This exercise was based on the fact that some people associate colours with words or concepts; so Tuesday might be green or the number five, blue. My mind doesn’t work that way but I managed this little piece, which continues to please me.
A Yellow and Blue Day
I wake just about six, as always and think, as often, that I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t. An Irish thought if ever there was one. It’s not that I want to die. Life, even at 86 is still pretty good but if the old man who designed my life all those millennia ago had decided that last night would be my last night then I’d accept it with no regrets – not that he’d have given me any choice.
‘Come on Billy, can’t lie there all day’, chides the loving voice of my late wife. It’s Sunday. I rise and shower and shave and put my dressing gown back on before opening the doors on to my little balcony and sniffing the air. The view is nothing to write home about but I like to sit whenever the weather is fit and watch the little High Street bustle through the day. It’s a beautiful early September day with the pale rising sun beginning to wash the clear blue sky. I wipe down a chair, fix an espresso strength coffee and a small indulgent brandy – not very PC but, hell, I’m 86.
Settled into my chair I don the neat wireless headphones and call up the music by voice recognition. These things are just fabulous, no tapes discs or records. Just state a song name or a piece of music and there it is in seconds. You can go through all kinds of selection options but I usually leave the machine to deliver the most popular version. These days I only watch TV very selectively. The radio is on more but I guess the music occupies most time and at a few pence a song it’s a luxury I can easily afford.
I look at the sky and decide to play the game. It’s very simple I just choose a theme, colour, a singer, a style and call up music to fit my choice – ‘yellow and blue’ today. The game keeps my old brain working and stops my listening getting into a rut, though it does result in me listening to some awful shit. Donovan, ‘Mellow Yellow’: as the song starts I mock wistfully those naive flower-power days; ‘Fifteen Yellow Roses’. ‘Yellow Bird’ and ‘Lemon Tree’, accompany my preparation of a nice large brown boiled egg and marmite toast soldiers. I usually make some effort for breakfast. I have the time and it has become a small ritual. By the time I have cleared up and I walk out to get a paper I’m struggling to think of any more yellows. Getting back, I switch to blue. There’s a whole lot more of them; ‘Blue Bayou’, ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘Young Girl Dressed in Blue’, and so on as I tidy the flat and prepare a light salad for lunch.
Prompt at twelve she arrives. I don’t like the noise the electric cars make for safety. It goes incongruously with the exquisite shape of her little sports car. I watch as she parks and gets out of the car. Pin thin and athletic with a pretty grin and deep soulful brown eyes. I am allowed at my age to admire her beauty – inner and outer. She bounces into the flat and gives me her, as always, generous, hug. “How’yer doin Gramps?”
“Just fine Childie. Do I smell old?” She knows it’s my fear.
“Nope, Gramps, you smell just fine.”
“What’s going down then?”
“Not much Childie. I’ve been playing the game this morning – yellow and blue: seemed to suit the day.”
Over lunch we agree – a day to sail: I’m no longer allowed by the family to go out alone and even with company I have to stick to quiet warm days. So, after siding away lunch, I fold myself and my stick into her car and we go through the well-rehearsed routine of getting down to the little old sailing dinghy’s mooring and getting the boat underway. The boat is well over half my age but it remains my pride and joy. I used to like doing the maintenance; even the varnishing but now I leave that to professionals. As we go along the river heading for Hickling Broad, sailing by long-practiced autopilot we pick up the game except that we now have to sing: “And no repeats on anything from this morning”, she admonishes. My broken old bass and her clear mezzo cause those in a few passing boats to stare and, mostly, to smile. We don’t care.
It is a magical afternoon under the hot sun and resolutely blue sky. Eventually the songs slowed as we ran out of memory but we giggle along in mutual content. As we leave the Broad and head for home I doze off for a few minutes and wake smiling. “A penny for them Gramps.” Finally we’re back at the mooring and I sit on the little dock whilst she tidies up the boat and puts the cover back on.
She’s gone now. The flat is all cleared and tidy and I’m back on the balcony in silence, enjoying a healthy pre-bed Scotch. ‘Can’t sit there all night’, says the ghost voice. A last thought – ‘Mood Indigo’ – Duke Ellington. As the soft staccato saxophones hit the note I lay my head down for the short or eternal sleep in utter contentment.