HOW GREEN WAS MY LAMY
Fine, the best-selling 1939 novel by British author Richard Llewellyn was actually titled “How Green Was My Valley.” Set against the backdrop of the lush, green valleys of a rural South Wales mining settlement at the turn of the 19th century, this coming-of-age classic is a poignant and nostalgic reminiscing of a prosperous time when the coal dust and slag had not yet blackened the verdant landscape of the narrator’s hometown. A social commentary of a bygone time, it was heralded by critics as “an elegy to a lost world.”
Britain – comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has always been home to things green. Members of Parliament in the House of Commons sit on green benches, as opposed to the red in the House of Lords. The world’s first traffic light using a green gas lamp to signify “go” was erected in 1868 in front of London’s Parliament. Eminent British economist John Maynard Keynes, considered the father of Macroeconomics, famously compared the moon to green cheese. And William Shakespeare was among the first to associate green with jealousy – “Beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on,” murmured the treacherous Iago – in 1603’s “Othello.”
In the 1903 motor racing competition for the Gordon Bennett Cup held in Ireland (racing on public roads was illegal in England at the time), the British team, in a gesture of respect for the host country, painted their cars with a shamrock green livery, a compliment to the Irish national symbol. National racing colors were later standardized, and the British Racing Green (or BRG) became a popular paint choice for British sports and luxury vehicles – the Jaguar XJ, the Land Rover Defender, and the Mini Cooper, among others.
In 2017, German pen maker Lamy released the Limited Edition Studio in Racing Green. Designed by Swiss architect Hannes Wettstein (who also fashioned the Lamy Scribble), the pen is produced in a matte dark green lacquer finish with subdued metallic flakes visible only in direct sunlight. Featuring the classic propeller-shaped steel clip to accentuate a torpedo-like profile, sales of this writing instrument literally zoomed off the start line, and is mostly available today in the secondary market. As Frank Sinatra crooned, “It isn’t easy bein’ green.”