Monday, January 29, 2007

Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain

"Daphne's bought a new duvet cover," was the announcement. "Guess what colour it is?"

"Green," they all chorused, without pausing for an instant.

So I like green, what's wrong with that? Here's one reason why:

Just a stone on Otley Chevin, surrounded by some moss and grass but that green tells me that it's going to be Spring. And it's a calm, relaxing colour. I like moss green and grass green and particularly willow green with some grey in it. "Vomit green" say my family, cruelly.

I like colours that know what they are and for that reason I tend not to like pastels so much. Read about indigo - now there's a proper shade of blue - here. And sky blue is always good. I like bright red - but not so much when it veers into orange. In general, I like natural colours.

The colours I don't like are pale pink and, especially, mauve. I don't like the sound of the word and I don't like the colour. Purple is fine - a good, rich, strong colour - so why dilute it?

Colours are very subjective, though. Sometimes I'm looking at something which is quite obviously orange and the person I'm with insists, entirely wrongly, that it's red.

Most people know the colours of the rainbow: Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain - in other words, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.

So whoever made that one up thought that Blue and Indigo are different - and of course they can be different shades of blue. If you showed a hundred people a lot of slightly different shades of, say, red, and asked them to say where it slips over into orange, it would be interesting to see the results. Perhaps how I see the world is quite different from how other people see it.

What interests me is whether we see the colours differently - whether everyone's eyes have slightly different colour vision - or whether we simply name colours differently, because when we were very small we learned that THAT was yellow and THAT was orange. It's something that seems to me to be impossible to prove.


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