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Grey It Like You Mean It

Posted by Dirck on 8 October, 2013

Yesterday’s unwonted moment of vague hopefulness is past, and I’m returning to the familiar ground of inveighing against things I can’t possibly affect.  I have to apply a context-generating prologue to the matter, though, so bear with me.

When I picked up today’s pen, it pondered for a moment when the last time was that I had used a grey pen.  It has been a while, hasn’t it?

There’s a reason for this, too– I’m not a great fan of grey.  I have a number of grey pens, certainly, but the motivating factor has always lain in the combination of a model I’m anxious to try (or which I think is easily restored) and a price I can manage.  Colour is a consideration only in so far as it might hint at something going wrong with the material.  I don’t choose a grey pen for its greyness, and I don’t think I ever will.  Grey only has a few places in my sphere where it is readily welcomed– at the moment, all I can think of is hats, suits and socks, and that last one is pretty iffy.

Grey is defeat given a place in the visible spectrum.  A black pen, while not necessarily any more exciting to look at, is at least a bold statement.  It has defined edges.  I can aspire to sleekness, and possibly even mystery.  I don’t get the choice of grey, where other choices exist.

I may have been less down on grey in the past, as this increasingly active hostility to the… I’ll allow it “colour”, I guess… isn’t something I recall from even my recent past.  I believe it’s because we’re suffering a plague of grey.  My wife pointed it out to me, a few years back, on a drive through a new neighbourhood to get to a particular shopping destination.  Not only were the houses deeply similar to one another in shape (and each one little more than a vast garage with a hint of accommodation at the back), but they were all painted from the dullest palate imaginable.  Any colour the heart could desire, from ercu to dark putty!  A veritable rainbow of dull!

Yep, that's right pretty, that is.

Yep, that’s right pretty, that is.



Recently, with a strange inclusion in our television watching of home repair shows, we find that this urge to bland has crept indoors as well.  There’s one fellow, whose show I won’t link to, who swings in and does a costly renovation of one room of his victims‘ chosen recipient’s house.  There’s not a word to be said against the workmanship, and the materials are all of highest quality, but it’s always and ever variations on monochrome.  I think after a week with a kitchen involving greige walls, dun marble counters, dove grey cabinets, and stainless appliances, I’d be opening my own arm just to get a splash of colour about the place.  Adding to the bafflement are the persistent cries of the apparently delighted owners of these joints; they call out things like, “Oh, nice!  Grey!  Just what we were hoping for!”

What particularly adds to my confusion over this trend, at least in my neck of the (we have not got any) woods is that we start out here at a substantial colour disadvantage.  New England for example is, I understand, about to revel in a riot of autumn foliage if they’re not at it already.  Not here.  The trees go yellow, somewhat, in an effort to match the pale fields of wheat stubble that stretch to the infinitely flat horizon, and then snow comes.  There’s a few month of slightly greener to mark early summer, and that’s it.  Why we aren’t living in a mad bewilderment of gaily daubed houses to rival anything San Francisco has to offer (and I’m using “gaily” in the older sense, despite the location) is a constant source of amazement to me.

The only thing my wife and I can figure is that people are hung up firmly on the hook of resale.  One dares not do anything daring, like paint a house blue (fetch the smelling salts!), because that would cut out a quantity of potential buyers who don’t like that colour.  If the shows we really shouldn’t be wasting valuable time on tell anything, its that there’s an illimitable ocean of unimagination in the house-buying world.  “Well, it’s in a great neighbourhood, the price is well below my budget, the kids’ school is a block away, and it’s half again as big as we were expecting to be able to afford… but the trim in the bathroom is red.  Yuck.  No sale.”

Our own sweetly pink house showed some signs of this when we bought it.  The kitchen, happily, was the robin’s egg blue that had gone up in 1952, but the living room was not-quite-white.  It was tinted very slightly blue-grey, and the unavoidable association was the membrane one finds around organs.  We both said “yuck”, then looked at the pleasing shapes under that colour, and decided that a day of painting would see it right, and so we got the place for cheaps.  I’m sure one day a future buyer will pass through the door of the place, look about, say, “Butter yellow?! Yuck.  No sale.”  But until that day comes, we have a little armour against the enforced blandness of winter.  Pink on the outside, diverse colours on the inside; it’s a cozy refuge when home, and a welcoming spectacle when returning for a day of trudging over snowdrifts.  Have we considered the resale value?  Nope.  Until we sell it, that’s a far lesser consideration than what it does to buoy us up.  I suspect people driving into their half-million dollar garages don’t get quite the same effect.

Yep.  That's right pretty, that is.

Home is where the Gulag is.

Today’s somewhat uninspiring pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink chosen for pure irony: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

(ps– lest the donors of the ink suspect I’m been putting a glad face on the receipt of the gift; as with most things, a little bit in moderation is a good.  It’s dark enough to at least have some body, and on the page it’s mellow rather than the tedious a whole wall of it would produce)

One Response to “Grey It Like You Mean It”

  1. […] year for grey around here.  Weather, streets, faces, and if you live in the wrong neighbourhood, all the damn houses.  There is, however, one grey object that I look forward to at this time of year, and it’s […]

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