Walking to walk in the rain today, I saw a bus stop in the road in front of me and offload four passengers: two women and two men. The women promptly put up umbrellas (they adopted the advanced 'type 3 installation' technique favoured by the elder female of opening the umbrella AS THEY DISEMBARKED, even though they seemed quite young – the Burberry print of one of the umbrellas appears to bear this out), while the two men just put up their collars and hunched into the rain.
It made me wonder, why don't men use umbrellas? Is it a macho thing? Or is it just that their hair is unaffected by rain, or perhaps even improved by a slight dampening? I would ask our machismo expert Effy, but he has gone to play football. Sans parapluie. My theory is that men have nowhere to put their umbrellas when it stops raining, and it is no longer fashionable to hook drying umbrellas over the arm and swing them along raffishly. So they do without.
Of course, the exception proves the rule, and I must admit to knowing several men who do use umbrellas: my cousin the golf pro needs one for work (except when there's lightning, natch). My dad, too, is happy to carry an umbrella (as long as it is a manly spring-loaded one), but then he carries an old-fashioned men's handbag, too – and technically has somewhere to store it post-cipitation.
It won't surprise you that LXF's Andrew G is umbrella-laden – he might be a Northerner but he is also a dandy, and where those two meet in the Venn diagram of life there is only one result: foppish accessories. But why Paul carries one but Mike does not is unclear at this stage. I will continue to observer their behaviour to find some Bad Science conclusions. Praps the LXF readers can shed some light on this mystery.
Oh, and I can also update the readers on my reading progress. Having exhausted the Gemmell canon, I have just finished Sharpe's Tiger: and after the fantasy battles I've been reading about in the last few months I found it quite poor fare. The characterisation is a bit silly too, isn't it? I've moved on to Freakonomics, which shows weird and wonderful relationships between economic and social phenomena – I'm hoping that it might tell me something interesting about why men are happy to express their love for Richard Sharpe but are not prepared to show their vulnerability by carrying an umbrella. Wish me luck!