There was equal hilarity whenever I raised my small umbrella to beat off the Singapore sun. My colleagues used to rib me about this practice but I found it a good way to circumvent 'mad dogs and Englishmen' syndrome.
While certainly not trying to emulate a Tai Tai with her parasol, my small 'brolly with its silvered reflective upper panels worked a treat.
The heat of the noon day sun in Singapore is unmerciful and even the locals wisely avoid it if they can.
I feel totally vindicated today as a recently release study has shown that 'any fully-functioning handheld umbrella can block more than three-quarters of ultraviolet (UV) light on a sunny day.'
Apparently, and according to the same source, black ones do even better, blocking at least 90 per cent of rays'. Now I find this somewhat surprising as my rudimentary physics lessons from high school days drilled into me that the colour black attracts heat while white repels it.
The report went on to note that 'the handheld umbrella (HU) is a commonly employed method of sun protection by women in many countries in Asia (45% in China) and the Middle East. In Turkey, hats and umbrellas were found to be the most common photoprotection accessories.
In the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States and in Europe such umbrellas were standard outdoor accessories for women, but by the 20th century sunscreen, hats, and sun-protective clothing had taken over.
As we have become more aware of the harmful effects of UV, the hand-held umbrella is making a comeback. In both Australia and New Zealand the incidence of skin cancer is particularly high but in both countries it is rare to see a hand held umbrella being used as protection, unless of course it is a new immigrant from Asia.
Large beach umbrella when basking in the sand have been the norm for decades but they hardly qualify as being 'sun smart'.
I content myself in the knowledge that I was ahead of my time when I first raised my umbrella for a stroll down Tanglin Road!