I am what I think people call olive skinned. My hair is brown, my eyes a greeny hazely mish mash and my skin looks a bit tanned. If I go into a Turkish shop it is assumed I am Turkish If I go into a Greek shop it is assumed I am Greek. Italians speak Italian to me. Spaniards speak Spanish to me. When I get in a taxi the driver nearly always ask me where I'm from and the answer London doesn't suffice. When I can't be bothered to play ball and they say "No, I mean where are your parents from" I say London again. If they go back another generation I say London a third time. Then they stop which is a shame because if they went back another generation they'd begin to get the answers they are looking for.
My daughter on the other hand is currently blonde. I don't mean currently as in she has taken to dyeing it regularly - she is ten months old so hopefully that's several years and much teenage angst away - but it started dark, turned blonde and who knows what it'll be next.
Regular readers will know I have a slight obsession with risk, abduction and the cases of Ben Needham and Madeleine McCann. And I have been thinking about the language used around these cases and in particular the idea that gypsies might have stolen a blonde child. And I wonder whether people look at me and my blonde baby when we are out and about and wonder if we are really mother and daughter especially when people comment on her colouring. "My husband is fair" I tell them, "and so were both my grandmothers" as if I must justify the genetic heritage of my baby. And whilst losing a child to abduction must really be the worst thing possible, I do feel terribly sorry for the gypsies and other dark skinned people who may also have blonde children and who face suspicion because of it.
Choosing between risks
The risks you dare not take
Searching for lost children