500 tones / 500 words

Grey is not for people who see the world in black and white. Grey was already given over to nuance long before E. L. James made it explicit in 50 shades. Only 10%, incidentally, of the 500 different tones of grey it is claimed the human eye can distinguish. Grey is not a statement: grey is the scale that falls between absolutes. Grey has an emotional range that stretches from the gutter to the stars. 

Grey is my colour: a colour of subtlety; inbetweeness; a maybe. 

I am not a pale grey like fog that almost tips over into silver. That is too much of the moon for me: too wistful, too ethereal. Not a Dove grey either, that is too polite.  A chaste, whispering sort of colour suggestive of a character in a Victorian novel. A colour of repentance or regret: a governess grey; a spinster grey; a grey of forgetfulness; a grey for mourning and memory. Not an ash grey, the dust with all burnt out except a faint whisper of yellow and red ochre. Certainly not Pantone numbers 400, 406, and 408 these are too mauve and introspective. These greys are made for dreamers. 

7546, Slate grey is my grey. It lies at the darker end of the scale near liquorice. Not as dramatic and unfathomable as black but muted and full of possibility. It is close in tone to charcoal, but that grey is too moody.  Linked to the mystery and singularity of the charcoal burners with associations of transformation through ancient speculative alchemical practices. I confess I am not particularly impressed by dramatic reactions, alchemical or otherwise.

Slate, by contrast is formed by compression and layering over time. Slate grey is a sum of many parts and not the product of transmutation through fire. Undercurrents of mauve, serpentine green and indigo jostle for attention. Slate grey has many stories: it is a survivor.

Slate grey is practical. It is intimately domestic, the colour of roofs, of hearths and headstones. Slate grey is formal and given to perfectionism. It is a stickler for etiquette, good manners and protocol.

Slate grey is always grown up.

Grey is unobtrusive but it works hard. The recent darling of interior designers, slate grey along with a supporting tonal cast can be found performing with other colours and encouraging more vibrant tones to hold centre stage. Grey is not however, promiscuous and ready to entertain congress with any old colour. Tones of grey are precise and have standards; pair with the wrong one and a merciless personality clash is inevitable.   

Slate is certainly not a showy colour but rather understated and inscrutable. Gray is frequently associated with humility and is often the cloth colour of religious orders. Grey speaks quietly. It is at home in a grey area. That is not to agree with the pop psychologists who equate grey with conservativism, indecision and compromise.  Grey is philosophical and appreciates both sides of an argument. Nothing ever simply fades to grey.