My mum’s mum used to tell a story. I’m a bit sketchy on the details. It involved a sick woman, her frantic husband and a telephone call. The woman would not take the pills which had been prescribed. Her husband called the doctor to express his worry. Presumably the doctor asked the husband why his wife would not take the pills. His reply? She only likes the red ones. (It was only recently that I learned that these lines in fact came from a Carry On film and not a real life story - there's a future post about memory somewhere in there!)
That’s it. That’s the story. It’s short and largely insignificant. Unless you were raised in my family. Unless she only likes the red ones was one of the choruses that punctuated your childhood. Enjoyment of all things red was accompanied by the phrase she only likes the red ones: sweets, apples, ketchup, flowers, jelly – anything red and you waited for the accompaniment of she only likes the red ones.
There were other stories, other choruses. They glued us together, shielded us from outsiders in the way that secrets and private jokes do. But the funny thing about she only likes the red ones is that, in my case, it seems to have stuck. Given a free hand with a paint brush I would smother the walls in red. I’d buy a red sofa and red curtains. I’d buy red dining room chairs and a red range cooker. I’d cover the Christmas tree in red decorations. Fortunately for my family, I’ve only managed the latter (see above). But it really does seem that I only like the red ones.
It makes me wonder about the stories I weave through the fabric of my own children’s lives, will they also contain self-fulfilling prophecies?