Often, when indulging in a bit of eavesdropping, disappointment reigns. All the effort of craning your neck forward at an uncomfortable angle and trying not to crunch your multi-grain toast so you don’t draw attention to yourself often ends up with providing you with nothing more than the various treatments needed for Aunt Edna’s piles or how much Judy and Pete spent on their bathroom tiles. But today, I overheard something that really made me think.
I was in my favourite bookshop - all wooden floors and antique wooden shelves that run from floor to ceiling - with a wonderful secondhand section that is full of little treasures; when I heard two women discussing colour.
‘I am in a green phase at the moment,’ said one. ‘And various shades of brown. The effect is calming, tranquil. I feel closer to nature and the essence of myself. It’s a change from all the black I used to wear. I felt miserable when I wore it.’
‘I know what you mean,’ said the other. ‘Colour has shaped my world.’
She went on to describe the various phases in her life defined not only by music, books, and film, but by the colours she wore or surrounded herself with.
Those women got me thinking about the colour in my own life. I really think they were on to something.
Up until I was about five years old I was heavily into red. Red skirts, red pinafores, red scarves and hats, patent leather shoes. I loved red, not in the passionate angry way that often characterises the colour but in the way of fairytales like Little Red Riding Hood and the red of pixies and elves.
When I was 9, I remember being into purple. My favourite outfit was a purple suede mini skirt with purple lace-up knee-high boots, and a purple blouse with matching suede tasseled waistcoat (it was the ’70s) and I was in love with Marc Bolan from T-Rex. I got the outfit after a visit to London’s Petticoat Lane with my Gran.
The purple phase was replaced by the white phase. In my early teens I was heavily into...