Join me in the colour-blind club

Grocott's Mail - - MOTORING -

When peo­ple learn that you are colour-blind they usu­ally feel com­pelled to ask a set of fairly pre­dictable ques­tions. “What colour is this?”; “What colours can’t you see?”; “What does blue look like to you?”; “So, is every­thing … like black and white?” and so on. Some­times the an­swers cause amuse­ment or fas­ci­na­tion and some­times sym­pa­thy: “Ag shame, that must be so weird”.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s not weird at all – af­ter 63 years I’ve kind of got­ten used to be­ing par­tially colour-blind. It is some­thing peo­ple, usu­ally men, are born with and that does not change sig­nif­i­cantly through­out an av­er­age life­span. There is no stan­dard type of colour-blind­ness. All the colour blind peo­ple I have ever met ex­pe­ri­ence slight vari­a­tions. My brother and I are both par­tially colour-blind but we have slight dif­fer­ences. We are both fairly run-of-themill green/red colour-blind, but not ex­actly the same. I found out I was colour-blind the hard way – when I was quite young.

Traf­fic lights are not a prob­lem at all be­cause I know they are red, am­ber and white. You go on the green and I go on the white.

A green camel might be ab­surd to you, but it wasn’t to me when I drew one in pri- mary school. My teacher had a hys­ter­i­cal fit and treated me as if I were an un­der­ground sabo­teur. Fol­low­ing the fine teach­ing method­ol­ogy of the time, she screamed at me, gave me pun­ish­ment but never for a mo­ment did she con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of an in­no­cent rea­son for my green camel.

The most dif­fi­cult ques­tion to an­swer clearly is, “What do you see green as?”. This is com­pli­cated be­cause the colour – to me any­way – is de­pen­dent on its shade and tex­ture.

So for ex­am­ple, what you might see as healthy green grass, I see a bright or­ange lawn. No, I’m not kid­ding. My green car looks green, but other cars decked out in a some­what dif­fer­ent shade could look, grey­ish.

Traf­fic lights are not a prob­lem at all be­cause I know they are red, am­ber and white. You go on the green and I go on the white. So if any­one asks how do I drive, the stock an­swer is “rather well, thank-you”. When I did my driv­ing li­cence test way back in the mists of time, they showed me a card­board sheet with coloured circles and asked the colours. I had no prob­lem with the red and the am­ber, and when they showed a brown cir­cle I still had no prob­lem, I sim­ply told them it was green and passed the colour-blind­ness test with fly­ing colours.

In my teens, I took a greater in­ter­est in the phe­nom­e­non and dis­cov­ered tests that claimed to re­veal what type of colour-blind­ness you had. Silly sods.

Just be­cause you have one mi­nor chal­lenge, it does not mean you are stupid.

The pages of th­ese tests were cov­ered in a scram­ble of small, coloured dots and, de­pend­ing on your par­tic­u­lar colour-blind­ness, you would see a dif­fer­ent num­ber. I quickly learnt that if I saw an eight, I should say 20; or if I saw 13, I should say five. It was easy to prove that my colour vi­sion was per­fect.

Yes, it is an­noy­ing. I can’t eat a banana with­out ask­ing some­one if it is the right colour and there are other mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tions. But over­all, it’s not bad at all. I still en­joy a rather colour­ful world even though the colours I see might not be quite the same as the ones you see.

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