COLUMN: December 14, 2017

It’s not easy seeing green

WHEN I tell people my favourite colour is green – for example, whenever I am interviewed by Smash Hits or Look In – they look at me askance.

“Green?” they say. “That is a very unlucky colour.” I usually ask them to explain, but they cannot. “I have green eyes,” I say, “and I am not… oh, yes, I see what you mean.”

Green is certainly discriminated against in the colour community. Some people say “red and green should never be seen”. Many more say “blue and green should never be seen”. But both camps clearly agree that green is a bad ‘un, associated with sickness and envy.

Even when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby invented The Incredible Hulk they must have had a conversation about his hue. “What colour, Jack, should we make our big angry monster? Shall we make him red, the colour traditionally associated with rage?”

“No, Stan, we will make him green, to symbolise his terrible curse.”

“Excelsior, Jack. Right, I’m off to be a film star while you die in virtual penury.”

Despite the slurs against its character, I remain a fan of green. It soothes me when I see it, unless I am camping and it means something has gone very wrong with my ground sheet.

And a few years ago I found my perfect green, a shade which somehow, for reasons I do not understand, made me feel at peace with everything. And, when you consider that I can become angry about onion soup and bollards and literally anything else, that is quite the thing.

It was a green bauble in a garden centre, hanging among other, more boring colours, and it stopped me dead. I cannot describe this green, apart from to say it was at once more blue and more gold than any other green I had ever seen, which should be impossible but somehow was not.

I had to buy it – it was only a couple of pounds – but you can’t buy things if you’ve left your stupid wallet on your stupid bedside cabinet and all your stupid change in your other stupid trousers. I went home to get cash, but by the time I got back to the garden centre, my green had gone.

I have spent much of the time since looking for “my green”, unable to describe it, but knowing I would recognise it if I saw it. I’ve looked at paintings, at colour charts, in books, everywhere. Google is a marvellous thing, but “that shade of green I like” is not a search term which has brought me much joy.

I have been Elmer Fudd in search of Bugs Bunny for years, driven to distraction at times.

And then, last week, as I was walking through a department store, I saw it. It was a bauble again – perhaps it is a colour that only works on spheres.

What’s more, there were loads of them, all packed in boxes with other, lesser colours. And I had my wallet this time.

But I was on the way to work, and if there’s one thing you can’t take into a newspaper office, for fear of distracting the younger reporters, it’s a box of shiny baubles.

I went back a few days later to claim my victory. And all the boxes had been sold. I actually gibbered. In public…

“Mum, can we get these?”

I looked. There was a boy, aged about eight or nine, holding the last box of my baubles. It must have been hidden behind other, rubbish baubles. My eye twitched. I looked at his mother, hoping that she would be a terrible misery guts.

“No, put them back,” she said. The boy tutted and did as he was told. I felt bad for him for a moment and then, after he left, pounced on my green.

Now they are sitting on my tree, and I feel guilty that that boy is going to have the same long quest to find that colour as I had.

So this is a message to that boy. If you are that boy, and this is several years later, and you Google in desperation “that shade of green I like”, you will probably have found this column online, and I will give you one of my baubles.

But if you’re not that boy, and you’re trying to con me, don’t even bother. I’m not as green as I’m cabbage-looking.

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