintance of one of the nutter menders.

  2. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    June 17, 2011 at 09:52

    I would recommend Nige, prince-elector of Carshalton for all things moth eaten, he’s the resident bug guy.

  3. Gaw
    June 17, 2011 at 10:30

    Perhaps it was a string bag and he lived in a barter economy? A sort of Soviet housewife.

  4. wormstir@gmail.com'
    June 17, 2011 at 11:19

    never trust a moth called Cynthia

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