pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Friday, 18 November 2011

I Was Always a Little Odd

I think I was about eight or nine when I discovered that not everyone 'sees' names in colour.

I can't even really remember what lead up to this revelation, but I do recall that I was very surprised that the rest of my family didn't also 'see' the colours.

Until then I had just accepted that it was normal.  Whenever I heard a name I would see it in a colour.  My own name, Elaine, was always red, David was a particular blue, George was green, etc., etc.  

Oddly enough it didn't work with words in general, just names.

At first I think my parents thought I was making it up and would ask what colour is this name, or that name.  Gradually they accepted that I was consistent in my answers.  They would almost trot it out like a little party game for a while.

Over the years this sensation, known as synesthesia (a perceptual condition of mixed senses) has faded, although I still have echoes of it.

It still affects me when I am relaxed, eyes closed, and something makes a noise.  Then I get a visual impression of (usually) zig-zag lines and assorted colour according to what sort of noise it is, and how loud it is.

What has made me do a post about this odd subject - well, I was just having a cat-nap when a door blew shut in the wind and set off an explosion of bright white zig-zag lines in my inner eye...


  1. That's facinating PTL. I was listening to something on R4 about that and it's just so intriguing.

    I guess my name would be a sort of grey/brown sludge... usually is here.

  2. Hi Chris,

    Ah, good old Radio 4 (I love it) always has interesting features.

    By the way, Chris was always a rich cream colour!

  3. I don't suppose 'Cro' has a colour, unless it was to be a dyslexic Chromium Red.

    I think you're very lucky to have had your talent. Most of us live such monochrome lives.

  4. Cro: My husband immediately said 'black'! It's not difficult to see how he came up with that.

    He's completely wrong. I can't tell you what it would have been, but I do 'know' it was neither black nor red.

  5. I'm told I always wear black... so there's another connection.

  6. yes, you are a little odd... I think I too must have been listening to the same Radio 4 item because this is ringing so many bells for me... or did someone make a film?... who knows, it's a lovely things to have I think, shame its not a super-power... and you can do something really useful with it! (or maybe you can and you're keeping your secret identity quiet...) ... is it a bird? is it a plane? no its synesthesia-girl!

  7. Hi Dom: Unfortunately I didn't hear the programme, I wish I had.

    It is a shame that I lost the ability somewhere along the way - I could have attended village fetes and given colour compatibility readings for couples!

    'Dom', by the way, I can do from memory (assuming that it would have been the same colour as Dominic, and I think it probably would have been) your name would be a dark bluey-grey.

    No charge.

  8. I do that, particularly with numbers, names, months and days of the week! That's interesting that it has faded a bit for you with age.

    "Elaine" is red for me, too! :)

  9. Natalie, you are so lucky! I am delighted to know that you experience it, and know that it is real.

  10. I'm a bit late... I discovered this blog thanks to Knatolee...

    For me, vowels have a colour, u is red, a is green, i is light blue, o is yellow, e is black. I noticed some parents use the same vowels for all the names of their children. In our case, my oldest brother is Gustaaf, then we have Marc, I am Lutgarde and my younger brother is Luc, as you can see, except the "e" at the end of my name, only "u" and "a" were used for the four of us...

    What a beaufiful, rich blog, Elaine! I will dig in it a long time, I think!

    Have a nice day!

    1. Hello Looloo, and a great big welcome! How interesting that you found this blog through Natalie - did you read that she is also one of "us". My synesthesia is not so strong these days = but I have very happy memories of it. Natalie still sees colour though, how fortunate you both are!

      I hope you will feel welcome to have a good read whenever you like. It all began with notes to my son but gradually turned into something I do for myself. I feel so much more at liberty to explore and investigate the countryside, buildings, events when I know that I can share a little of the flavour of them with the wonderful friends I have made in the last ten months.

      Do feel free to call by - have a cup of coffee and relax!
      I try to steer away from controversial, I occasionally do sad, but generally I try to do interesting, beautiful, or fun - utter self-indulgence.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.