I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot this week. (Sad, but true.) That may have had something to do with the fact that we have been absolutely deluged with rain and, consequently, I seem to have spent most of this week being poked in the head, dripped on, tripping over or dodging bloody umbrellas. (If that is not the reason I have been thinking so much about umbrellas I obviously have entirely too much time on my hands . . . )
As you may have guessed, unlike James Joyce, I am not really a fan. For myself, I have always found umbrellas to be more trouble than they are worth. They never seem to go up (or down) exactly when you need them to, they turn themselves inside out at the slightest breath of wind, one of the spokes will inevitably pop out of its sheath thereby threatening to poke the eye out of any unwary passerby and—not least—the rain always seems to come in underneath them anyway and you still end up getting soaked.
That is not to say that I don’t own an umbrella, of course. In fact, I own several. There are two in my car, two more in the house (that I am sure about) and (I think) there is even another one hiding out in the laundry somewhere. But, the thing is, I don’t remember ever buying any of these umbrellas (or any umbrella, ever, for that matter) nor I can tell you the last time I ever actually used one of them. (How did five unwanted and unused umbrellas manage to survive my last major house cleanout? No idea.)
It not the umbrellas themselves that bother me so much. It’s that many umbrella-users don’t seem to take into account how their umbrella wielding behaviour impacts those around them. Surely there is some kind of polite umbrella-etiquette written somewhere that should be adhered to? Like, perhaps you should wait until you step outside before opening up your umbrella. (Apart from being just plain rude, has no-one ever told you that opening up an umbrella indoors brings bad luck?) Or that it might be nice to shake the rain off your soaking wet umbrella before coming into the coffee shop. And don’t get me even started on the matter of personal space . . .
Still, perhaps I am making too much of a fuss. Perhaps I have dodged my last delinquent umbrella—for this week at least. As I finish writing the rain clouds are starting to move away and the sun is trying to struggle through . . .
. . . which puts me in mind of another sort of umbrella that I really don’t mind so much. (In spite of my earlier words I am not a complete brolly-phobe.) I am, in fact, quite partial to a lovely big parasol, which moves about only just enough to keep the sun off me, thus enabling me to sit comfortably in the shade while sipping a suitably chilled beverage (which, if I am lucky, might even contain its own teeny, tiny, umbrella . . . )
Ahhh . . . roll on summer . . .