What would you use in the rain?

What sort of question is that to put to a sixteen year old? It was at the time of my school French aural examination and the examiner put this question to me just to test how I would pronounce the French word for umbrella. ( Look it up! )

I was non-plussed, searching my limited head dictionary for the right word, or more to the point, what the hell he was talking about. He understood my plight and looked at me eagerly willing me to both understand the question and to speak the official answer.

A sixteen year old, even in the 60s, would not be seen dead using an umbrella. In fact we’d not use anything. I did eventually find the word and passed the test, but I’m still non-plussed.

Almost as stupid as the careers master at my school who in desperation after an hours grilling of my somewhat unresponsive brother, recommended him to be a careers advisor.

He’s still telling that story too.