Yesterday I was almost decapitated by an umbrella, twice. In truth, the second occasion was more of a narrow escape from having my eye skewered. The first incident caused me to limbo in the most ungainly fashion, and it really wasn’t the weather for limbo. Both assailants were cursed, roundly and loudly. Neither paid the slightest attention.
What is to be done? I regret that I was not carrying my own umbrella at the time, for this would surely have acted as my force field. But I am having umbrella difficulties at present, exacerbated by my having to keep on crossing international borders. The gentleman’s umbrella, for all its dignity and refinement, has a pointy metal bit at the end and looks too much like an offensive weapon for most carriers. This is a gross prejudice. As I have discovered, the crass and wholly unpleasant common-or-garden umbrella, in pastel shades and pretty patterns, destined to blow out and crumple at the slightest puff of wind, is also a lethal weapon! And for all its look-at-me-I’m-compact-and-modern glibness, this is a brute of a device. When closed, it is more akin to a police baton than to a rapier; when open, it bespeaks Medieval torture device, rather than rain shield. With their short shafts and inadequate canopies, they obscure the vision of their carriers, who lead with spokes primed, ready to assail the unsuspecting eyeball. And really, nobody looks where he is going anymore. Walking is just one big imperialist adventure, with territory conceded only at a high price.
I must make a plea for a return to gentlemanly standards of rain protection (and ladies, for you too there really are preferable options to the aforementioned unfurling truncheons). A proper umbrella will last a long time; it will be too big to forget in every taxi, pub, restaurant, etc.; it will not be so big that walking down the street is an impossibility (golf umbrella wielders take note: you belong on a golf course); it will allow you to see while you walk; it will allow you a companion, with a reasonable expectation of staying dry. Back when we knew how to be civilised, a man would not be without such a device in periods of inclemency. And if the need arose – let’s say, a young oik threatened to encumber your way with his inadequate brolly – when properly furled this instrument served very nicely as an idiot deterrent. The next time I am assailed by walking imperialists with no style and much less manners, I shall give them cause to say touché.
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