This short story by Ron Butlin is much darker than the title suggests. Does colour always fade with time?

The Colourful Life of Calum McCall

by Ron Butlin

During the early years of his life, Calum McCall was surprised to find himself waking up every morning in a winter country of darkened tenements, black railings and streets of pitiless traffic. There seemed to be only one sun in the Scottish sky, and it wasn't even striped – which perhaps explained the look of perpetual disappointment he could see in the faces of the men and women who lived there. Every so often he tried asking his parents: 'What has happened to the multicoloured suns that used to bounce across the sky, and to the colours that trailed after like rain?'

'Aye right’, said his dad. 'Elbows off the table,' said his mother. At school his teacher told him to sit up straight and pay attention – that way he would get ahead. When he fell in love for the first time he told the girl – she was called Alice – that her kisses brought back all the colours he had known so early on, and which were now faded almost to nothing in his memory. Alice said he was sweet, and a few months later she got engaged to an up-and-coming dentist. Years later, Calum married and had children of his own. One day his baby son pointed at the sky and gurgled with pleasure. Calum followed the pointing finger, but could see nothing particularly special up there – nothing that was visible to him, anyway.

That night he slept badly for the first time. Now that he was in a position of responsibility, he could not afford to turn up at his office dishevelled with lack of sleep, not among his ambitious colleagues. His doctor gave him a packet of brightly coloured pills. Every morning now, Calum is up early, ready for the day ahead. Every night, he slips from one utterly dreamless world into the next.

© Ron Butlin 2007
From ‘No More Angels’
Published by Serpent’s Tail 2007
ISBN 978-1-85242-954-6

This story was selected as part of the BritLit project. To find out more about BritLit visit our TeachingEnglish site.

Total votes: 172
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What are your favourite colours? Do different colours make you feel happier or sadder?


queennad's picture
queennad 18 December, 2016 - 07:04

Favorite color used to be something I thought would be important, but well, this is life, has nothing to do with your special color. We accept beneficial things, so often aesthetics doesn't matter. And the question makes me think, reminisce, oh, I love blue! Blue skies, blue seas. Also green: grass, trees, meadow. And orange--the kind which belongs to dusk.

And those colors make me happy.

48 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 18 October, 2015 - 08:32

I Love green very much! It's my favourite color.............Although I like to wear black and red a lot still I like green color!

56 users have voted.
Elsa007's picture
Elsa007 18 October, 2015 - 10:26

I like violet (purple), navy, mint green, lemon yellow, tangerine orange…. any bright color!
Hi hadia…so you must be the one upper right in the picture?? :)))

54 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 19 October, 2015 - 16:15

Wow! That's good to wear bright color ;)) I love bright color too :))
But my many memories are associated with green! I love it soooo much :))
Btw! Me??? in the picture?? are you talking about the trees??? those green ones??? Yeah I love green and it means nature lover too ;))

59 users have voted.
Elsa007's picture
Elsa007 20 October, 2015 - 10:46

Thanks for the lovely reply, hadia!
Although my favorite colors and good colors to wear are not always the same… People say I look better in dirk color clothes… :(

Aha! I was talking about your profile pic, hadia! But never mind! Yep, you really look green, oops, you look like a green campaigner!? Do you like green tomatoes? I think you are not green enough to be green with envy when you know I have green fingers!
Lots of ”green” from Elsa ☆

55 users have voted.
hadia's picture
hadia 30 November, 2015 - 11:32

Ha ha ha! Thanks for the lots of "Green" Elsa! :))
You're the loveliest girl on this planet after my BFF( she is so nice just like you )
Today, during the recess in the afternoon my best friend were sitting together................She showed me a small notepad on which she had made a kind of color's game....(I don't actually know what kind of game it was.............) Well! in that game she had written the names of color with some other colors...... e.g. She wrote "purple" with yellow color and Red with "brown" ..........................................and she wrote many others ....the same way! She had written green with blue marker......................Even she was my BFF , still she doesn't know that I love Green and can't see an alternate to it.......Well.......I explained to her that never write Green with any other color but only with green!! hahahha! Thanks Elsa! For being so lovely, kind and best! I really really enjoying replying your comments and looking for your replies for my comments......huh! Writing to you is great joy...................I'm ashamed!~ As I've replied to your comment after a month...........that's really very bad! But my studies are tough and I've to pay attention to hectic routine doesn't allow me to get online here! :(((( But whenever I remember you , I feel that I must see what's happening here on britishcouncil :))) I like reading comments of yours , giang, ken, silvermist and sanpai! You all are quite active in replying to comments :))))Hm.............! I'm envious of your Green Fingers :)) Hahahaha!
Lots of ”green” from Hadia :))) ☆
(what's your fav. color , by the way ????)

58 users have voted.
raspberrie_222's picture
raspberrie_222 30 July, 2014 - 11:48

My favorite colors are blue and purple. I really love the lime color too. Lime brings me joy and gladness. Blue with purple quiet and thoughtfulness.

61 users have voted.
Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 7 August, 2013 - 12:35

My favorite colour is yellow beucase one of my favourite character from cartoons was yellow.It was Lala from Teletubbies.Now I have 14 years,but I still love yellow and Lala. :)

58 users have voted.
Jona's picture
Jona 11 July, 2013 - 21:41

My favourite colours:
-navy blue
-cobalt blue
I actually like all colours(well almost).They add happiness to my life and kind of boost my confidence,
make me feel better.

60 users have voted.
MALINE's picture
MALINE 20 April, 2013 - 21:04

My favourite color is purple,i´ts stylish, I like it in all the different tones and I wear it from head to toes.

57 users have voted.
Jona's picture
Jona 11 July, 2013 - 21:34

Hi Maline!
My favourite colour is purple in all the different tones and shades.To me it's the most beautiful colour.
It says a lot of things...

63 users have voted.
Natalija's picture
Natalija 1 April, 2013 - 15:20

I like red, pink, gray and dark blue. I believe that colors can really influence our mood. When I'm optimistic, I like to wear pink, it makes me feel better about the world. And when I'm pessimistic, I usually wear gray or black. And dark blue for elegant occasions. I don't like yellow, orange and brown.

58 users have voted.
fatmira n's picture
fatmira n 1 April, 2013 - 13:07

My favorite color is pink and white and when i wear this coolor i feel good and happier\\\\\\\\\\\\\

68 users have voted.
RehinaParker's picture
RehinaParker 3 March, 2013 - 13:14

my favorite colors iare red and white because this colors make me feel good and happier

58 users have voted.
Beauty2705's picture
Beauty2705 1 March, 2013 - 09:07

I like purple...i used to like blue when I was small...I like colours...they make the world so beautiful and make me smile... :)
That is why people smile when they see a rainbow...I have always wanted to see a rainbow...I have only seen a small one 2-3 times..
I like all the brightly coloured flowers and birds...they make me bloom too.

58 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 1 March, 2013 - 09:48

Hi Beauty2705 - thanks for your comment. I had to reply to tell you that just yesterday I saw the best rainbow I've even seen! It was a full rainbow and on one side it was double! I couldn't believe my eyes. I took a photo, but it didn't show the rainbow very well. I'm happy to see that you're enjoying using our web site.
Best wishes and I hope you'll see a really good rainbow soon! Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

58 users have voted.