True colours

Some colours seem to have a strong emotional effect on me. So strong that I can’t imagine wearing red or driving a green car.

Bond. By 1965, the James Bond marketing bandwagon had even reached Ulster. Although the film was forbidden me, the whole idea of secret agents had permeated my consciousness and my mum bought me the Dinky Toy car (weirdly in gold, rather than silver). Its ejector seat and bulletproof screen have coloured my imagination ever since.

Despatch rider. A small-scale military motorcyclist and his machine were in this shade, fuelling my persistent interest in two-wheeled vehicles.

Invulnerability. My mother knitted me a jumper in this colour. I wore it and nobody dared laugh.

Man from UNCLE. Those model car people marketed another one, based on the silly TV series. Napoleon Solo clicked in and out of the window, firing wildly at THRUSH agents as it drove along the back of the settee. It made for a great surprise Easter present -1966?

Mrs Peel. The Avengers on TV had a formative effect on millions of young males, based on a) Diana Rigg b) latex/bondage c) Emma Peel’s Lotus in this shade.

PhD. This was the colour of my PhD gown on graduation day in 1985. I was wolf-whistled at by builders on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh (see invulnerability above).

Robin Hood. My first set of Airfix figures in 1/72 scale.

Sgt. Storm. A Mattel astronaut ‘action figure’ with ginger hair wore this colour spacesuit and had a flexible metal armature inside, which I snapped, causing me enormous grief. I still like the idea of scarlet though.

Shooting brake. A small toy car came with white plastic figures of someone in a cap and his dogs.

Messerschmitt. Not that different from shooting brake (less vivid). My father spent an afternoon assembling this for me. It meant a lot to me then.  (The black and white ‘transfers’ were in beautiful contrast to the plastic fuselage -but you couldn’t say things like that in 60s Ulster in case you were suspected of being unmarriageable).

Ted. My teddy reminded me facially of my father. I still have the bear…although I lost my dad when I was maybe 9 or so.

T Gunn. A British Action Man. I later had to wait six weeks to receive the paratrooper uniform on special order from England (possibly scarce due to political reasons).

Tie 1. My first ever tie also had silver rockets on it and an elastic band to hold it in place.

Tomahawk. A plastic axe which helped perfect my Red Indian look one Christmas. It came with a floppy plastic knife which was less nicely coloured in a dark blue shade.

T shirt. On the way to the airport, one 12th July, my father realised I was wearing a T shirt in this colour whilst passing through a republican area. He made me take it off because he feared we might be shot. I sat in my vest, scared for the first time, that my dad was surrounded by events he couldn’t control.

VW beetle. Another model car which I wrongly though was part of a Lego set.

Water pistol. One of a gorgeous few pistols that appeared in our local toy shop. This shot water really effectively and also helped wire up the colour processing modules in my cortex.