The Comfort of Old Favourites

Do you ever wonder why we have ‘old favourites’? Why, when things feel a litle bit difficult, we will pull the same dog-eared book off the shelf and settle into a nook. What is it about these books, or films, or artists, that keep pulling us back?

I will be the first to admit that since coming to university, I have read very little for the purpose of enjoyment, There is something about reading reels and reels of scientific journals that puts you off the written word. But whenever I do need to just kick back and relax. its my weathered copy of Persuasion, or To Kill A Mockingbird that will be found on my bedside table the next morning.

Maybe its something to do with how often I have read these books. I can flip open the book at any point and start reading, already ware of what has preceded and what will follow. I know that if I open the book and Anne has just reached the Musgroves, she will be reunited with Captain Wentworth within a dozen pages and her father and sister have just been packaged off to Bath. So, familiarity. During times of uncertainty, knowing what will happen at the end of the book is somewhat of a relief, rather than read something new, where I do not know what will be happening next. I find the thrill of a new mystery novel doesn’t pack quite the same punch until early June, when my notes have been laid aside with a sigh of relief. Even typical romances are only acceptable if I have practically memorised them from cover to cover, as with Cecilia Ahern’s Thanks for the Memories, and Katie Fforde’s The Perfect Proposal and The Wedding Season. Even typical storylines saved for warm summer evenings on a deckchair, safe in their predictability, lose a little of their shine for the duration of April and May.

It is currently the start of the Easter holidays of my final year of university. Otherwise known as the intense exam preparation session which will span from now until the end of May. I have realised, after only a few weeks of revising, that I am forgoing my Amazon Prime subscription and nine seasons of the X Files in favour of old movies that I remember from my childhood. In fact, I seem to be cycling between The Parent Trap (1961), Robin Hood the Prince of Thieves, and Anna and the King. Occasionally I will interrupt the pre-scheduled viewing with Ever After, or Beauty and the Beast. These are films I know inside out, back to front, every key change and I could probably quote to you in its entirety with different voices for different characters. But that is what I need. I need the familiarity, I need the easy watching, I need the predictable emotion burst and the I-must-hug-my-teddy-tight-because-they-are-just-so-damn-adorable when Anna and King Monghut dance their waltz at the Anniversary Ball, or when they are so afraid of losing each other and the children. I find myself relaxing at the familiar scenes, and the familiar words, and the familiar music in a way only an old favourite can relax you.

So, I rely on my old favourites, both in literature and in films, to help me unwind at the end of the day in a wave of predictability and familiarity. But what about you? Why do you think old favourites are old favourites? Why are there certain films that you can watch over and over and never tire of?

Bea

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