A few years ago I was in a pub. I realise this doesn’t narrow it down very much, but you didn’t let me finish my sentence. A few years ago I was in a pub with a load of people and it was someone’s birthday (I forget whose, because I am clearly a terrible friend) and I had come to the pub in fuzzy beret that I wore quite often. Someone mentioned my hat, which at that point was stowed in my bag out of sight, and described it as “mauve”. Just as if that was, you know, a given, and it was mauve, and that this was not open to debate. I thought that my friend had got mixed up and was talking about the wrong hat. “You’re thinking of Claire’s hat” I said. “She’s the one who has a mauve beret.”
“No – yours is mauve too, hers is just a brighter shade.”
“No – look,” I said, bringing the hat out as proof. “It’s a sort of beigey brown.”
“It’s definitely got a purple tone to it,” said my friend, kindly but firmly.
“WHAT? But I don’t wear mauve. It doesn’t suit me. This cannot be true! I don’t believe you. I need a second opinion.”
At this point I went round and asked everyone in the pub what colour my hat was, and every single one of them said either “mauve”, “purple’, “lilac” or “plum” and I was outraged, they were WRONG, it was a conspiracy and could not be true.
Although I do not have many rules, I do have a rule which states I do not wear any shade of purple because, although an extremely excellent colour in most other contexts, I regard it as clashing with my hair and complexion, and yet I wore this hat regularly and it clashed with neither. Everyone laughed at me for being so angry about whether something was purple or not (possibly I was exaggerating the anger for comic effect, by the end), and around closing time someone slurred gently, seriously, “But if you like it and you think it looks good, who cares what colour it is? It’s just semantics.”
But it bothered me. I thought I must have been unknowingly colourblind for years. The next day I went around the internet taking every colour blindness test I could find and all of them said I was not colourblind, so I was utterly bewildered by the whole thing.
I looked at the hat again in daylight, and maybe it did actually have a sort of purpley tone to it, and then suddenly I couldn’t un-see it. It was a kind purplish beige. Not so much a brownish beige. I had been walking around all this time in a purple thing, in denial about its purpality. WHAT.
I was reminded of all this because two days ago I found myself in another, new argument about purple. I was discussing an absent paisley top of mine with Tom, and he described it as being “tan and purple” and I said it definitely wasn’t purple so he said “maybe magenta then” and I said, “Never say that things I own are magenta! It makes me angry!” Because magenta is even worse next to hennaed hair and vampire skin, and even more forbidden.
However, 1. magenta- or purple-clothing denial is considerably less harmful than climate-change denial, and 2. it was not magenta or purple. It was patches of blue surrounded by very thin lines of, um, puce.
Anyway, there isn’t a point to this or some sort of clever moral to the story, and I am not even going to propose a half-baked parallel theory about the psychology of climate change deniers or anything. I don’t want to, because that would have to involve me sharing a psychology with climate change deniers, and that would be awful.
I suppose it will just have to be a public warning that I am sometimes irrational about perceived fabric colours.
Oh, now I have just noticed that my camera case is undeniably, utterly magenta. What makes this even more awkward is the fact that magenta isn’t a colour. So I officially give up.