Orange, Eastern Spice, Jamaican Bronze …


… Golden Rambler, Honey Drizzle, Dutch Gold, Golden Umber, Autumn Fern, Mexican Mosaic.

Is anything orange, but an orange? Which came first, the colour or the fruit?

Orange is perhaps one of the most difficult colours to write on (my students concur). Jarman gives only-one-and-a-half pages to orange – literally, an ‘Orange Tip – unlike his twelve-and-a-half bucket full of red.

Burning abundant flavourful festive active excited inspiring helpful celebration charisma cosy joy laughter tradition wisdom outrageous cheerful tiring exaggeration wild.

Orange is the colour of the festival; an exotic colour, I close my eyes, imagine orange, and I see streamers, floats of the carnival. Orange is LOUD! I hear the whistles and laughter of orange.

Orange is physical. Eating orange:  fingers peel, face contorts, tongue is shocked by its zing, eyes may water. The smell pervades the room. Dried oranges are mixed with petals and perfume for potpourri – usually cinnamon or ginger, typically ‘orange’ spices.

Look hard enough, and you’ll find splashes of orange everywhere: marigolds; rust; my tweed jacket (and Jarman’s  jacket); rail tickets; orange peppers; marmalade; Fanta; Tango; Autumn leaves; RAC; Sainsburys; a mobile telephone network. Eat your carrots and you’ll see in the dark. A mustard-orange coloured car dominated my childhood. Damp in the footwell. A leaking roof. A real head turner (for all the wrong reasons). Orange doesn’t allow for anonymity.

“The spices saffron and turmeric are orange. The saffron crocus from the Middle East was smuggled here in the Middle Ages in a hollow silver cane and grown in Saffron Walden. Its stamens collected to make the saffron Easter cakes.” (Jarman)

Orange attracts cruel jibes. Carrot top. Ginger nut. Little Orphan Annie. Red-orange-auburn hair is beautiful, and rare. “We know the Romans sought after red hair as a mark of beauty, and so did Botticelli” (Independent).

Red-orange-auburn hair runs in my family. I inherited the freckles.




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