Having moved back to London at the end of last year and discovered that, being very old, I can travel all over the city with my little purple-clad ticket called The Freedom Pass, I am amazed at the power this little card endows. With it you can travel where you will within the great metropolis for free. The Freedom Pass arrives in the post protected by a plastic wallet in purple. It looks rather chic.
According to the pundits, the colour purple is associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power and ambition and The Freedom Pass does have something of that quality about it. You simply wave your way through without fear of cost where others must stop and pay. Do I mind that the purple indicates to those who see it that I am very old? Not at all. (And not that old). But it is a colour I was once very fond of and which holds something of my past.
I was married in purple. It was one of the fashionable colours of my misspent youth. The dress came from Fenwicks of Bond Street and I bought it in my lunchtime (I was working in an Albemarle Street gallery at the time). The trimmings came from John Lewis. An Empire line purple corduroy dress was quite the thing, and around the hem I stitched antique gold filigree ribbon. My friend Rachel (now 86) lent me a gold necklace. As I arrived at the register office, Caxton Hall, having walked there, my beloved mother-in-law looked me up and down, nodded, and said ‘Hmm. Purple. The colour of Royal funerals.’ And she was not far wrong. I was carried out of that marriage on the bier of a divorce a very few years later. But purple is also said to represent wisdom, creativity and dignity – with luck these are the things that come to you with age – along with your Freedom Pass.
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