Probably because my status has shifted from mother to um...crone (even though I don't have the long white braid wrapped around my head like a secret ninja whip -- wouldn't that be cool? )...I have been rediscovering with a new found pleasure all those story variants of the old woman who went to hell and then was sent back again after beating the imps sore, or returned on her own persistence after deciding she would remain for eternity wherever the hell she pleased. Often the women of these stories are harsh, old battle axes, though in the example of the indomitable Dowager of Downton Abbey, they do have all the best lines.
And this is why I love this little film, "Not Without My Handbag" -- creepy and wonderful -- where the crone is a fashionable Auntie determined to remain so, despite being summoned to hell for a late payment on her "Dante Wash and Spin" washing machine. This is an early film from the very talented studio of Aardman Animations and it's elegantly charming -- the Devil even speaks with a French accent.
I also like that the handbag has become one of those iconic accessories for the modern crone/grandmother. There's always a dollar or two, a hankie, a piece of candy, something to appease a beloved child regardless of age, and in some tales, the handbag is a bottomless source of magic (ala Mary Poppins.) My daughter watched this film as a child and discovered the cure for terror was the handbag -- of which she had many and as a child-crone in training, wielded it like a weapon if she felt threatened. And of course, there is Margaret Thatcher's infamous handbag which seemed to rule with a power of its own, causing her ministers to declare they had been "handbagged" when they felt sideswiped, and once before a meeting when Thatcher had set her bag down on the podium, but had left the room for a moment, a minister quipped "Why don’t we start? The handbag is here."
All this has got me thinking, I need to work on getting just the right handbag to keep me out of hell.