In a Songfacts interview with Richard Ashcroft
, he said that the "red box of memories" was real and tangible. "We even took a picture of it," he said. "In England it came on an Urban Hymns
deluxe thing at some point and I remember photographing the actual box for the sleeve."
As for what's in the box or the identity of his friend who looks through it with him, he's not talking. "That's where the mystery has to stop for now, Scooby Doo!" he said. "You meddling kids, we would have got away with that red box of memories!"
Ashcroft learned over the years that listeners have vastly different interpretations of his lyrics, which he doesn't want to disrupt by sharing their true inspirations.