Good golly, you don’t know how to use a brolly
AS the nation scorches, it’s time to confront a less obvious side-effect of the drought - brolly barbarians.
It’s been so long since many Aussies have unfurled an umbrella, when rain does arrive we abandon the basic etiquette of wet weather gear.
The umbrella has - in the grasp of inexperienced Aussies - become a weapon. Watch during the next welcome shower. It’s enough to induce a Britney-style rage.
Uncouth users barrel blindly along the street, their spokes threatening to poke every passing eyeball.
Suits power along under golf umbrellas, their giant logo-covered canopies hogging the path and scattering those of us with sensible fold-away models like ten-pins. (If the “mine’s bigger than yours” war gets any worse, soon someone will start carting a super-sized market umbrella down the street.)
Watch agog as a selfish cow sits her soggy shield on the seat next to her – leaving a giant wet spot for some unfortunate commuter to squelch into.
Dry under their own little refuge, some stupid users fail to notice their run-off is funneling straight down the neck of the person next to them. Gen Y dreamers so happy to see rain sometimes twirl their temporary lids, sending a cascade of drips all over those around them.
Melbourne police have been out in force recently to fine jaywalkers. Frankly, I’d rather the fined the anti-social fools who – despite the protection of an umbrella – still walk along hogging the awnings, forcing those without into the downpour.
And they should also slap tickets on everyone who shakes their sodden shield INSIDE a shop or train, creating slippery puddles all over the floor.
The carnage doesn’t stop when the rain passes. Why do some boors insist on carrying their brollie horizontally, like a spear, instead of tip-down?
Actually, it’s not just the drought that’s created this generation of ignorant umbrella users. A surge in the number of people leaving their cars at home and opting for public transport has brought a whole new breed onto the streets who, freed from the haven of their vehicle, are totally unfamiliar with umbrella etiquette.
Maybe it’s a problem in other countries too? A Japanese artist has even invented the “polite umbrella”. More art than everyday article, it employs a series of strings to allow the carrier to morph the shape, easily adjusting it to allow others past without them having to duck and dodge to avoid a gouge.
It’s a neat idea, but really not necessary. Those in any doubt about the basic rules should watch how our older ladies and gents behave under their buffer. They politely manouvre down the street, adjusting the height of the brolly and tipping it away as necessary. They also close, shake and furl the thing before they dare set foot in a shop or on a tram.
The Brits also have brolly etiquette down to a fine art (as you’d expect given gents have been carrying them since the days of oiled cloth fastened to whalebone).
In London, a graceful scene plays out across the city during a shower. “Raise your handle when passing a shorter person, lower it when passing a taller one,” a bossy Brit instructed me soon after I arrived there for a stay.
Their technique is well advanced. When my brolly blew inside out one day, an aghast colleague offended by the broken, dangling ribs told me I should throw away the sad skeleton and replace it immediately lest the bare spikes take out an eye.
Another time, I left my brolly on the Tube. The office girls told me not to fret: “Take home the next one you find. It’s umbrella karma. One will pop up when you need it.”
Their advanced lessons included how to behave during a downpour if you have an umbrella and your defiant friend doesn’t, whether to buy novelty numbers (no!), and why a rolled handle is preferable to a straight one.
Perhaps we should start issuing detailed instructions to Aussie brolly users. With the way our climate’s going, soon parasols will be obligatory accessories as sunshades. We’d better set the ground rules early.
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