Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Colour Blindness

There were three characteristics I have that as a young child I was unaware of, namely
  1. Red-green colour blindness
  2. Short sightedness
  3. Speech problem
Now none of these could be described as handicaps, at worse just deficiency, but the point is I was unaware of them. In this a post I will discuss colour blindness, the other two in later posts.

My elder brother was also colour blind so perhaps this had been discussed at home but it did not register with me. The first time it effected me was when I was 5 or 6 years old,  about 1952 or 1953. I was at school and we were drawing a picture of a daffodil, probably an Easter Card for our mothers. We were all at our desks, the old fashioned type with a lifting lid.

When the teacher saw my picture she instructed me to stand on my chair with my hands on my head and told the other children to  "Look at silly Roddy's painting, his daffodil is orange not yellow!" I gazed down from my high vantage point and for the life of me could see no difference in the colour of my daffodil to the others. Luckily these type of incidents did not bother me but I never forgot it.

In the 1950s schools were visited by nurses and doctors and everyone eyes were tested and I was soon diagnosed with red-green colour blindness but I did not worry about it.

In fact it was not until I was 17 can I remember the next incident. I was now playing rugby for the small market town Alcester in Warwickshire. We played in red and black hoops, just like Moseley but some many skill levels lower. I am told to most people red is a vibrant colour but not so for me, so when the shirts were old they merged into one near black colour. Now being short and short-sighted my natural position was scrum-half and although a basically solid player I had little flair, but for a short guy I was a surprisingly good tackler. I especially enjoyed felling the big opponent forwards as they broke through a line-out and were all off balance. I was somewhat dumbfounded on one game when one of our forwards ran towards me from the line out, passed by and continued towards our try line. Why was he going that way? The opponents were Shipston-On-Stour and they played in all black shirts.

Then I started to drive and this meant I had to get to grips with traffic lights. Again not a real problem as for me they were not Red, Amber (whatever that is) and Green but Red, Yellow and White with a greasy smear, and they were normally on poles at a certain height.

When I became a parent my inability to recognise colours was of great interest and amusement to my daughter. I think it pleased her that I could get something so basic wrong. "What colour is that?"  was the frequent question. Some I got right some not. There are references one uses. Grass is green, pillar boxes are red so I try to match these. If the green is dark then I call it brown, if the brown is light then I call green. This behaviour now fascinates my grand-daughters.

Graphs can be challenging.  At one branch meeting the presenter was discussing the red line on the graph.
"Excuse me," I interrupted, "I am colour blind, which one is red?"
"The one above the green." he replied.
"Excuse me," I interrupted, "I am colour blind, which one is green?"

Final example. I was watching Prof Alice Roberts on TV regarding evolution of mankind and how man can see three primary colours whereas most animals only two. The film showed a market stall of fruit, first as animals would see it, and then as we humans see it.
"Well they seem the same to me." I said.
"Good grief," my now adult daughter said "for the first time I think I understand what you see."

Shame that teacher all those years ago never did.

No comments:

Post a Comment