The Umbrella

The Umbrella - What is it?

We'd all like to think that this is a complex, or at the very least, a complicated question. Why? Well, the world as we know it today is so complex, with so many different versions of meanings for every word, every symbol, every sandwich, every gesture, every fact, that we need to define everything in terms that everyone will understand, and believe to be the truth. I saw a movie, just the other day, when the character came up with the statement that "archeology is the search for fact, not truth".

Now, before we go down that rabbit hole, I must warn you, I mean, reassure you, that I will not be touching that touchy subject. I don't know what a bargepole is, or where to find one, or how to use it, so telling you that I wouldn't touch that with a bargepole would be silly. Now, you do know me, so you do know that I may, I say, may, touch it, at a future date. With my bare hands and acid tongue...

Anyway, so, we're here to talk about umbrellas, or The Umbrella.


The primary purpose of the umbrella is to provide protection, shade, a barrier against the elements. These elements are, usually, and normally, rain and sun. Here is the definition from Collins Dictionary

An umbrella is an object which you use to protect yourself from the rain or hot sun. It consists of a long stick with a folding frame covered in cloth.

The other definitions are derivatives of the basic definitions above. Ignore them for now. They're not important within the scope of this exercise. Let's stay focused. Excuse me, can we get on?

Thank you!

Let's switch to a tad of French, real French, not my normal Franglaise. (If you want to know what a tad is, click here,)

The French have two names for the umbrella.

Parasol: which is a combo of para, meaning "to shield from" and sol, who we know is that bright thingy in the sky that gives us light, heat and causes sunglasses

Parapluie: which is a combo of para, see above, and pluie, meaning rain, which we know causes us soggy socks, soggy everthing, but which is good for the crops.

In short, thus, ergo, the umbrella provides us shelter from the rain and the sun, which are key elements of weather, which is what we talk about to strangers and other boring people in whose company we've been forced. (Digression Alert: So, a paramedic protects against medics? And a paralegal against legal? You wanna take a crack at that? By all means...)

So now you know what The Umbrella is supposed to do.

But, what does it look like?

What does The Umbrella look like?

Here is a sample of images. Let me know when you've finished perusing that and we'll meet on the other side of the carousel. You'll know me by the charming smile, greying, thinning hair and gentle countenance, standing by the counter where they serve coffee.

Umbrella 1: A rolled up umbrella, in a sort of avant garde blue. I mean...

Umbrella 2: The inner frame of a see through plastic umbrella

Umbrella 3: A beach umbrella. It's blue again. Note shadow cast by umbrella and position of loungers.

Umbrella 4: Japanese parasols, so colorful!

Umbrella 5: Umbrellas for your cocktails. It's the norm, apparently, in those beach resorts.

Umbrella 6: A lacy parasol. How exciting!

Oh hello, you're back!

So, to summarize, not summerize, which is a completely different, but, maybe, a somewhat appropriate, term, then. These gizmos are, primarily, for protective use. Protective use, of course, as we saw above, consists of protection from the sun and/or the rain. There are, however, other uses and we shall see some samples of such uses later in this show.

Onwards, then to the next portion of our show; Advantages and Disadvantages!


Fashion statements can be made by carrying a clevery matched umbrella with your cleverly designed frock, cleverly highlighting, by design, that you're monied, empty-headed and vain, and all at the same time.

If you're Henry Jones, Professor and father of Indiana, then you can use it to down WW2 era fighter planes by scaring gulls into the air while quoting, supposedly, Charlemagne, "Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky."

If it's fitted with a poison tip activated by a secret button at the handle, you can eliminate your enemies silently in crowded marketplaces during Oktoberfest in downtown Munich.

If it conceals a sharp sword, you can defend yourself against other sword wielding assassins, but not those armed with machine guns, so now you know.

If none of the above three situations exist in your humdrum life, the umbrella is useless. In fact, it is less than useless. Useless to the power of negative gazillion.


If it's raining, everything below your shoulders will get wet.

If you're walking on the street, any passerby 6 inches shorter than you will be at the correct height to take your eyes out with the pointy bits of the frame spokes.

If it's blowing a bit, the rain will blow under the umbrella and wet everything above the shoulder as well.

If it's blowing even harder, the umbrella will turn inside out and will cease to be anything other than an encumbrance, against which you will have to wage a war of brute strength, while getting soaked. Remember, the chief raison d'etre of the umbrella is to keep you from getting soaked.

If it stops raining, and you close the umbrella down, the water will run down your socks.

If you go indoors, with a wet umbrella, you will wet the floor. The umbrella will not dry, unless you open it and lay it on the floor, where it will create a puddle and take up massive quantities of real estate.

If you carry it on public transport, it will soak your pants, your socks, the interior of the bus, train or other vehicle. It will also wet your fellow passengers and their bags and belongings, which are already wet from their own umbrellas, but nobody dare say anything because it's a case of mutual and community wetting.

If you're on a beach, attempting to shelter from the sun, be aware that every 20 minutes or so, you will have to adjust your lounge chair and/or the umbrella. If you're on a crowded beach, good luck with that!

If you get one of those tiny umbrellas in your drink, make sure you remove it or risk taking your eye out as you raise the glass.


Discard all umbrellas.

Get yourself a proper rainjacket, if you must go out in the rain. And a pair of proper rain shoes, galoshes, or wellies and a Range Rover for your corgis.

If you don't have to go out in the rain, stay in, make a cup of tea and do something intelligent, like learning how to play chess, or do a crossword.

You can also do something underwhelming and utterly mind-numbing; such as reading SloWord, the blog.

Just wait a bit and you'll be able to see a recipe for aloo gobi or potato cauliflower. Real soon!

Now, go ahead and stare with disapproval.

At your umbrella!

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jen

    I think of Umbrella Corporation from Resident Evil. 🙂

  2. Debaleena Mukherjee

    You are the only other person who recognises umbrella day. I did too. Superb and acerbic as always.