I’d write Green on the whiteboard with a green marker, and wait for the students I’d divided up into groups to brainstorm any English idioms they knew that contained that word.
He’s a bit green.
To get the green light.
Green, as in ecology.
Green with envy.
“Beware, my Lord, of jealousy. ‘Tis the green-eyed monster...”
Sometimes, I’d simply ask, “If I say ‘green’, what do you think?”
The Green Room in a theatre. London Fringe Theatre. Frayed sofas smelling of stale cigarettes and lager. A Tannoy announcing the Half, Fifteen Minutes and Beginners. Actors sitting and smoking, doing vocal exercises, complaining about their agents, criticising the director (the one they idolised at the audition but now the critic gave a bad review, well, they really should be at the RSC on on television, instead of Fringe). Hope for a successful career.
The impeccably ironed lawn of a Cambridge college. Only Fellows are allowed to walk on it. I walk across the one at King’s, while talking to the Dean. We’re talking about Dante, and he says he’s going to give me a ticket for the Advent Carol Service. Hope for academic achievement.
The soft, luxuriant green of Grantchester Meadows. With jet-black crows skipping at the foot of elm trees, swaying in the East Anglian winds. Hope for peace.
My green silk dress I wore on an unforgettable date. He took me to a Maria Friedman concert at Cadogan Hall. Sondheim and Bernstein. Afterwards, we strolled through the winding Chelsea streets. Hope for true love.
A bushy green fir tree, standing by the sash window, decorated in gold and silver baubles, lit up with a criss-crossing string of tiny white lights. Hope for home and hearth.
The glossy green leaves of small lemon plants, grown from pips in pots on my desk during a harsh winter. Hope for survival.
An e-mail from a friend I have yet to meet, telling me about a newly-set up haven for writers recently orphaned of their familiar internet forum. A red room that provided much warmth and nurture. She invites me to join a new room, a green room. I picture a velvet green sofa with soft cushions, a crackling fireplace, the smell of coffee mixed with roasted figs, chocolate fudge cake on the table, a large bay window overlooking a garden with a weeping willow trailing its mane in a limpid stream. A group of writers, from different countries, different backgrounds, united in effervescent conversation, discussing every topic under the sun and moon. Laughter. Support. Learning.
Hope for friendship. Hope for writing and reading splendid words.