Blessed is [s]he who expects nothing, for [s]he shall never be disappointed. I grew up with this refrain and in the years that have passed since I first heard it touted as the ‘ninth beatitude’ ( for those who missed that class, there are only eight), I’ve often wondered at its veracity. I’ve been coming to Malta now on a semi-regular basis for a couple of years and I’ve come to expect colour – the boats, the buses, the sun, the carnival, the cakes, the clothes, the faces – lots and lots of colour. And, until now, I’ve never been disappointed. When I got here late last week it was like stepping into a black-and-white movie. Or perhaps a B&W movie with occasional flashes of colour.Remember the Shane Meadows’ 2004 movie Dead Man’s Shoes where in the B&W flashbacks, the shoes were in colour? Well, a little like that.
I’m not quite sure if it’s the weather – it’s cold and windy and wet with occasional bouts of sun. Or the time of year – most people are wearing winter clothes in dark muted shades with the occasional splash of colour in a scarf that gives the impression of trying valiantly to hang on to some semblance of joy.
I’m in a workshop on modern diplomacy – participants have come from all over the world: Nigeria, Jamaica, Bahamas, Fiji, Malawi, Mexico, South Africa, Iraq, Dominica, and Palestine. And they are in colour. The presenters – all EU based – are in various shades of grey. On Day 1 – I thought it was just coincidence. On Day 2 – I began to wonder. But on Day 3 – with each new presenter, the trend continues. And it’s given me pause for thought. By shrouding ourselves in shades of grey are we subconsciously mirroring how we feel about what’s going on in our world ? Are we straddling the fine line between the black of mourning and the white of hope? Are we taking refuge in non-committal blandness? Or am I so far behind in the fashion stakes that I’ve failed to realise that grey is in?