Frances, in her heartfelt post here, alludes to an essay she was made to write on this topic. I doubt it was preserved, so I’m taking the liberty of writing my own version.
For a start, whoever said it was ‘golden’ (The Tremoloes, was it?) needs to be sent back to school for an English lesson. Or what was called, when I did O levels, ‘Use of English’. (Now there’s a subject ripe for revival, Ms Morgan, are you listening?) If you had to come up with an adjective to qualify silence, is that really the best available?
Of course, it wasn’t ever meant to be descriptive, was it? It was designed as a control mechanism. Children would have been processed into believing that gold equates to reward, therefore be silent and you might be rewarded – probably by not being punished.
Next: there’s no such thing. (I mean no disrespect to profoundly deaf people in saying this – some of you are musicians, aren’t you?) Try and find it; I might have done so about twice in my life, and it shocked me, until I realised that there was a lot of noise still going on: my heart, my breath, even my bloodstream.
Third and last: it’s sometimes used as a verb. To silence. If I were into control mechanisms, this would be near the top of my toolkit. As I’m not, it’s near the top of my ‘misuse of English’ kit.If it has a colour, it’s black.