Better Dead Than Red

During McCarthyism and the heyday of the John Birch Society, many Americans believed that it was better to be dead than red.

Which colour scares the B’jeesus out of you?

Red, especially in combination with tacky-looking gold stars…

If one is not dead…one will be soon as one’s in the red…


except when combined with Floyd

Mine would be MAUVE.

It reminds me of the colour of my mother’s favourite hat. The one she wore when she went on coffee mornings round at Auntie Gwynneth’s. (Not my real Aunt.) Of course, as a young kid, I got dragged round with.

After hours of mind-numbing tedium, watching the hands on the clock wind round at a decelerating rate, and listening to how the foxgloves are looking lovely this year but the rhododendron has been a bit disappointing after blooming so nicely last time round, mother finally gets to her feet, pick up her mauve hat and says those blessed words:

“Well, Gwynneth, I think we’d better be going.”

But head and hat a blissful reunion do not make. En route to the front door, her attention grabs some plasticky nick-nack that fake aunt had bought at a junk stall in Gloucestershire.

“Ooh… its lovely, G. where did you find…?”

“Well, this year Derek and I went to Cyprus…”

And back we plunge into conversational hell for another two hours and thirty-three minutes, until my lifeless body is plucked from the sofa, taken home, and enterred at the dinner table, where father’s eyes glaze as he hears what Gwynneth said this afternoon and dreams of bachelorhood.

Other than that, I’m not fussy.