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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Sending in the Paras
Finding Japanese people to interview about the Cotswolds in hot weather in the UK is in one sense really easy: just follow the parasols. Not that everyone carries a parasol (and I admit that those who do are not a randomised sample, being largely adult females), but parasols are easy to spot at a distance, and you can be pretty sure that anyone carrying one will be east Asian. Not necessarily Japanese, of course - there were more Chinese than Japanese at Bourton-on-the-Water the other day, for example - but it's a start.

I bought my parasol (or higasa - literally, "sun umbrella") in Tokyo last year, and I use it quite often, being fond of neither sunburn nor suncream. However, in Bristol I've so far seen precisely one other white person carrying one. When I walked past a Romsey school the other day, a pupil shouted, "It's not raining!", and I felt a bit like Odysseus when he'd walked so far inland that people mistook his oar for a winnowing shovel...

Googling parasols just now, I find that the ones on sale in the UK are not what I first think of as parasols at all, but big garden devices for shading your patio. What would Monet have thought? Why would people abandon such opportunities for elegance?

Do people carry parasols where you live, reader?

People don't carry parasols in North Wales, but I am seriously tempted to buy one. I have been getting by with a floppy hat, but that doesn't protect my arms and shoulders. I wear a tinted moisturiser on my face, which has a sunscreen, but I hate having to keep sloshing sticky lotions on my arms, I am thus condemned to wearing long-sleeved t-shirts at the moment.

I do feel it's an accessory whose time has come (again). Feel free to join me in setting this trend!

I haven't seen any parasols here, except over pushchairs, but I have dug out my fan.

Admittedly it is not an elegant thing of ivory and silk, but a great heavy clattering thing that I used to use for Tai Chi weapons practise. But it does create quite a nice breeze.

Fans are also definitely a Good Thing, and underused.

They do not, but then, we're known for considering umbrellas in general as a thing only tourists do. ;) That said, I was listening to NPR recently and there was some story about a man in (some hot city...in the southwest I suppose?) who had been responsible for an initiative to distribute umbrellas to people in the city during a heatwave, in an attempt to cut down on people collapsing from the heat and such. The local authorities and the show itself made much of him and his 'innovation', which I admit is a clever idea, but hardly original. I was in the car with my aunt at the time, and mentioned, 'isn't that basically just a parasol? A good idea, but they have been around for a while.'

I have one I always take to period events, where you can get away with it a bit more. That's in WA - in Aber, of course, it would be handy to fight off seagulls with, but the wind and the bird crap would destroy it in the end.

I've reached an age (or state of cynicism, take your pick) where I no longer care too much about getting away with it, but the gulls and Aber wind would be formidable impediments!

As it happens, I've just come back from a walk on the waterfront where I saw someone carrying one. She was neither elderly nor Asian, just somebody who fancied walking with shade, I guess!

That's very cheering!

I've seen women who use a parasol many times in Japan, they are twenties, or thirties, or old women, but, I wonder why, I've never seen high school girls use a parasol in Japan.

It's a good question! When I stayed at 東京女子大 last year, many of the students carried parasols. I suppose they would have just left high school - but high school girls themselves? Never.

That may be an unspoken rule, it called "Girl code"... "High school girl has never carried parasols!" haha

Here in Oxford, which is as full of tourists as ever, I've seen plenty of Asians carrying parasols. And interestingly enough, quite a few white women carrying what I suspect are actually umbrellas, but they're not heavy black affairs, so the wielders can pretend they're parasols.

If I were more entrepreneurial than I am, I would be writing my letter to Dragon's Den right now to propose a parasol business.


When I was in Australia parasols were easy to find and my red haired daughter had a beautiful one. I was envious and purchased a lace and pink satin affair but was unable to get it into the suitcase at the end of my visit. I liked it but it cuts down on hands available for carrying stuff.

Shame about the suitcase! It sounds lovely.