We are repainting the outside of our 100-plus-year-old beach shack. From time immemorial, it has been a kind of dirty olive; we are radically breaking with tradition this time and going grey. So we’ve spent a lot of time poring over colour charts at the paint shop and fiddling around with sample pots on patches of flaking weatherboard.
There is a bewildering array of greys, and most of them are gorgeous. White greys, blue greys, green greys, all sorts. Even the names – basalt, wallaby, windspray – are enticing.
As the work begins, I go for my evening walk along the water and realise that, at dusk, everything at the edge of the ocean is shades of grey. The water and the dune grasses are green-grey, the sky is blue-grey, the wet sand is gold-grey and pewter. Grey is the colour of the Australian bush, a palate it has taken me a long time to appreciate in all its soothing, subtle, extraordinary beauty.
Grey might also be the metaphorical colour for our times. In an era of COVID-19, we are all receiving a crash course in uncertainty and, hopefully, in humility, patience and generosity. Now, more than ever, I treasure a religious faith that deals in shades of grey, not hastening to ostracise or condemn.