One finger for every pie.
One colour for every intention.
The first thought that flashed through my head when I saw the gloves. I was in a Norwich shop called ‘Head in the Clouds’ – apparently, UK’s oldest head shop. I didn’t know what a head shop was, until a friend explained it to me, a few weeks ago. Knitted gloves with garish stripes, like a Naïve rainbow. I want these gloves.
When I was twenty-five, I wore black leather gloves with tiny golden clasps on the wrists. So fine, I could fumble for small change in my purse without taking them off. In those days, I would ensure that my shoes, handbag and gloves matched. Never one brown, the others black. I would never, ever have worn anything so loud and garish, so look-at-me.
I decide to buy the gloves as a fiftieth birthday present to me from my twenty-five-year-old self. The self that wishes she had been less afraid, had had the courage to be herself, and live, instead of spending the next quarter of a century only dreaming, planning, rehearsing.
When I bring them home, I notice that they give off a slightly overpowering, heady scent. It’s what you always seem to smell in crystal and New Age shops. I think it’s sandalwood. I lift them up to H.’s face. He immediately retreats with a snort. “Camden Town, 1971.”
I call the shop and ask what the scent is. The sales assistant is enthusiastic. “Oh, it’s Nag Champa. It’s very popular – we have three different kinds. Next time you come in…”
As politely as I can, I explain that I don’t actually like the smell – but reassure her that I’m not complaining but merely enquiring. Just curiosity, that’s all.
I make a mental note to fumigate the gloves in frankincense when I am next burning some.
Rainbow gloves with red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue and purple stripes. Red thumbs, orange index fingers, yellow middle fingers, green ring fingers, turquoise little fingers. Gloves not afraid to be noticed – and they invariably are noticed and commented on when I go shopping, see friends or stop off for coffee. A friend says they particularly stand out in contrast with the rest of my – conservative – appearance.
Bright, bold colours to empower my hands, to endow them with creativity and courage. A finger for every intention on my fiftieth birthday.
Red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise.
This finger for writing.
This finger for music.
This finger for drawing.
This finger for translating.
And the little finger for… for discovering new skills.
Both hands for receiving and accepting gifts.
I’ve done my preparing, my growing up, my sowing.
The time has come for doing, for living, for reaping. For enjoying.
Half a century. Wow. Fifty years young.
As Georges Guétary says in An American in Paris, I am now “old enough to know what to do with my young feelings”.