It was the Dutch who invented the colour orange, because orange didn’t exist in that low country reclaimed from the marshes. Carrots were white. But, in honour of the great sovereign and fornicator William of Orange, the carrot growers decided to grow orange carrots because William was also the dictator of a country further south called Orange, a place where oranges grew and thrived, perfect spheres full of sugar and honey.
The Dutch are like that: enterprising, always exploring new ways of improving the race and the enjoyment of mankind. And so the colour orange crossed the northern border to us in this part of the world, where the gods of rain and mist have determined that everything must be forever brown, brown like brown bread and dripping and brown like bushes in winter and brown like the water in canals and ditches. Although we did see the gold and orange of the setting sun in the twilight. But that filled us with an unsettled feeling of transience, nostalgia and melancholy that we were talked into believing by the poets and that we preferred not to linger on.
Two shiny oranges are lying in the bowl on the plastic table cloth, fruit that were rarer than happiness and love before the war and as expensive as a rhinoceros’s horn. But now the shelves in the supermarket were full and oranges had become as commonplace as the worm-ridden apples that fell from the trees in the garden. Maybe that was the problem. People immediately thought of all new things as normal and everyone had quickly grown used to their abundance, so boredom then set in. Yet happiness and love are there for the taking: the sun shining into the kitchen through the window, the orange curtains that mercifully shut out the cold March wind. Orange, the colour of everything that is new and young and devoid of bitterness. The colour of balloons, the colour of summer dresses and the colour of pop music on the radio in the sixties, when the colour brown was done away with forever. How could something that was brown promise anything good? We looked at those orange chairs and curtains and apples and wondered how on earth we had ever survived for all those centuries without the orange that surrounded us, the colour of the country where happiness wafted through the blossom and Brigitte Bardot, with her unashamedly snub nose held high in the air, skipped through the spring evenings of her life of sin. It was in those days that mothers had daughters and called them Brigitte. Those daughters must be about in their sixties or seventies now.