Ed’s let­ter

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My first mem­ory of colour was a sea-green-mauve wall-to-wall car­pet in our home in Bel­lville. It was in the living room where only the min­is­ter ever sat and where the fur­ni­ture was white, just like the thick-piled rug on that self­same sea-green-mauve car­pet.

In later years, there was my dad’s Ford Granada which was ‘ kapoen’ in colour – a dirty, yet bright or­ange-brown. Of course, there’s no such colour as ‘ kapoen’. That was how my fa­ther jok­ingly re­ferred to it; rather than of­fend any­one, let’s just say the one half of that de­scrip­tion comes from ‘ pam­poen’.

Years ago when I was still a teacher, there was a min­is­ter’s wife on the staff with me. One day she fer­vently told me that when she had her own home, she would never ever have a cream-coloured wall. This was be­cause in all her years of living in var­i­ous manses across the coun­try, this was the colour she’d had to face on all the in­te­rior walls. A pas­toral, ser­vice­able cream. The colour of com­fort and guid­ance.

But one must be cau­tious when choos­ing bold colours be­cause you might paint your­self into that prover­bial cor­ner. As I did in my pre­vi­ous home, a loft-type flat here in Cape Town. It was all in shades of white. Ex­cept for the kitchen. White cab­i­nets, yes, but the coun­ter­tops were a bright speck­led red. Red Shim­mer it was called. And be­lieve me, it was red – and it shim­mered !

That day at the kitchen store there was no stop­ping me. I was drawn to that red coun­ter­top like the sun to the earth. It was a cos­mic mo­ment.

Two years later, the grav­i­ta­tional pull had waned some­what. It felt like the en­tire flat was red. That’s why I like paint so much. Within the con­text of a home makeover, it’s the cheap­est way to make a huge dif­fer­ence. And if you’re tired of that Pam­plona Pur­ple a year later, a do-over is only a paint tin and brush away. No need for ex­pen­sive new coun­ter­tops.

When I ren­o­vated my house here in the city, I wanted the per­fect blue for a fo­cal wall in the kitchen. When I fi­nally found the right colour, Paul the builder was given the go-ahead to start paint­ing. That morn­ing I even asked him to send a photo once he’d started. Alas, Paul didn’t send the pho­to­graph. When I walked into the house that evening, Paul was beam­ing – but I reeled. Be­cause the blue was blue. “Paul,” I ven­tured, “Is this the right colour?” He replied in­dig­nantly: “It’s the colour you chose.” And it was... Now, al­most two years later, I find the blue beau­ti­ful. It’s the per­fect back­drop for a row of suc­cu­lents in ter­ra­cotta pots.

This time, the out­come was good. I have no blues about this blue.

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