When I am an Old Woman I shall wear purple

WARNING was voted Britain’s favourite poem in 1996.  It was written in 1961 by Jenny Joseph and is known and loved the world over.  Its declaration of defiance, vividly and cleverly expressed, appeals to the rebel in all of us as we secretly yearn to shake off the shackles of propriety, and enjoy the gleeful freedom of cocking a snook at the rest of the world.

The poem is particularly meaningful for this midlife blogger as it was given to me as a gift by my daughter a few years ago; she felt that it described me spot on.  My indignant reaction – Hey, I’m not old yet.  I do, however, wear purple.  The shops are full of it this autumn.  Any thoughts from other purple-wearing midlifers?


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 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 or surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

By Jenny Joseph


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.