I revel in colour and allowed myself to think about black when I was walking along this path in Mount Congreve the other day.

I have an intense fear of the pitch blackness since I was about five. It happened in an episode of boldness when my brother and I were messing around in the bank office where our father was manager. We had been warned that we were never, ever to go into the office but, of course, that made it all the more tempting. It was a Sunday and Dad had been doing a bit of extra work. He had slipped upstairs for a few minutes so we sneaked in and were playing hide and seek in all the little nooks and crannies that were part of bank offices back then.

The  safe where books, not money, were kept was slightly open and I thought it would be a great idea to hide in there. Big bro spotted me going in and thought it would be even better fun to turn the wheel that locked the big steel door of the the safe. I heard the click and found myself in the blackest place you could ever imagine. There wasn’t any light whatsoever and I started to pound on the door and scream at big bro to let me out. The door was so thick I couldn’t even hear him outside.

After what seemed like a lifetime, Dad came to the rescue. Normally he would have been absolutely furious with us for being in the office but when he saw the state I was in he took me in his arms and knew in his heart that I had learned a lesson that I wasn’t likely to ever forget.

Over the years, I’ve given black a lot of thought. It’s a colour I quite like to wear; I love black and white photographs; I adore the blackness of Puppy Stan but I still can’t bear complete blackness and have realised that it is something that is seldom found, a bit like complete silence.

Believe it or not, I even got the heebie-jeebies one day when I tried using a black page for this blog. I had thought it would be exciting to write on black but just froze. One of these days I’m going to give it another try because I want to see where it would bring me.

How are you about black or is there some other colour that messes your head up? 





Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

46 thoughts on “Colours”

  1. I have no problem with the dark or black, although it’s a colour I resist wearing as often as possible.
    I remember a few years ago my husband had to go into hospital and my youngest came in one day to visit him. She was in playschool at the time and regularly drew lovely bright colourful pictures. However the day after she saw him she came home with a picture for him. All of it was coloured black a colour I’d never seen her use before.

  2. What a terrible experience, so dangerous. So glad you were saved. No, please don’t use a black background, harder to read and harder on the eyes. You have a lovely blog.

  3. Wow Jean – that was scary getting locked in the safe. Lord, I was sweating just reading what you wrote. I’m OK with any colors but confined spaces make me sick. I panic at the thought of it. It must have been so traumatic for the young child you were. It is surprising that it resulted in a color bias – I would expect some sort of long-term reaction although probably something stronger like a fear of enclosed spaces or safes. I would guess that color is important to you and you file a lot of emotions using color (i.e. do colors bring back strong emotional memories , like smell does for many?) Actually when I think back on your posts, many feature strong colors or very unusual colors. You know, I have a cousin out there somewhere who, now that I think of it, is similar. I knew her when she was young and although she was very smart she had a difficult time processing the written word. Her father – my uncle – was an engineer for IBM and he designed a learning program that taught using colors. She eventually grew out of it and went on to do a nursing degree.

    Oh, by the way Jean, I didn’t want to tell puppy Stan this on his post the other day for fear of inflating his ego, but that photo of him was absolutely stunning. It is without a doubt the most beautiful photograph of any animal I have ever seen.

  4. What a scary experience for you as a child! I remember going to a cave and then the lights were turned out for a moment and I did not like it and have not been back to a cave since. Wearing black seems more simple for me as it does not require much matching…boring, I know.

  5. I go two ways with black: 1) I am claustrophobic so the thought of being placed in a confined space with no way out, coupled with pitch blackness instills similar feelings in me. However, 2) When I chose to go through Hypnotherapy (with a certified, renown Hypnotherapist) a few years ago, I often found myself deep within utter blackness. No light whatsoever. And yet what eventually emerged from that total blackness was my incredibly strong, pumping heart. What I heard (from inside) and felt was a peace unparalleled in my life before and since. It was my heart’s was of reassuring me that even in the darkest moments it guides, prevails and protects. And I have held true to this experience ever since.

  6. I don’t seem to have a problem with colors, though the color Orange if used in a big way is a turn-off. Some colors if they are too bold have an over-powering feeling too..they just seem to envelop you. Being in total blackness would be also terrifying ..this certainly made me feel your terror of your account..thank goodness your Dad came to your rescue. Colors just like scents can have a soothing effect or literally make you sick. The use of colors play an important part in our lives from the grocery store to interior can build us up or tear us down..

  7. Quite understandable, Jean; it must have been terrifying. I’m pleased you didn’t choose black as a background for your blog, and white print on a black background is the most reader unfriendly combination – why people ever choose it is beyond me. WordPress even advise against it somewhere.

      1. Seriously Jean, people with even a slight visual impairment can have dreadful trouble reading white on black when back-illuminated on a screen. A friend of mine gets headaches if she reads more than a few paragraphs. I tend to just drift away from those blogs as the experience is unpleasant for me.

        1. Maybe I’ll give it a skip so.
          I have odd eye issues but white on black doesn’t catch me when I’m reading blogs. Maybe it will now that you’ve drawn my attention to it!

  8. Gosh that was scary for you, and interesting how the colour black affects you since. I have always had something with yellow, but when I was pregnant and wanted to knit yellow garments, I became very nauseous every time 🙂 Goodness knows what went on there? I found you blog entry very interesting as always.

  9. In any other circumstance I might make a joke about something being the new black — but I’m still worrying about your terrifying experience. I hope you weren’t locked in for too long (frightening to think about children who become trapped in refrigerators, for example).

    1. Oh fear not! I’ve come a long way since that spell in the safe! I don’t think it was long as Big Bro got a bigger fright than I did and ran like hell to find Father who could open the door like it was just an everyday door. It certainly didn’t look ‘everyday!’

  10. God, brothers are awful, aren’t they? I hope you got your own back. I’m a fan of black, especially in clothing, but never in isolation. It’s a great contrary for hair, skin, and other colours, and I feel a richness from it. But nobody likes pitch darkness. It’s just blindness after all, isn’t it?

    1. Thing is I think my Big Bro is super and I blamed the safe not him for snapping shut!
      I’ve never managed to find total blackness since that episode. Mercifully, I’ve never experienced total blindness and I’m not even sure that that is pitch darkness.
      I agree about the richness of black in clothes and the like.

      1. If you ever go to the Aillwee Caves in the Burren they turn off all the lights at the end of the tour. Now that’s total blackness. It’s made easier to swallow with all the tittering going on around you though.

        1. Oh I’ve been there, Tara. Didn’t freak me out. I think the time in the safe ( odd that it was called that) prepared me for black black.
          Doolin Cave is one of my Irish mega highlights.

  11. Have always hated the dark, so always go to bed with curtains open so the streetlight nearby can filer in. Live in the countryside so can be very dark, and sky very full of stars.

    1. Hi Andrea, it’s a long time ago but stays with me when I think of black black as it ‘s not that easy to find in nature – probably easier in the world of emotions.

  12. I learnt about absolute blackness many years ago. On a school trip to one of the Peak District caverns the guide gave us a warning then flicked the lighting off. Only for a few seconds and it had no adverse affect on us, but I recall the profound blackness to this day.

  13. Yikes, awe poor lil’ tyke Jean! Complete darkness/silence would be quite a fright :-/
    I’ve always worn a lot of black + accent coloured clothes. As for blogs, contrast is
    key for my low vision RP. I’ve no problem reading dark backgrounds and white text.
    Coloured text on dark backgrounds tend to be more cumbersome, though—also
    light-coloured backgrounds with non-black text). And oh my, your photo is so lovely
    with its shadowy colour… It looks like a nice place to take a walk! ♥ ❤

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