Friday 27 April 2012



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 the slippers in the rain
And pick the 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 practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

- Jenny Joseph (1961)

This poem by Jenny Joseph has always made me feel that there is an element of truth in it. 
So alright, I am already fairly old but there's no way that I'd eat three pounds of sausages or indeed any sausages. I already wear a lot of purple and I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling to shock, though I never do. I hoard pencils and things in boxes and sometimes go out to the bin in my slippers on a rainy day.
I wonder how long it will be before I start to do the other things as well?
Maybe everyone had better watch out.

Is there an element of this poem in you?


Hilary said...

I have always loved this poem and interestingly enough, I see elements of quite a few women I know among the words. Perhaps it's my own inner purple-wearing old lady that I'm really seeing. I have to ponder this. Thanks for sharing one of my favourites.

Akelamalu said...

There's all sorts of outrageous things you can do and get away with as you get older I've found. ;)

FeltByRae said...

One of my all time favourite poems... I already wear lots of purple and I wear hats whenever I get a chance, though I don't know if they suit me or not!

I seem to have lost the ability to be easily embarrassed in recent years so I do tend to shock people sometimes... getting older can have advantages!

Celia said...

I love that poem. I do have assorted purple things to wear, does lavender count?

cheshire wife said...

I had not realised that wearing purple was a sign of old age. I think that I have always worn it. I often think when I see an old lady inappropriately dressed, that one day it will be me.

Irene said...

I think I'm slowly turning into that old lady because I feel a lot of affinity with her. I know I want to be just like her when I grow up. Thanks for posting this poem. I enjoyed reading it so much. xox

Mimi said...

For sure there is Maggie!
I don't really wear purple (had too much of it, my favourite colour in my teens!), but I do love to shock!
Staying up late, dancing wildly, trying things people don't expect me it!
3 lbs of sausages? No thanks!
(but sometimes chocolate for breakfast, don't tell anyone!)

Dimple said...

This gave me a chuckle. (I was eleven when it was written, and having an example set for me.) The only thing is, I find my body rebels at the dietary freedom suggested, and I don't like when I gain too much. I guess that leaves colorful clothing (I would not restrict myself to colorful hats only) and wearing slippers in the rain!

Many, many blessings, Maggie!

Expat mum said...

There's a group (national, I think) of ladies who go on outings and all wear huge, fabulous red hats. Wonder if it's because of this poem?

Formerly known as Frau said...

Lovely poem and I think there is a small element in the poem in us all! Have a wonderful weekend!

Jackie said...

Ahh... I love growing older, and will wear my age with a smile for as long as I can.
I think of you often, Maggie.
I hope that you have a beautiful week.

Sally Wessely said...

Oh yes, there is a lot of me in this poem. Perhaps I don't do the things she does, but I like her attitude. That is what I embrace: her attitude. I've always loved this poem. I am in fact wearing a lot of purple today.

dianefaith said...

" I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling to shock, though I never do." I feel something like that. It's more that I feel more free to say what I'm actually thinking than I did when I was younger, and the listener can take it or leave it. Thanks for sharing the poem.

RNSANE said...

I just love this poem...and, even before I became an old woman, I was doing a few outrageous things...but, hey, none of them included heading off to India for a four month sojourn. It's nice to be home for a bit but I'm hoping to head back to India in a couple of months and, this time, I plan to stay six months.

Rose said...

I've loved this poem ever since I first read it many years ago. I don't spend my pension on "brandy and satin sandals," nor do I spit in public:) But I like the message and try to remember that it's okay to do what I want some times--I've earned it!

P.S. My daughter thinks I'm spending her inheritance on flowers:) I guess my garden has become my wearing of purple and red.

Jeni said...

Oh yeah! I see a few things there that might possibly apply to me. Although, the changes that have come about in me, my kids seem to think have been pretty drastic but made me a bit more mellow and that, especially where the grandkids are concerned is a lucky break they don't realize they received! (That's pretty much the opinion of MY children anyway, and I guess for the most part, they are right because I'm still stern at times -when it is needed -with the grandkids, but they don't have to toe the line near like my Kids had to do when they were growing up. So that was quite the change for me to have come over me as I aged.

Suburbia said...

I too go to the bin in my slippers on a wet day!

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'd say there is a little bit of this in all of us.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite poems!

softinthehead said...

LOL thanks for sharing Maggie - I can definitely see similarities....

Anonymous said...

I reckon there's an element of that poem in all of us! I do things that an old person would get excited about, and as for going out in my slippers - all the time!!

CJ x

Gail Is This Mutton? said...

I love that poem! It definitely holds some truth because the older we get, the more confident we become --- so we have a more "devil may care" attitude. I hope that when I'm old I will be wearing purple and eating more sausages.

Suldog said...

Expat Mum mentioned it. There is an actual organization, at least in America, called The Red Hat Society, comprised of women of a certain age who wear red hats, etc., based upon this poem.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I consider myself pretty stinkin' old but nope...haven't developed those habits yet! Heeehehehe!!!

Made for a great read though.

God bless ya and have a great day!!!

Jayne said...

I do love that poem. I was out the other month somewhere in London, and saw a group of ladies - all wearing purple, with red hats, and looking like they were having a marvellous time. That made me smile, too. :)

MARY G said...

Oh, yes. I even have the hat. Two. One for summer and one for winter. My daughter winces whenever I put them on.
Up the wrinklies!