In Sid's absence, Veronica chose the colour scheme. Colours are Veronica's thing at the moment. She's seeing this colour guru. Maureen recommended her. Basically, this colour guru says that colour is more important than we realise. If only we could tune in to those particular colours with which we have a natural affinity, our lives will be healthier, happier and more fulfilled. It's pounds 40 for the half-hour consultation. Sid says it's marvellous how this colour guru woman has completely turned Veronica's life around. She used to be always tired and miserable; now, he says, she's miserable and tired.
According to Veronica, the colour guru teaches that particular colours can affect our moods. There may be some truth in this, because when Sid got back from New York and saw the colours that Veronica had chosen for the apartment, he threw a complete wobbler. Veronica was so frightened she rang me up. "He go spare, Jel," she whispered down the phone. (Her English is improving by the day.) "He not like my colours. He say I am trollop. What is trollop, Jel?"
Last week I went down to Marbella to see Veronica's new colour scheme for myself. When I got there Sid was still spitting feathers. I must say he had a point. The once familiar nicotine-tinged walls were now a deep and depraved crimson. As were the doors. Door frames and skirting boards were a colour that I had not seen before - in art, or nature, or as a product of modern science. The man compiling the paint catalogue must have scratched his head over it. "Mid-winter sputum", perhaps, would be thereabouts. The ceiling was canary yellow. None of these colours appeared to have the remotest affinity with the new carpet, which was mauve. The overall effect was indescribable. What it was definitely not though, was therapeutic. Sid said it was like living in the Odeon cinema.
I brokered a peace deal. It was decided to keep everything except the terrible crimson walls, which were to be repainted magnolia or "white with a hint of peach". Johnny Lines, an old friend of Dad's recently released from Brixton prison, said he'd be glad to come and do the job on Sunday afternoon for 200 Benson & Hedges.
Johnny is famous in South London criminal circles for attempting a smash- and-grab raid on what he thought was a jeweller's shop, but which turned out to be a film set. He will also be remembered for throwing a manhole cover through a window of a real jeweller's shop then falling down the uncovered sewer as he made good his escape.
It is said that as he was led away in chains, he told police officers that he had only been going through the motions. Sid met him in the pub, gave him money for materials and a good drink, and told him to let himself into the apartment as we would be popping over to Torremolinos for lunch that day.
So on Sunday we left the door ajar and I drove Sid and Veronica to Torremolinos. Little-Eyed Dave and Maureen joined us for lunch, which turned into a boozy affair, culminating in Maureen "doing the numbers" for us. Maureen has recently dropped the colour guru and taken up with a numerologist. She does impromptu readings for all her friends, especially when she's had a few gins.
"What's your date of birth, Jel?" she said, turning to me.
No matter how innocently she asks, when Maureen asks you a question like that you can generally guess that some sort of new age character analysis is on the cards. The last time I was down it was, "What's your favourite colour, Jel?" I told her it was "burnt umber," and she changed the subject.
I gave her my date of birth and she did some elementary maths on her napkin. "Six and seven," she said finally. "Your life numbers are six and seven."
"What does that mean then, More?" I said.
"It means you're all at sixes and sevens, sugar."
"That's amazing," I said.
When we got back to Sid's apartment that evening the walls were still crimson and there was no sign of Johnny Lines, and no evidence that he had even been in, either. The following morning, however, it transpired that he'd gained admittance to, and painted, the wrong apartment.Reuse content