When suddenly I am old and I start to wear purple.
My wife is, as was, her mother a Red Hatter and that is a society of women who defy what society thinks of the elderly. The first verse of the following poem sits on the front of our fridge but I always wondered about the entire poem. Many of you have read it and it has much meaning for many. However, some of the interpretations I have read say that as we age we gain should new freedoms, the chance to show our true selves suppressed by years of professional duty or social decorum.
The dream may be there but it is a myth, we do not suddenly change because we reach a certain age. As Joseph points out in the closing lines of the poem: “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.
The time to wear purple and be outrageous is when you are younger, if you won’t be outrageous when you are young, you will find it difficult to be that courageous when you are older. Life is an adventure and we as the heroes and heroine of our own adventure may find it is difficult to change our part in our story as we move to the end of our saga unless we have had practice.
Contriving some entirely new persona in one’s pensionable years feels just as uncomfortable as it looks, so when you are younger, create that secret persona and let him/her sneak out to surprise people every now and then. So when you are older, this persona can be brought out without everyone around you think that you not right in your head. Let them know the secret you when you are young. If people ask what you are doing tell them, I am practicing for one of my final roles.
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.