Tag Archives: colour

The Wrong Bowl

Four coloured bowls on a kitchen counter

Our four lovely cereal bowls on the kitchen counter (mine is the red bowl)

I’m rather prone to accidental crockery breakage. The consequence is that our kitchen cupboard is full of random mismatched half-sets. I pretend it’s a style choice. A year or so back, when we were down to two cereal bowls between four of us, I went to buy some replacement bowls. The rather lovely bowls you see above caught my eye in Matalan (for those of you in the US, Matalan is something like the clothing and homewares sections of Target).

I couldn’t decide which colour to go for, and then came up with the fabulous idea of getting four different colours, so that we could each have our own colour bowl. I was thrilled to bits. I arrived home and proudly showed them my purchase. Everyone agreed that they were indeed very lovely cereal bowls.

Right, I said, Who wants which colour? No fighting now!

They looked a little confused, and I’m pretty sure there were some sideways glances between them. Unperturbed, I turned to my son,Ok, well because your special plate when you were little was yellow, I thought you might like the yellow bowl? Yes?

Um, ok,” he said.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm, but carried on. I turned to Neil,I don’t know why, but I just thought of you for the green one, is that ok? I smiled broadly at him.

Fine with me! He said, clearly feigning some enthusiasm to please me.

Just two bowls left, who would end up with which one?Right, I said to my daughter, Do you want the purple one or the red one?

I really don’t mind mum. Ok, there were definitely some sideways glances now.

I ignored the glances. Well I really like the red one, I said, So if you don’t mind, I’ll have the red one, and you have the purple one?

Sure, whatever.”

I was a little perplexed by their reactions. I checked again that they all liked the bowls, and they assured me that they definitely did. Oh well.

The next day I caught Neil eating cereal in the red bowl. MY bowl.Oops! I said, You’ve accidentally got the wrong bowl! Yours is the green one, remember?

Oh, er, yes, sorry.”

Over the next several months, there were many more oopses from me, not just with Neil, with all three of them. Oops, you’ve taken the green bowl out, let me get you the yellow one…, Oops, the red bowl is in the washing-up, but I haven’t had any cereal, who was it?, Oops, yours is the purple one remember? I couldn’t understand it. How hard was it to remember a colour?!

And then one day, after a particularly harrowing morning of three bowl errors, it hit me…

Words saying NOBODY CARES

Nobody cares about the colour allocations! I sought my son out for confirmation, Tell me honestly, do any of you care about the bowl colour allocations?

He shook his head, No.”

Not at all?

Not the tiniest bit.” He hesitated, then took a deep breath, Why does it matter what colour one we use?

There, he had said it. Wow. They weren’t a bunch of numpties who couldn’t remember their colour. I was the numpty for thinking it mattered. I guess they didn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling me outright, so they left it for me to figure out. It just took me a really long time. I was so set on the idea that we each needed to have our own colour bowl that I hadn’t even considered there might be another way of doing it. A random way, where it doesn’t matter which one we use. I had to laugh at myself for being so slow to cotton on. And I’m now laughing at myself for suddenly realising that there is a life lesson in this post; I thought I was just writing about bowls.

I wonder why it might be that allocating colours mattered to me, but not to anyone else. I’ve always felt like my life is fairly chaotic, and I think I try to bring in little bits of order where I can to compensate, so maybe it’s that. Or maybe my head is still in the zone of thinking my kids are little, because I’m pretty sure you’d have a colour allocation with small children. Or maybe something else. Since that moment of revelation I’ve stopped trying to enforce the colour allocations with them, but I can’t get past it for myself. I still always feel a little disappointed when I see them eating out of the wrong bowl, especially if it’s the red bowl, because the red bowl is MY bowl damn it!

Next time I’m buying four bowls of the same colour.

I’m not convinced however that I’m alone here, so please help me by voting in the bowl poll below…

How Vivid the Painted Rainbow Stripes Were

Vanessa and Emmanuelle

Me (bottom) and Emmanuelle. France, 1976

There were rainbow stripes painted on the upright canes. So pretty. Magical almost to our young eyes. There were four canes, wedged firmly into the ground, and they formed the four corners which supported the makeshift roof. The whole thing was no wider than the width of my arms stretched out, or rather Emmanuelle’s arms, as she was the one that took the measurement. And probably half the depth, but I can’t be sure because we didn’t measure that. The canes were of the type that might be used in gardening, for plants to know which way to grow, thicker though than the ones my Dad used for his tomato plants. The sides and roof had been made from branches and grasses that must have been found close by. It was difficult to tell though where the structure ended and natural growth started, because they had become intertwined over time.

We pushed through the growth and sat inside. There was just enough room for the four of us to kneel in there. We looked up at the sky through the gaps in the branches of the roof. We knew there would be much fun and adventure to be had here, but not today. Today was for sitting and looking up and around and feeling happy at our new discovery. We imagined children such as ourselves must have made it, maybe with grown-up help too. We were sure it must have been made for playing in though, we couldn’t imagine grown-ups having a use for it. This was a place for make-believe.

It must have been there for some time because nobody lived in that part of the mountain any more apart from us. It had somehow withstood the adverse weather that is prone up there, and still it stood. Perhaps more surprising was how vivid the painted rainbow stripes were still. Yellow. Red. Orange. Green. Blue. It aroused the curiosity of young minds. We wondered whether the children would come back sometime to play in it again. Or just to see if it was still here. Perhaps we would get to meet them. What fun that would be. New people to play with. But maybe they were too old to play now.

We had ventured a little further than usual today, probably further than we were allowed if we were to check. Sometimes it’s best not to check.

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This is my third memoir piece from the year I spent as a child living self-sufficiently with my mother and another family in an abandoned village in the French Alps, with no electricity, or any modern conveniences. If you missed the first two parts, they are here: A year in the French Alps

27 Years of My Hair

If you’ve felt for a while that there’s been something missing in your life, it could be because you’ve never seen a montage of the wide range of hair styles I’ve had in my adult life. You’ll be pleased to know therefore that I’m here to fill that gap for you today. I give you 27 years of my haircuts, starting in 1987 when I was 17, up to the present day. Long, short, curly, straight, brown, blonde, red, it’s all here…

Have you had a wide range of hair styles in your adult life? Or have you tended to stick to pretty much the same style over the years?

Vanessa Chapman

A

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B

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C

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D

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E

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F

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G

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H

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I

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K

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L

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M

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N

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