Sydney and its surroundings are still recovering from a “once in ten year storm” which reaped both a tragic loss of life and massive damage to housing and infrastructure. Country areas such as the town of Dungog were hardest hit, but in the Sydney CBD and inner city suburbs the damage was relatively minor.
Whilst not to trivialize the severity of the event, the greatest number of visible casualties on the soggy streets of Sydney were umbrellas; literally thousands of them, bent, busted and invariably blown inside out. Cast aside on footpaths, gutters and garbage bins, they presented an almost poignant sight. A fleeting memory of that catastrophic moment when the forces of nature tore their usefulness apart.
Most were the five and ten dollar cheapies, designed to repel any average shower or downpour but not the cyclonic winds that tore through the city. However, the storm was of such intensity that not even some of your more heavyweight gamps were spared the wrath of the weather. Solidly constructed fifty and one hundred dollar umbrellas, with their reinforced wooden spokes, also ended up in the gutter as their owners were forced to abandon what may well have been a cherished family heirloom.
We would love to know just what has happened to the thousands of inverted brollies that littered our streets after the tempest. Were they merely scooped up by the council garbos and consigned to landfill? Or were they awarded with a more creative afterlife? Perhaps they were seized upon by some creative artist or sculptor, assembled into a towering, almost agonised structure of recycled art – their twisted spokes and shredded nylon, a metaphor for all that is rotten with the world today.
During the actual storm, social media was supposedly abuzz with punters posting Instagram pics of garbage bins overflowing with dead umbrellas. There was an almost perverted sense of pleasure in recording the demise of this otherwise trusty ‘storm sticks’, coupled with what can only be branded as a form of umbrella envy. As your flimsy five dollar brolly threatens to launch itself into the stratosphere, you squirm with resentment as a super duper heavy duty model swaggers on by, it’s well-heeled owner hardly giving you a glance.
Perhaps a kind of ‘Uber for umbrellas’ could have prevailed during the rainstorm – now there’s an App just waiting to be invented. Your two dollar shop brolly has just disintegrated and you desperately need to get to the train station without being saturated. Bingo. With phone in hand, you have soon connected with the owner of a Teflon reinforced ‘indestructible’ who will chaperone you down to Wynyard (for the usual Uber sting).
For those who can’t afford Uber-Brolly, we might even see some rainy day largesse from the City Of Sydney Council. Surfers Paradise might be losing its meter maids, but Sydney’s ‘brolly boys’ would be a most welcome addition. Dispatched at the mere hint of precipitation, they would roam the streets of the CBD ready to shelter any hapless pedestrian who has left their storm stick at home or abandoned its fractured frame in the nearest garbage bin.