Have you ever thought about not living up to an artificial standard of how you ‘should’ comport yourself? Maybe one day you’d like to live up to the old lady goals in this poem? Personally I think we should get a head start. I have my red hat and heaven knows I wear enough purple. How about you?
WARNING by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
I’ve always loved this poem, although some of the stanzas are kind of sad. We have to wait until we’re old to allow free expression? Maybe it’s a holdover from exposure to hippies when I was at a vulnerable age, but that always seemed wrong somehow. What do you think?
It’s getting late here, let’s end with something happy before we give in to our need for sleep.