Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A magnolia by any other name

I thought about a name for this blog for a long time without coming up with anything that was right. Nothing seemed to express what I wanted it to, although I wasn't sure what I wanted it to express... So, I thought I'd try what I do when I write a poem, which is look through the finished lines for interesting words or phrases and take it from there.

I read over my first post, and the word magnolia just grabbed me. There were so many possibilities for that word. It's a beautiful flower, but also the bland paint colour that's always on special offer in the DIY store. It's come to be synonymous with poor taste, yet the syllables fall off the tongue as though it were a one word poem describing the most elegant thing in the world. And it's the colour of these four walls (although I'm sure the tin said barley white or some other such euphemism).

So I took magnolia because I liked it, and then I added the word "blue" to the front. Blue magnolia. How clever, I thought, because how can magnolia be blue? It's like saying "orange red" or "purple green". It's just not possible. And yet it is, because both words mean more than that.

Why blue? Because I am blue. Not that I'm sad, just that blue is my colour. It's the colour of my clothes, my football team, my favourite book and my duvet cover. Magnolia is a metaphor for my life : a literal representation of this house and its magnolia walls, but also a symbol of the plain, the ordinary. Blue magnolia therefore becomes an attempt to escape from the mundane, to turn the everyday into something different. It's me breaking out of these four walls and turning the magnolia blue.

How original, I thought.

Except now I discover that not only is blue magnolia a real flower, but several other people have used it as a name first. There's an English jazz band called Blue Magnolia, and an arty ebay shop too. Yet now I've mused over it so much and invested the phrase with so much meaning I'm not sure I want to give it up.

And I still can't believe there are real blue magnolias out there. It'll be blue daffodils next.

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