On my sofa is a bright blue cushion. It’s not a colour I’ve ever liked.
It’s somewhere between Cerulean and Royal. To me it’s always been Council House Bog Door Blue.
In 1960s England, it was the colour of our front door, and every other door on the sprawling 50s estate that was the pride of post war Britain.
At the back of the house, the outside loo door was the same colour, a blue oblong punctuating too much pebbledash and not enough windows.
We didn’t go out much in those days; I was shy, not great at ‘joining in’ and I spent a lot of time on my own, bouncing a tennis ball up against that door.
Some people find smells evocative, or music. With me it’s colour.
If you ask me what colour ‘lonely’ is, this is it.
For decades this very specific blue has signified a world of limited expectations, acute modesty and accepting one’s lot.
I was loved and safe, but I felt isolated. I didn’t want to be there.
Just recently I’ve been working with Mark Wentworth of Colour For Life, an expert on colour and personal psychology. I was telling him about my dislike for this blue, that it reminded me of feeling lonely, and if I’m honest, poor.
‘Sometimes,’ Mark said, ‘It’s not a bad idea to confront and embrace our weaknesses. They shaped us, made us who we are today.’
I thought about this. These days I’m no longer lonely or poor. I’ve become very sociable, I have a handful of close friends and a wider circle who enrich my life enormously.
I’m also resilient, independent, good at getting on with things alone.
But sometimes that little girl pipes up with: ‘Look at you, getting above your station. Who do you think you are?’
I told this to Mark.
“Maybe if you put this colour in your life, your weakness will become your strength’, Mark suggested.
I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant, but it vaguely made sense.
So I made a cushion from some beautiful Cerulean blue Damask, and put it on my sofa where I can’t help but see it every single day.
At first it irked me, a cuckoo in the nest on my lavender grey sofa, brash against the restrained neutrals of my living room. Then I started to accept it, got used to seeing it.
Once or twice I swear I heard a voice whisper: ‘This colour will enrich your life and surround you with lovely people’.
Don’t be daft, I told it. You’re just a bloody cushion.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
For years I’ve had a dream to open a shop, a place where I can colour and style clients and dress them in gorgeous clothes and accessories.
But I was never brave enough.
I’d been looking for premises for months, but nothing seemed right. Then one day a friend told me about a place she thought I’d like. There was a warm cafe, friendly people, some lovely little shops.
And one of them was empty.
The minute I got there I felt at home. I made my way to the empty unit in a sunny, peaceful courtyard, once the pigpens of a farm that’s making the most of itself.
As I rounded the corner, my heart missed a beat.
The shop doors were a jolly bright blue that mirrored the clear Norfolk sky.
There was no denying: It was definitely Council House Bog Door Blue.
Do I believe in ‘signs’? I dunno. But this felt like a good one, and I set up Lois Reloved boutique dress agency at White House Farm, on the outskirts of Norwich.
It’s full of gorgeous pre-owned fashions, my conscious effort to re-use of all those lovely clothes and accessories that clutter my clients’ wardrobes.
My customers can find great style without costing the earth.
I also run colour and style workshops, host other creative courses and have big plans for fashion shows with a difference.
I’ve decided to think differently about Council House Bog Door Blue.
It no longer feels lonely. It’s enriching, expansive, like diving into an ocean of opportunity.
I’d go as far to say it’s a colour I’ve come to love.
Until next time,
Sarah, Being Lois x