Brolly folly

May 10, 2014 § 5 Comments

Look, I’m just going to go right ahead and be all controversial. I hope you will forgive me. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I feel it has to be said: umbrellas are the most useless rain gear mankind has ever invented.

I know. You’re feeling shocked and confused. Why would I say such a thing? Why would I shake the very foundations of culture in places like Britain? Why would I attack the humble brolly?

Well, because it’s stupid.

First, umbrellas are completely ill-equipped to deal with wind. What’s with that? Rain and wind are best friends – they love to go down to the shops on the same day that you do, especially when you’ve parked in the furthest parking bay from the entrance. And all your umbrella can say is “Whoop! Time to turn inside out and be utterly useless!”

Then, at the risk of sounding like someone who says “they just don’t make things like they used to,” they just don’t make things like they used to. My mother had an avocado green umbrella that she’d bought as a student, which was in perfect nick until the day I lost it somewhere in Grahamstown when I was a student. It’s probably still going strong.

Modern umbrellas? Bah, humbug. They last three months at most before the spokes come out of this little thingummies at the end or the opening mechanism fails completely and they hang like a limp, wet plastic bag around your ears.

I suspect, at umbrella factories around the world, executives around the world meet at least weekly to slap each other in the backs and laugh at us. “They’re still buying them!” they screech, wiping tears of mirth from their well-fed, florid faces. “The saps are still buying them!”

Third, they’re a hazard, particularly when I’m carrying one. Seriously, avoid me. You’re likely to lose an eye. Maybe two. I’m surprised Health and Safety hasn’t devised umbrella safety goggles for the rain-braving public. In fact, I might invent them and take out a patent next week. At least then I’d have a good reason for carrying an umbrella – it would be part of my business strategy.

But finally, and perhaps most importantly, even in the most ideal of rains – the rain that falls gently, and perfectly vertically, they don’t keep you dry. And that is their sole purpose. They only have one job.

Sure, your head and shoulders might stay dry, but everything else is wet on a scale from damp to sodden. Just try walking with an umbrella through driving rain that’s coming in at a slight angle and you’ll see.

So I’m starting a lobby to bring back raincoats. The kind with a hood that roll up into a compact package, not the kind that flashers use to show off their, um, package, obviously. This is not some smutty campaign. No sirree.

Down with umbrellas, I say. And up with raincoats. (Except if you’re a flasher.) At least that way we get to keep our eyes.


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§ 5 Responses to Brolly folly

  • Trishpp says:

    Especially if you live in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth. I finally bought a large brolly for the first time in years. It is in the car when I need it to go walking somewhere or I have left it in the house when I am out in the car and it is bucketing. Somewhere I have a lovely poncho that you can cover yourself, your bag and all the shopping. I used it when backpacking. OK it made me look huge but at least I kept dry.


  • pipmarks says:

    I agree that there is room for improvement with umbrellas and it does seem incredible that someone hasn’t come up with a better idea. Here’s a couple you might like to try if raincoats don’t stack up:
    This one looks dodgy – but allows you to text while walking in the rain???!!!


  • samwilson1 says:

    I had no idea I felt so strongly about the crappiness of modern umbrellas until you said you feel very strongly about the crappiness of modern umbrellas. My God, modern umbrellas are crappy.


  • mariekeates says:

    I’m English and I don’t even own an umbrella, or brolly as they’re called over here. This could have something to do with the fact I live very close to a main road and two big bridges. Every brolly I’ve every owned has turned itself inside out within seconds of getting near any of the above. I stick to coats and hats, they also have the advantage of keeping both hands free.


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