Winnie Thomson

Essay: Of Colours and Coffee

From an early age, before I knowing the concept, I was fascinated by the bright dots of colour on what I later learnt was a map. I loved the dabs of colours in my paint box- and their wonderful names: – gamboge, cobalt, ultramarine- or the vibrant colours and waxy textures of my Crayola crayons. And I remember the rich colours of the patches in the cushions in my Great-Aunt’s house. The silky black velvet, the yellow and brown brocade- a scrap from my Uncle’s dressing-gown? And the changing dark blue taffeta: the dining-room curtains? Perhaps. Now, so many years later-  I can still see and feel those colours and the gold feather-stitching edging each patch. Holding the cushion in my memory, I go to other parts of my life, remembering how those aunts and uncles fussed over me and made me feel important and amusing, a delight to them all.

So it was a sad awakening to find that not everyone felt like that about me. I am the outsider, drab and brown in my brown coat, with my brown hair and eyes. I longed to be pretty and pink like the Posies and Popsies and Paulines. I longed not to be serious wanting to be carefree and careless –like them, laughing and giggling. Now age has brought some acceptance, if not wisdom, and it doesn’t matter- or not much.

Now silence in my life is welcome, or I can make it disappear with a radio chat-chat-chattering. But deeper and more truly, the silence matters. It comforts and soothes. And if I seek real noise, then I go and wait for a friend at the coffee-shop.

The “Psshts” of the machine and the called -out orders “One cappuccino, one long skinny latte” ring out over the rapid and excited conversations. This too is a pleasure.

And so, I celebrate my life – of colours and memories and I am content : with , of course, the curled cat asleep on the sofa.

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