Synaesthesia Discovery

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Tasting the Days of the Week

Geoffrey Rush is a rare individual, not only because of his extraordinary achievement in the filming industry, but also because of his low key personal life profile and his enthusiastic involvement in his local community. As an actor who has won an Academy Award, two Golden Global Awards, a Tony Award and an Emmy Award, Rush does not demand any extravagance. He is a comfortable public transport user. My husband sees him occasionally on the train, casually dressed.

Rush has spoken about his the days of the week to colour synaesthesia at multiple interviews. “Friday is dark maroon, a type of sienna, and Saturday is definitely white. Monday is a cool blue.” He mentioned that his children thought he was crazy. I joke to my husband that if he ever sees Geoffrey Rush again, ask him to come around and he will see a house full of ‘crazy’ people.

I do notice that there is a certain element of attraction between synaesthetes, possibly because of this ‘craziness’. Last year, Skye discovered that his then best friends (two brothers) were both synaesthetes too. When we visited our long term German friend last year in Stuttgart, she introduced two young girls to us. She explained the age difference between those two girls and my two boys by telling their exact birthdays without making one mistake. I told her how impressed I was as remembering everyone’s birthday was something I was good at too.

“Oh, you don’t happen to see the days of a week in colour, right?” I was curious.
“Oh yes, I do. I like Sunday. It’s red and I can relax.” She smiled at me when she said that. Kids and I were very excited, and told her that she had synaesthesia. She was happy to learn the name of something she had always had.

Seeing each day of a week in colour is relatively common amongst synaesthetes, but tasting them, like Skye does, is much less common. This rare synaesthesia is a reflection of Skye’s feeling towards things he enjoys, people he likes, or activities he dislikes. It helps him unconsciously remember the changes that have gradually happened in his life.

Before he started attending a local child care centre at the age of 2.5, he used to think that every day was almost the same. The commencement of his child care life, followed by the enrollment at a kindergarten, changed how he viewed each day of a week.

Monday to him tastes like toast with Vegemite. Vegemite is one of the most popular and nutritious breakfast spreads in Australia. It gives Skye a delicious and kick start of the week. The flavour of Monday has not changed since his development of this synaesthesia.

Tuesday used to taste like sugar. However, from Grade 2, Tuesday has become the worst day of the week. There were either dreadful specialist classes or boring teachers teaching those classes. The sweet taste went, and what developed the next was a sunscreen lotion like savoury flavour.

Wednesday was a happy and lucky day at school. Two of Skye’s favourite classes, i.e., Sports and Art, were on Wednesdays. Even though the same timetable remained for last four years, the taste of Wednesday has changed from plum to muesli bar. The change was due to Skye’s perception change towards sports.

Thursday has a flavour of spice, soft and silky, but not very spicy whereas Friday gives rise to a taste of boysenberry spread on toast. These flavours have never changed.

Skye’s synaesthetic tastes of Saturday and Sunday were not any different until the start of his Saturday Chinese school. Now Saturday tastes like lightly sweet lychee, a beautiful Chinese subtropical and tropical fruit. Sunday is Skye’s favourite day. He tastes energy tea which makes him feel energetic and relaxing at the same time.

The milestones in Skye’s early life have contributed to the development of the days of the week to flavour synaesthesia whilst his life experience resulted in the changes of his synaethetic responses.

Skye thinks that his Sunday taste may change if I start asking him to do homework which is required by the new school that he will be attending. Shall I feel sorry for him?

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