You know London is known for rain. I wonder how much the average person spends per year on umbrellas in the UK? Although, it doesn’t rain constantly, it is suggested that you always bring your umbrella because it can happen at any moment at varying degrees of intensity.
I was pretty luck my first few days in London. I encountered a little drizzle for which my raincoat served the purpose. However, on my fourth day I experienced rain, unlike drizzle, a raincoat and umbrella are beneficial, working together in a unison as you work your way through the crowded streets – and I mean work! I think in one day I have worked my wrist muscles to top performance.
I started out on a morning with some light rain and a raincoat, but shortly the skies opened and I needed the reinforcements. The umbrella! I took out my little umbrella that I had bought on a “rainy” morning in Krakow. And I mean little, it served the purpose in Poland. I bought it for 5 zlotys, which is about $1.25 USD. I was now prepared. Within 5 minutes, it had inverted and one of the spokes had bent, but it was still useable. Walking down the crowded street, filled with umbrellas takes some mental work. I watched in front of me to see who was coming toward me, what was the layout of the street? How tall were these people coming toward me? Should I straighten my arm above my head to avoid an umbrella collision or should I lower it? I had to be prepared because I had been smacked in the head too many times. So, I walked down the street with my umbrella going up and down. I felt like I was in a Disney Parade!
Near Westminster Abbey, there were a lot of tourists, many were tourists from Asia and much shorter than me so I held my umbrella high. Unfortunately, I am tall so their umbrellas hit me about eye level. I dodged my way through the crowd, holding my umbrella above them all. Now that I think about, I probably should have just used my umbrella to shield my face, protecting myself from their umbrellas! As I worked my way out of that area, I felt a little safer from any collisions, however my next dilemma…..tall men. Now I’m programmed to hold my umbrella high so when I pass a tall man I raise my arm. He does the same thing. We try to adjust and pull it down…up, down, up, down, up, down, an “umbrella dance”. I wonder if this is a British mating call? I better pay attention!
I’m starting to get the hang of this umbrella etiquette when suddenly I am met with the “twist, turn to the side move”. This is especially useful when maneuvering through small spaces such as construction areas. Upon meeting someone, rather then going up or down, tilt your umbrella to the left or right and squeeze on by. This avoids the umbrella collision, but be warned….the water slides along the top of the umbrella directly onto your feet. My stroll has now become more of a walking escape room, thinking, planning, manipulating, strategizing.
Just when I feel like a professional with this broken cheap umbrella, the wind starts to blow. My umbrella turns inside out and I look like a tulip walking down the street. I adjust so the wind blows it back into shape. I now have to use it as a shield. Straight out in front of me, protecting me from the wind and rain blowing toward my face. I can’t see where I’m going so I watch the ground hoping to see feet ahead of me, warning me of a head on collision with another umbrella-shielding-pedestrian. I now feel like I’m going off into war. Maybe someone will notice my shield skills and recruit me for the British Army.
My umbrella skills are coming along nicely. I made it back to my hostel to dry off without a black eye! Hopefully, the rain stops before I head back out, this is exhausting!