Briefcase Worry

Oh dear. Poor Bob Quick. The former ‘terror chief’, a title that has a grim, Orwellian ring to it, was so hand-on-face embarrassed by his blunder (for those unaware, Quick climbed out of a car to attend a meeting in Downing Street, brandishing classified documents in front of many-megapixeled press photographers) that his resignation offer was instantaneous and, though speedy resignation was criticised by some, the magnitude of that single gaffe was too great to ignore. As The Sun wrote; “You can’t quit quicker than a thick Quick quitter.” His career is far from over though. He might go on, as some predict, to become a security consultant with a foreign police force, advising them on matters in which he has proven expertise; anti-terror strategies, organisation and, er, maintenance of confidentiality. The question that remains is; what on earth was that document doing out of a secure, locked case?

It is widely acknowledged that times are tough, but surely a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police can afford a simple and functional briefcase? Even in the days before PIN codes, electronic lock systems and ultra-focus cameras, those in command of sensitive information took the use of portable containment of such information seriously. After all, even the budget – a collection of dull, factual documents and a speech that challenges the meaning of verbosity – is contained within a bright red, locked briefcase. Quite simply, government documents should always be concealed in the interests of security.

However, Quick’s slack is no isolated incident. A colleague I encountered in the elevator gripped work papers in his hands as his rucksack, he chuckled, was ‘too small’; one gentleman I saw on Fleet Street carried their papers, lunch and mobile phone (all evidently visible) in a disposable carrier bag. What is the matter? Are people not interested in carrying documents in secure cases any longer? Are the briefcase, the folio and folder simply without appeal? For they are hardly without function or merit.

I actually like the feeling of carrying my briefcase around. I see it not as a burden, but as a reminder, a conscience if you will; as long as I know it is there, I know all the constituent parts of my existence that I have come to rely on, are safe and secure. I know the alien feeling when it is not in my hand, I know the strange, unfamiliar lightness when an item has been removed. It might begin as an awkward, unwanted nuisance but it rapidly becomes a part of you; documents come and go, the only certainty is the case they are carried in.

Smart leather cases are not high priced luxuries either – a case of high quality can be had for a very reasonable sum. Barbour, a brand which might appeal to the country-connected, hardy readers, manufactures an honest briefcase of an attractively simple design in brown leather, currently on sale for £122 at John Lewis. If conference portfolios are more attractive a prospect, Aspinal manufacture wonderful leather A4 folios in a number of colours, one of the most fetching is the Amazon Brown Croc, and retail at £175. Suede lined, with pockets for pens and mobiles, it’s perfect for the man who requires privacy without the superfluous capacity offered in a traditional briefcase. Their leather document envelopes offer the perfect solution for occasions on which carrying a briefcase is unnecessary, and are very reasonable at £125. Perhaps the new ‘terror chief’ will be pondering a purchase.