Grey matters

Greyness pollutes our well-being. A dull, rainy, cloudy day in an urban environment should carry a health warning – in bright orange.

peacock

Spring isn’t far away and the mating rituals will soon begin. Peacocks are, of course, male. Humans are not always as flamboyant, and it would take a lot of courage to strut about the place showing off our version of colourful plumage.

My favourite spectacle was some time ago in Old Bond Street in Central London. Two middle-aged men with shaved heads and make-up were wearing matching pink tutus, high heels and parasols as they walked a miniature dog, as if it was the most ordinary thing a person could do. 

Corporate power dressers in grey need accessories. Iphones, tablets, fancy cufflinks or expensive small items of jewellery adorn the demi gods of industry. Umbrellas are the weapons of choice for those who attack the pavements, and on the roads bulk is crucial. A spring in the step and blinkers will be useful when cruising past Big Issue vendors.

oskar werner in Alton Estate

Concrete grey is the hallmark of the UK planners in the 60s. Vast housing estates with tower blocks were built to replace urban slums. In time, the dehumanising effects of that architecture gave us  ghettos that accommodated drug dealers, vandals and alcoholics – society’s low lifes dumped in one place. Scenes from the film Fahrenheit 451 were shot on an estate built on the edge of Richmond Park in South London. Truffaut directed a great cast in this futuristic vision of a world where books are banned.

Five years after that film was made, I went to college with a guy who lived in his parent’s flat, high up in a tower block that overlooked the park. He had narrowly escaped prison by not joining his mates for a bit of queer-bashing that went too far – the victim died. The young perpetrators got sent down for ‘her majesty’s pleasure‘. My friend did well for himself and worked for a while with American Express.

skins at Piccadilly

70s hooligans were often smartly dressed professional types who liked to get together with similarly minded football supporters for a spot of violence. Chelsea fans were lucky to have the Kings Road on their doorstep. The road sported some of the most attractive shops for middle class punks, Sloane Rangers and other fashion victims. Pringle sweaters were favoured by the Blues fans. Doc Martens were worn by everyone from skinheads to Anti Nazi League activists. The cushioned soles and sturdy uppers quickly made them a fashion icon. Blood red, knee-high boots were the skinheads distinctive trademark – the haircut was a bit of a giveaway too.

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