Do you remember when you were wee, and on rainy days when you couldn’t play outside, one of the things your mum might reply to the inevitable wail of “I’m bored – there’s nothing to do!” was to get your crayons or felt tips out and do some colouring in?
The school summer holidays are a reminder how familiar we are with ‘changeable’ weather here (a euphemism for bucketing down) so I’m thinking that like me, you have either coloured in as a child or encouraged your own children to do so. And it seems it’s something we never grow out of.
Recently I was in a Belfast book store looking for a particular novel. Now, I do have an e-reader which I use, but still occasionally I need to hold and feel a book in my hands and turn those new pages that have a unique smell to them. Weird, I know, but it’s one of my little pleasures in life.
Anyway, making my way to the till to pay for my paperback, there they were – a pile of brand new colouring books. But these weren’t in the kiddies section – oh no, these were adult colouring in books. Beautiful flower and leaf patterns intertwined, kaleidoscope images with diamond shapes that would look great in pinks and purples, I thought. My imagination was running wild already.
The last time I coloured in was when my sons were small and I’d help get them started. Sometimes they’d be long gone, bored, off to play with something else, and I would still be at it, determined to complete the picture as neatly as possible.
Colouring in books for grown-ups. And why not? We tend to progress from 20-piece wooden jigsaws to 1,000 pieces, don’t we? A few years ago my son and I completed a masterpiece called ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ which was a montage of music stars through the decades. It sat on the coffee table in the front room for several months and on occasional Sundays a few more pieces would be added if we felt in the mood until the picture was gradually complete, at least 990-something pieces of it, because by the time it was finished it had been sitting around for so long gathering dust, literally, that part of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and several bits of Mick Jagger’s face were missing, probably knocked off the table and sucked up weeks earlier in the vacuum cleaner.
And not just jigsaws – I know grown men who collect items for, and presumably still play with, a train set proudly displayed in their attic or garage. A friend spent some years restoring her childhood doll’s house which was truly magnificent in the end with its tiny dining table and chairs and soft furnishings. Some women keep dolls dressed in Victorian or other period clothes, although have you seen those life size baby dolls, replicas of new born infants, called ‘Reborn’ dolls, so eerily realistic they can cost hundreds of pounds?
Considerably cheaper is a colouring book and they’re all the rage again, good for managing stress they say, because you get so engrossed in the intricate detail you forget about the worries of the world or whatever has you wound up. Like, for instance, your toddler colouring in and going over the lines, completely messing up the picture. So now you have permission to get your own colouring-in book – and at last, something for the adults to do on a rainy day.