Grey isn’t everyone’s favourite colour. But Liana makes a point of wearing it each day. It took me awhile to work out her nationality. She had to tell me in the end. A small country at the other side of the world. Once we get through this thing she plans to go back there.
A small country, she says, where no-one really has a job because there isn’t any work. A place where everyone looks out for each other because there isn’t any money. If you are old, younger people will bring you food because there isn’t any welfare state. A country with strong religious faith. This means that there is rarely any crime because the people have a strong internal sense of right and wrong. And because no-one can afford a car or any electronic gizmos, there is little, if anything, to get uptight about.
‘Just like here, really’ I say with a wry smile.
Grey pervades this city. If you come in from the west, you see it on the cranes that unload the ships. You see it in the mangled heap of scrap metal that climbs up to the sky behind the grey car factory. Grey is the colour of choice for the people who are so beaten down they hide their faces beneath hoods. The colour of the crash barriers beside the road that is always clogged with cars. The colour of cigarette smoke, the pallor of mal-nourished skin. The colour of the pavements where grey people sit and drink beer in the early morning as others, in grey suits, hasten themselves to work.
Grey youths smoking a joint in broad daylight. A great cloud of grey I have no choice but to walk through.
Meanwhile, in a sunny country a man in a straw hat that wouldn’t look out of place on a donkey sits in a rocking chair twanging a guitar made out of an oil can screwed to a broom handle.
The music is every colour but grey.