The red door. I’ve always thought red a great colour for a front door, although I’ve never used it. This is the prompt from KL Caley at for this week’s #writephoto. I’m posting this 870 word flash fiction a day earlier than usual because of the Queen’s funeral tomorrow. And I’m posting my next jaunt on Wednesday, which is my trip to London for the Lying In State event.

 a terraced house with a vivid red door. The sign beside the door states Castle Cottage

The Red Door

“It’s a lovely cottage,” Bill said, standing across the street, hands on hips.

“Needs a lot of work.” My observation was based on the crumbling walls, moss and grass growing out of the roof, and not even between the tiles, but the roof itself. And as for the door, well it looked so rotten, I reckoned if I pushed it, it would collapse.

“The outside needs work, true.”

True? Well, stating the obvious has always been a fault of his. “What about the inside?” I asked with trepidation showing in my voice. This wasn’t what I called a project. Nightmare was more appropriate.

“The surveyor’s report says it’s sound, but without mod cons. A blank canvas, even.”

“So we’ll have to pay for connections to any street supplies and drains as well as the cost of installation. I suppose they do have mains water, drainage sewers, electricity…” I scanned the street, first for manhole covers and gutters, then the eaves of the neighbouring houses for telegraph wires. I was rewarded with a couple of satellite dishes and solar panels, and two manhole covers.

“‘Countyshire Water services,’” I read. “That’s a start, I suppose.”

“That house has an electricity substation in its back yard, I saw it on the plans.”

“Do you think they’d mind if we checked?”

We checked. We also had a cup of tea, some fruit scones, a discussion about Great Danes versus Poodles, and why would anyone try to cross-breed them. Mrs Penhelion taught us the history of the village, the road, the smuggling in the area in the eighteenth century, and the tradition of the door colours. Hers was an azure blue colour. We looked along the other cottages as we left. Every one a strong primary or secondary colour. Nothing drab. All pristine. Beige or stone walls and white window paint was part of the requirement, we knew that from the surveyor, who’d added a whole section on listed buildings and conservation areas. We could choose our own colour, though, for the door.

We went ahead with the purchase.

Still undecided whether it was a holiday home for ourselves, a property to let to local workers, or a holiday rental, we did up the insides to suit our own preferences and budget, without too much splashing out.

The biggest problem was the door.

Not that it wasn’t easy to get a new door to match the others, good wood, no rubbish, nothing that would warp and the first whiff of an autumn gale.

No, the problem was the colour.

We could cross off all the colours already used in the street. The Dulux ‘exterior wood paint for heritage properties’ was our bible.

“I’ve always painted my front doors in the colour of my sports teams,” I said.

“Really? What were they?”

“Mid-blue with a vertical white and navy stripe for rowing.Yellow with a white and mid-blue stripe for orienteering…canary yellow for football when I had to have it plain…”

“So what now, white and royal blue halved with a swirl of red?” He sounded facetious, but yes, the current orienteering strip was quite jazzy. 

“Well, we can’t go for black and white stripes for your team.” I didn’t rise to his bait.

“Second team colours?”

“I don’t think dark grey is quite what the colour guide suggests.”

“Let’s have another look,” Bill said, reaching for the colour chart. “Plum, indigo, blossom, veranda green… There’s nothing here I’d put on my door.”

I skipped though the chart again. “You know, several of the colours in the street don’t appear on here. They’re just ordinary bright colours.”

Bill pulled out another chart. “I reckon they’ve used the Weathershield Exterior High Gloss. I’ve ticked off these others…look.”

I looked. He was right. “We could use these, then. Loses the idea of team colours, though.”

“Dusted Fondant, Proud Peacock, Sumptuous Plum.”

“You keep coming back to plum,” I commented.

Bill sighed. “Look, I know it’s against your religion, but can’t we just go for red? Man U aren’t what they were, nobody would believe you’d match your door to them.”

Why did my skin crawl at the thought of a door in Man U colours? It was all the other associations that went with it. “If we’re letting it, we go for red. If we want to live in it ourselves, we go for plum. I mean, we don’t have to make it a forever choice, do we?”

Bill got up and went through the surveyor report again. Then he found the deeds and the conservation schedule.

I made him a coffee.

Eventually… “No, I think that would work.”

Great, I said. “Red door. Nice and bright, welcoming to visitors, and nobody else has one. We’ll paint it when we move in.”

So that’s what we did. Had to repaint it every year, as we would anyway with a pricey holiday let. And washing it down between lets was just part of the covid rules. But that’s why nobody else chose red. Attracted all the dogs in the neighbourhood to wee against it.

I had every sympathy with the dogs. That’s where Man U had gone, anyway… to the dogs.

(c) J M Pett 2022


The Red Door | #writephoto Flash Fiction
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