18 March 2008

in the green

There is a great scene in Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle where the heroine's bohemian artist stepmother dyes everything green. I can't quite rememebr why. Something to do with being poor and bored, I think. My Aunt Mary used to tell me that when she was a little girl her own grandmother used to do the same - dye her blouses green - probably around the same time as the novel is set. But in the case of my great grandmother Boyd, she was preparing for St Patrick's Day. And probably looking forward to a glass or two of Guiness at the pub at the top of Chigwell Hill in Wapping.

The tradition of wearing the green, even though it may have been several generations since anyone in the family was born in Eire, held on when I was young too. If we had no green frocks to wear, we at least wore a green, white and gold emblem or some shamrock. Old habits die hard, so no surprise then that I'm still called to dress up for the day on 17th March.

And although this was hardly party wear, I did want to be dressed in the right colours for a celebratory Irish Stew and Guiness with friends at Ms McKibbin's later that night. The flower stall at Embankment had no green flowers to offer for a little gift my friend, but these budding hyacinths at least were the right tone.

And artlessly displayed by a true lady artist.

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