We’d pulled up outside my grandparents’ house. It looked just the way it always did. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that at life changing moments, the world around you would step in and give you a clue that something huge was about to happen?
But no. There was no warning. My innocent head had hair that was as fair as a ripe cornfield. The hollyhock, with its dusty hand-sized leaves and pink flowers stood like a psychedelic guard next to the front door. The door was a standard council issued door painted with same green that they used on the benches in the park. Later, these doors would disappear like left-wing politicians in positions of power as people upgraded from council house tenants to home owners. The first thing to go would always be the door.
Circa 1970, when we first moved there, those doors, if my perception doesn’t fail me, were yellow. A faded, custard yellow. Yellow doors to mix and match three words from the titles of Aldous Huxley novels. Not that I knew about anything quite so intellectual in circa 1970. At sometime the yellow was covered over with the park bench green. Strange to relate, but I’d completely forgotten about the yellow until sometime this afternoon when I was zipping up my fly.
Gradually, the steadily employed frozen food delivery drivers, hospital workers, gardeners and the newsagent proprietor fell for Mrs Thatcher’s offer. It was too good a deal to refuse. The council tenants became homeowners and the surest way of broadcasting your new status was to get rid of the standard issue door. The doors meant for the new-built estates looked faintly ridiculous in the pebble-dash setting of the council estate. Rather like sticking a statue of a silver horse on the bonnet of a Ford Escort Ghia. Come to think of it, I think Dave, the frozen food delivery man did that very thing the day after he got his new deluxe Downing Street style door. ‘Cor, dunnit look posh…’ His Escort was a curious shade of park bench green.
For good measure, some of the more cosmopolitan residents went the whole hog and hung carriage lamps outside their doors. Before ripping up their lawns and turning them into ‘drives’. It’s a wonder some of them didn’t hire butlers.
Approximately ever fourth door stayed green.