Umbrella gadgeteering

It is raining fairly regularly in London Town at the moment, and this afternoon I bought myself an umbrella, having left the last one in Cambridge (I think). This umbrella has an unusual feature. Like many of the self-propelled variety, there is a button on the handle which, if pressed when the umbrella is in a state of rest, causes the umbrella bit to shoot out from the handle and open, all very convenient when exiting a building and finding that it is raining.

What this one does as well is fold the umbrella bit up again with a “paff” noise when you press the button a second time. Now, this is slightly less useful as a convenient folding method does not affect your chances of getting wet, but can still be handy in places where there is less room to fold up an umbrella, such as a crowded shop or cattle pen.

The problem is that if you happen to absently press the button whilst still using the umbrella, it goes “paff” and folds up just the same, and you are left holding a metal stalk with a folded piece of fabric on the end that is not protecting you from getting wet at all. You can’t just press the button a third time and have it open up again, and you can’t re-open it by hand – you need to pull the top bit back into the handle and then press the button. What is more, I assume due to the increased energy that a two-stage open-close mechanism requires, this particular umbrella is harder to pull back than most of them. The combined result of all of these factors is that if one is the sort of person who is absent-minded enough to forget that he is carrying a dual-action umbrella, one is in increased danger of getting randomly wet on the street, which I think is something of a design flaw.

I like it though; there’s something clockwork and Victorian about the idea. It should incorporate a moustache-waxer as well.


  1. Old Pixie Said,

    October 24, 2005 @ 9:17 pm

    Buy yourself a Tilly Hat go on, you know you want one.

  2. B Said,

    October 25, 2005 @ 9:02 am

    Can you get it in a bowler hat shape to fit the Victorian vibe?

  3. B Said,

    October 25, 2005 @ 9:03 am

    Or indeed in a top hat shape? Now that would be elegant. You could get an ivory topped cane to swirl too, as you stalk through the dark London streets.

  4. fridgemagnet Said,

    October 26, 2005 @ 12:27 pm

    I have a Tilley Hat, but it’s not Victorian, no… I think I’ll have to get a top hat. That and a greatcoat, and some fog to swirl around me.

  5. B Said,

    October 26, 2005 @ 6:01 pm

    You could carry a thingy (what’s the word I want?) of dry ice around with you and smell very theatrical as well as looking it.