Thursday, May 11, 2006

I suppose my umbrella

In Howard's End, Leonard Bast loses his umbrella and just cannot get over it. My favourite line in the book is him thinking, "I suppose my umbrella wil be all right... I don't really mind about it. I will think about the music instead. I suppose my umbrella will be all right". And I do so understand, having a similarly one-tracked mind, and a special attachment to my umbrella. My umbrella is wonderful and oft-complimented, and if you were as bereft of style as I am, you would be happy to own at least one thing that invites admiration (I am fortunate to also have many pairs of red shoes). My umbrella is a Totes Novelty Supermini Umbrella that is black with ducks round its border and the phrase "Lovely weather for ducks" printed among them. I bought it at the John Lewis in Nottingham in 2003, where it cost about 15 quid, which was too much for an umbrella, and such an extragence- a department store extravagence no less- which was monumental in those days (and these, come to think of it). And to prove just how responsible, and deserving of a posh umbrella, I am, I have kept it close to me for three years, keeping it out of strong winds, dashing just in time back into restaurants where it has been forgotten and never once leaving it on the train. The duck umbrella has lasted me through English rain and Japanese typhoons, and now I pull it out for a rainy Canadian day, and I find there is a small hole in it. Wear and tear, no doubt. And it's not yet retireable. There's still some life in her yet, but it's just painfully sad to contemplate the future without her.

*Along the lines of Leonard Bast-ian preoccupation, there was another book I read in the past few months in which an umbrella is misplaced to great distress. I cannot remember for the life of me which it was. Does anyone else? This is driving me a bit mad.