I often imagine things in black and white, like my brain gets stuck in monotone flashbacks to pre-technicolour days. I suppose they are the days that seem simple because I do not live them. How busy reality is, how full of colour, how lacking in peace. The crosshatches and smudges of grey etch out cityscapes in my mind as if they were real.
My favourite time of day is 5am, and my least favourite time of day is 5pm. Five am is an oasis bookended by ignorant sleep and required busyness. Mostly the world hasn’t quite started then and it is just me and my imaginary monochromatic scenes, my black and grey furniture, my white walls. That bit about my decor is real and I never realised how colourless my lounge is until I wrote that sentence. The only spots of colour are my books, and a corner shelf stacked with board games, and I have to open those. Their stories don’t assault me, I choose to read them, and I close them as and when is necessary. Even the ten illustrated Bertrand Russell quotes that are framed on my wall are black and white.
My least favourite time of day is 5pm and that’s usually because my days are busy and just when I need to unwind it’s time to pick up my son and he is so colourful. He is the most full of colour. Before he was born the colour in my world was pastel but he made it technicolour. The brights are brighter and the darks are darker. Sometimes I need him to be a calm muted green, a soft blue, a rosy pink, but he is a Britto of bold shapes and bright orange and zinging purple and sunshine yellow that explodes everywhere, and I love his sunshine! but sometimes I need a calm muted green, or a black and white cityscape.
I read once that you can switch smartphones to greyscale; designed for visually impaired users, but as an anti-distraction method it apparently loosens the allure and addiction of social media.
You know that time between finishing an exam early, and being allowed to leave? I almost always finish exams early, and I doodle, because I’m incapable of doing nothing. Whenever I doodle, I draw cityscapes. Buildings of different shapes and sizes, windows that are never quite straight. The odd bush here and there. I draw lines of them above and below text on the question papers, sometimes I draw people sitting on the edge, or reaching down to pull someone up, or birds in the clouds, the birds are the easy bit, you know how you can just draw two small curved lines and it looks like a flying bird? I draw cityscapes, in monochrome.
I started doodling buildings at a quiz night once, and my friends joined in, and it was hilarious, but it wasn’t the same. Once at quiz night the answer to a question about pressure was “diamond” and this woman who was sitting quietly by herself yelled out “DIAMOND. The answer is diamond!” there was something so urgent to her that the entire pub knew it. Wonderfully, the quizmaster said “thanks, crazy cat lady” and I realise as I type it out that it’s a bit offensive but it was very strange and also funny at the time. Quiz nights bookended a brief relationship for me once. I have a lot of thoughts about quiz but I still go.
When I think about peace I think in black and white and cities, not mountains or beaches or forests. I like cities at night, when all the lights are laid out, in horizontal and vertical shapes.
I also like miniature houses. As in, tiny sculpted ones, made out of matchsticks or clay or papier-mâché. One day I’ll have time to build myself a tiny city that will be so light I can attach it to my wall with blu-tack, which is necessary because I will probably never own a house, so I can only live in other people’s houses and never leave a mark on the white walls.