She was insisting on grey. A light grey for the walls with the ceiling just off-white and the woodwork eggshell.
The room certainly needed redoing. It was tired and listless and she was far too sparky to let it be. Too arty. She knew it was wrong, felt it.
“Bring back some colour swatches. They’ll help me choose.”
“But mum… ,” I started.
“I know, I know,” she said, “I may be as blind as a bat, but I can still see. In my own way. I still have my sense of style, of design. I can still remember.”
“I’ll just make it all white. She’ll never know,” I thought to myself.
“Don’t even think it. I want grey,” she said.
Her third eye! It works for her. And this over the phone.
So I bought half a dozen trial pots of different greys – light grey, mid-grey, dark grey, welcome grey, silver grey, gauze grey. Even Paul Smith would be confused. Grey is grey is grey, as any nocturnal cat will tell you.
The next day when the sun was streaming in through the windows I painted the shades on to the wall. She sat patiently, listening carefully to each brush stroke, breathing in the chemical scents.
Later, when they were dry, she held her palm over each of the little grey patches. Stroked them with her fingertips. Pressed her lips to them.
“No. No. Not this. That’s better. Let’s try that one again.” And so it went on for a few minutes until, triumphantly, “That’s it, that’s the one!”
So the walls ended up light grey. I liked it. A lot. “Looks good, mum.”
“A lot better,” she said. “Now, these curtains … .”