Microsoft word - the three umbrellas.doc
As mornings begin slowly to grow light he feels it is high time once and for all to rouse his
‘You need a job, some kind of voluntary work, something to make you throw aside that
The fair one he calls his ‘Princess’ turns away and takes her daily Prozac capsule from
the blister pack. She is not worried about losing benefits. She is just sad.
From across town, the eldest of the brothers behind the business ‘Palace for all Seasons’
making a token gesture towards saving the environment (need to show we care), leaves
his car behind and sets out to jog across the park to see his latest client. Finding it difficult
to concentrate upon the business because ‘Princess’ is there he discusses design options
‘Can’t you find her a job?’ says Dad
He says he’ll take her back with him to have a look. ‘I’m afraid I haven’t got my car’ he
says. ‘We’ll have to walk one way’.
‘Do her good,’ mutters Dad. ‘She needs a man’
Reluctantly, Oh so reluctantly on her part, they set out. It’s spring. The sun is shining. But
as they reach the entrance to the park a cloudburst. (That’s how it is with climate change).
And there beside the gate sits the umbrella seller. The first son chooses. Investments
uppermost, desperate to impress, celebrities in mind, he picks one decorated underneath
in gold, the handle diamond studded, fabric dewed with pearls. They cross the park under
its bejewelled canopy. He leaves it in the entrance to their offices to drip. And she drips
too. She starts to cry, declining all invitations to a guided tour. He gets out his car and
The following day the first son is indisposed, owing to delayed reaction to the fear of theft.
His slightly younger brother goes instead. He too leaves his car behind, having just
studied on the web the latest statistics on how a thirty minute daily walk can ward off heart
attacks. ‘Princess’ is there, distracting with her soft sighs of resistance to the community
mental health nurse’s attempts to coax her out to ‘do something’. The hospital-based
alternatives sound grim. He says he’ll take her back with him to have a second look.
‘I haven’t got my car. We’ll have to walk one way.’
‘That’s what she needs’ mutters Dad. ‘She needs a man’
Reluctantly, Oh so reluctantly on her part, they set out. Still spring. The sun still shines.
But when they reach the park, an even bigger cloudburst.(that’s how it can be with climate
change) And there beside the gate sits the umbrella seller. The second son chooses. The
latest technology his priority, desperate to impress, he chooses one of digital
magnificence, a mobile phone / computer / camera halfway up .They cross the park, with
cyberspace a shield from rain’s damp inconvenience.
He leaves it in the office entrance space to drip. And she drips too. She starts to cry, again
declining offers for a guided tour. He gets out his car and drives her home.
The next day the second son is off sick too from stress at learning the umbrella mobile’s
not quite the latest. The youngest brother has to go instead. He doesn’t have a car to
leave behind. Can’t drive. He takes his usual wander through the park in reverie. He can’t
pin down the business, never could. He looks at sad ‘princess’ and sees a soul-mate
‘Lets go out for a walk,’ he says ‘A round trip via the park. We could call in halfway, at the
family business base, for tea. Can you make tea? I can’t.’
Not quite so reluctantly she follows him .The sun is shining. It is spring. But as they reach
the entrance to the park the biggest cloudburst ever (that’s how it’s going to be with
climate change). And there beside the gate sits the umbrella seller. The third son
chooses. Nothing on his mind, he picks a basic black umbrella. They walk through the
park, brolly upright between them, hearing the rain drum, from its dark surfaces, North,
South, East and West across the spokes the mysteries of the universe. And she begins
to laugh. She laughs a little more. She laughs a lot.
And then? You’ve guessed. They drop off at the cupboard at the office where his two
brothers grudgingly give him space. She re-connects with how to make some tea. They
share a pot. Then, as they hover by the exit, the sun comes out and shines on all the
raindrops lingering on the black umbrella that flash with fires like those that flash out from
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