I have just bought an umbrella. It was a thoroughly stupid decision and I regretted it immediately.
The audacity, that I, who have bought and promptly lost or broken one umbrella every fortnight for the whole of my adult life, should presume that I could suddenly go against the natural order of things, just because this one was nice and flowery and cost £16 from Accessorize. No. I am at the mercy of the Law of Umbrellas and there I shall stay.
The Law of Umbrellas is an especially hard one to work out, as it bears almost no relation to cost or size. Indeed, the bigger an umbrella, the more cumbersome it is, and the more likely your subconscious is to reject it and leave it on a bus. And the more you spend on an umbrella, thinking, "I'll invest in the gold standard of umbrellas! It will be a model of great British craftsmanship and see me through the rest of my days like a faithful whippet", the more likely it is to turn inside out and snap at the first gusty breeze. If any of you have ever successfully kept and used an umbrella for longer than one season, you deserve some sort of tribute and recognition, like those kids in the local paper who kept their Tamagotchi alive for a year.
The umbrellas that fare best, of course, are the ones you acquire by other means. The ones you find abandoned in the office cloakroom, or borrow off someone and never give back. Those umbrellas stand a better chance because they come with a faint whiff of crime - the two of you are an illicit partnership, living outside the law, doing whatever you can to survive. And by 'survive', I mean 'stay dry' or 'not pop a spoke and get binned before you've even seen Brighton'.
Umbrellas I have known and loved:
The Look: blue tartan with a floral overlay. Purchased at an Edinburgh newsagents, because it seemed like a slightly subtler option than walking around in a Tam O'Shanter whistling The Proclaimers.
Lifespan: two weeks.
Death: tube abandonment.
The Look: a child's brolly, clear plastic with flowers and butterflies on it. I was 15, and thought it was the last word in chic irony.
Lifespan: four weeks.
Death: ruptured plastic, and fickle adolescence.
'Minnie Mouse: parts 1 & 2'
The Look: two red, foldable polka dot umbrellas, owned within a year of each other; purchased under the false belief they made me look vaguely Parisian. OOH LA LA I AM SO CHEERFUL WITH MY POLKA DOTS, NO RAIN CAN FAZE ME.
Lifespan: five weeks; two weeks.
Death: broken spoke; left at the office and never seen again.
The Look: Black, sturdy, dependable. My most recent brolly, this was stolen from my boyfriend, who in turn had found it on a bus (as Elton John almost wrote, it's the Circle of Brollies and it moves us all) - as such, it was clear that this umbrella was a fighter. To maximise this, I tied it to my handbag, and together, for almost two months, we were an unbeatable duo.
Lifespan: seven weeks.
Death: Left at a friend's house, never bothered retrieving. I bid you well, Dark Crusader. Thanks for all the dry times.