I can’t remember when I discovered I was colour blind. Other people certainly knew about it before I did, because I remember being given those charts with lots of coloured splodges and dots on to look at when I was at my first school – and then being called out of class at regular intervals for them to re-test me. I’ve long suspected that I might have been the most colour blind five year old they had ever seen.
Different people react in different ways when you tell them that you are colour blind. Some assume that you cannot see colours at all. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Some assume that you must get every colour mixed up, so that the world looks like some sort of crazy paint by numbers set. That isn’t the case either, though I am more disappointed by this.
The simple truth is that I sometimes get colours mixed up. Not always, but sometimes. Reds and browns are a particular problem, often dark green, too. Yellow and light green sometimes flummox me, too. And don’t get me started on blue and purple.
Which brings me to another great family myth which needs debunking. I once, as a joke on myself, picked up a pink shirt whilst out shopping and asked if it matched the colour of my eyes. It was entirely knowing and yet has become an oft repeated tale about my deficiency. I have not even attempted to make a joke about it since.
My being colour blind also taught all of us something about our family that we didn’t know. For those of you who don’t know, the gene that causes colour blindness is passed from mother to son. It is almost always dormant in females (which, worryingly, means that they really do mean to dress like that). In turn, the son passes the gene to his daughter, and she passes it to her sons. It was only when we found this out that everyone realised that my Grandad must be colour blind. At that stage, he had been married to my Gran for almost thirty years without her apparently realising. Who says that couples don’t talk?