Umbrellas are synonymous with Britishness, but they can be unwieldy for users and annoying for people around you. Is there a better way to keep the rain off?
I hate umbrellas. I hate the effect they have on the people who use them. On a rainy day, my walk to work turns into an obstacle course as I dodge brolleys that fly at me from all directions. No matter how tall the person is, their umbrella always seems to be about level with my eyes.
Other people’s umbrellas are annoying enough, but they also get on my nerves by being so impractical. In the UK, rain is often accompanied by wind. Most umbrellas don’t like windy conditions and insist on turning themselves inside out. Why does anyone bother with them?
To keep my clothes dry on a rainy day, I wear a waterproof jacket. With my hood up, the jacket keeps out the elements without poking anyone else in the eye. A jacket made of a lightweight fabric is surely much more practical to keep in your bag for unexpected showers.
A high-tech ray of sunshine?
For umbrella-phobes like me, there could be light at the end of the high-tech tunnel. A pair of Korean designers have come up with an ‘umbrella’ that uses air power to repel rain. There doesn’t appear to be any clear proof that their concept actually works, but I’m very glad that someone out there is thinking of a solution.
Naturally, tech-savvy types have some concerns about the ‘air umbrella’. What if the battery runs out in the middle of a downpour? Does the repelled rain just get sprayed over everyone else? Would it work on a windy day?
If only people had asked similar questions about normal umbrellas before they were accepted by the mainstream. We might have ended up with something a bit more practical.