1980’s Britain – Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell in colour

Staff and students at Leeds University associated heaven as being white, blue, yellow, green, pastel shades, pink and red, all colours and none – in that order.

They were replying to questions put by a student in the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies towards a dissertation for her BA honours degree.

Hell was most often associated with red or black, with a minority thinking of it as yellow, green, purple, orange and brown.

More than 80 per cent of the staff and students interviewed claimed a religion, but only 47 per cent believed in heaven and only 40 per cent believed in hell.

Hell was seen as a place where the worst things in life were “super-concentrated into one continual happening”; “rowdy and hot, with brawls and drunkenness”; and more traditionally, as “fire and brimstone.”

Miss Rowlev tried to find out how many superstitious beliefs about omens of death survived into the 1980s.

Three-quarters of her informants could think of none. The rest offered deathwatch beetles ticking, birds flying into a house, shoes placed on tables, dogs howling, someone behind you in the, mirror, a black cat seen at night, a white cat crossing one’s path, dreams about water and diamond-shaped creases in folded sheets.

More traditional views: