Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Colour Purple

Along comes the fifth blog of the week about the colour purple! Are you sick of it yet?

What can I add? I know it's the title of a Pulitzer prize winning novel by American author Alice Walker (1983) though I must admit I've not read it; and it's the subject of a very witty poem by Jenny Joseph that has received some additional welcome exposure via the Dead Good Blog page in recent days.

As it happens, purple was the dominant colour of my school uniform as well - actually, purple and black striped blazers, caps, scarves and ties; purple and black rugby and hockey jerseys and stockings; pure purple blazers for the prefects; purple and black bruises for poor tortured pupils.

It featured large in our hippy lifestyle of the early '70s. Many a pad or bedsit was painted purple (along with more black and smatterings of red and orange); I must confess to having sported a pair or two of purple velvet loon pants in my time; and somebody once told me that I have a purple aura - but I tend to dismiss that kind of talk.

Enough of the superficial stuff. We shall deep-dive on the subject and discover an amazing purple netherworld...

What you're looking at is a stupendous undersea colony of 'Dragon Eye' Zoanthids, a particularly colourful and allegedly dangerous variety of coral.

Let's get the taxing question of whether they are animal, vegetable or mineral out of the way first. If you were to plump (following good panel show protocol) for 'animal with mineral connections', you'd be pretty much spot on. Zoanthids are animals, simple polyps which can accrete small pieces of sediment (sand, rock) into their beautiful structures as they go about reef-building on bedrock. Consequently they are among the most durable corals as well as being some of the most glorious to look at - akin to an underwater flower-garden.

When it comes to diet, Zoanthids are hybrids and sustain themselves by a combination of photosynthesis and by capturing animal matter: plankton, krill, brine shrimp and bloodworms (yeugh).

As to the danger these beauties pose, some species of Zoanthids contain palytoxin, one of the most toxic organic substances known to man and mermaid. Concentrations of the venom vary by species and experts argue as to the health and safety threat posed to human beings who come into contact with Zoanthids in the sea or in aquaria. Aquarists are advised to wear gloves when handling these corals as most damage is done when the toxins enter the body via broken skin. The majority of Zoanthids would probably only cause localised skin irritations - but given that one gram of the most deadly Zoanthid venom is enough to kill over a hundred grown men if administered intravenously, it is wise to be cautious and to know what you're dealing with!

You'll be happy to hear I've not attempted a poem based on any of the above (though Purple Zoanthus, slayer of bloodworms did hold a momentary appeal and eventually suggested - somewhat obliquely - the battleaxe in today's poetic effort).

I've risen to the challenge of finding rhyming words for purple, supposedly difficult to do (though not as tough as rhymes for orange, apparently). Some of the words were pre-existing (though archaic); others are newly coined by your Saturday blogger. (You could have some fun figuring out which is which!)

I never imagined I'd write a poem about Miss Marple, of all people, but here it is for your reading pleasure. I hope it both amuses and makes some kind of sense:

Crazy Jane* Does Jealous Rage
Looking homely as a curple
locomoting with a hirple,
Marple stomps in tweedy surple
out among the purple heather
as some most inclement weather
rends the sky.

Saturated to her nurple,
she keeps up a keening churple
fit to summon up a whirlpool
on the spectrum beyond blue
as indigo shades into a violent hue.
The reason why?

It seems the town of Weston Turple
will be twinned with Oudekapelle,
home of Monsieur Poirot, Hercule,
Belgian sleuth of high renown -
so crazy Jane must plan his comedown
on the sly.

* with acknowledgement to W.B. Yeats

Thanks as ever for visiting the theatre of my mind. Have a good week, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

Mr R you never cease to surprise.

Matt West said...

What are you on buddy? Purple meds?

Steve Rowland said...

Pure imagination, Matt. No additives.

Anonymous said...

Passages of purple prose :-)

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the poem, to be honest.

Steve Rowland said...

To be equally honest, I'd have to agree with you. It doesn't quite come off, does it? I had fun finding (or inventing) rhymes for purple but as a poem it's a bit of a damp squib - can't win them all, I say.

Anonymous said...

Well I enjoyed it, including the poem.

Anonymous said...

Give us a clue, O Saturday Blogger. Which of those words did you invent? I can't find any of them in my dictionary!

Steve Rowland said...

Okay. I invented: surple, nurple and churple. The rest existed already.

Anonymous said...

I loved this. Never realized I needed to know about toxic corals! Just fascinating. The Marple thing must be a very British addiction. I'm for Poirot.

nayon shaha said...
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