Poor old Australia. Currently on fire due to what their hilariously holidaying Prime Minister probably blames on a Swedish schoolgirl, it’s hot as Hades and people can’t see each other for smoke. A couple more weeks of this and they’ll have to use their famed ‘points-based system’ to decide who gets to hop about in the last flip-flop not yet ablaze.
The average Aussie would give their right leg shackle for a downpour. Meanwhile on this side of the planet it’s winter and therefore rainy season, since snow was banned under whatever arrangement Boris Johnson has made with Satan. At this most wonderful time of the year, people look fearfully to the skies as though the AFD have found a few leftover V-2s.
I personally love unhappy weather. A grey day makes my heart sing as though the darkness at my core has been allowed out on day release. Rain is Mother Earth crying at the constant beatings she takes from her children, and we deserve every tear. So needless to say I fucking hate umbrellas.
Someone wielding an umbrella seemingly has no concept that their device causes the area they take up on a pavement to at least double. In a proliferating city, where even the venerable tradition of mugging is under threat from heaving 24-hour streets, space on the pavement isn’t so abundant we can afford to double the allowance of every bastard scared of a little drizzle.
Yet twice the width isn’t enough for some people – beyond all reason we’ve somehow allowed the golf umbrella to become established in rational society. Roughly sixteen times the diameter of a standard umbrella, these are apparently designed so that a golfer can keep both himself and his swinging sand wedge dry even as it furiously hacks at the bunker into which the useless prat’s just plopped his ninth shot of the hole. Golf is a debacle and golf umbrellas suit it well.
But during Britain’s famous monsoon season there’s still the chance of a little splash off the pavement, a passing vehicle or, wonder of wonders, someone else’s umbrella. For these hazards only the pavement equivalent of a Chelsea Tractor will do, smashing aside all inferior canopies like a Humpback in a trout pond and forcing anyone dumb enough to walk unprotected down the street to duck and roll to avoid decapitation.
An umbrella needs to be vertically close to the owner’s head to have the best chance of preventing a drenching. This design inevitably involves metal spikes at exactly the altitude of my contact lenses. I spend an average stroll in the rain bobbing and weaving like Joe Frazier, apologising like a good Englishman whenever I’m tutted at by someone who’s just soaked and blinded me with the type of sharp weapon that in a just world would get you poked with a Narwhal tusk for taking it for a spin round London Bridge.
We’re all sick and fucking tired of hearing about Hillsborough, but that doesn’t stop people trying to recreate it whenever they come up the steps of a Tube station and spy a shower. There they huddle, wrestling with their umbrellas, and bollocks to anyone who hadn’t planned to spend their morning getting rammed in the rear by a man in a suit. When they get to their destination they’ll shake their sodden shield like a dog at a hose pipe and leave it crumpled on the floor to act as a fire hazard, a trip hazard and a tranquillity hazard rolled into one.
In the 1980s, the biggest dangers to kids were electricity pylons, men with puppies in their pockets and acid rain. I don’t know how serious the threat of acid rain actually was, but as far as airborne perils are concerned it was long ago knocked out of the headlines by lung-clogging plastic microparticles and men with drones trying to bring down aircraft or look down women’s tops.
Since the acid rain menace faded, that substance falling out of the sky has been just water. Most people voluntarily get wet before leaving their home in the morning and it doesn’t leave them with PTSD. But there’s something different, scary, about water outside, isn’t there? For one thing you just don’t know where it’s been – it could actually be tramp piss or Australian sweat. That little droplet edging down your cheek could be the evaporated tear of a JK Rowling fan who just can’t cope now it turns out Harry Potter is a bigot.
Sure rain can make you cold but, if we accept even a tenth of little Greta’s moaning, we’ll all miss cold when it’s gone. And it can mess your hair up. Actually that one’s fair – I mean what’s having to wash the blood of defenceless pavement victims off your brolly when compared to the mortification of a frizzy top-knot or soggy bangs?
The funny thing about water is it evaporates; believe it or not that’s how rain gets up there in the first place. Whenever you’re wet and you go indoors, you get dry. At worst it’s a temporary state of mild discomfort. Rain isn’t some irremovable taint, like semen up the walls in an episode of CSI.
If you could maybe have a little consideration for others trying to get from A to B among the raindrops, that would be lovely. Try to remember that you’re wider than usual carrying that thing, and that it’s not my fault. Perhaps when you pass me, raise the umbrella a little to avoid maiming my iris and I’ll try to resist grabbing it, inserting it and opening you up like a geranium.
Or, I don’t know, wear a fucking hood?