O is for OLD.
It’s my last full day in the UK today and so this morning I visited my grandparents in their respective residential homes and said my goodbyes. Those places are fantastic for people watching – full of real characters, and some people who are probably only a shodow of their former, younger selves.
It reminds me of a poem that I read as a child and that has always stuck somewhere in the poems that may one day become relevant compartment of my mind.
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.
Because you see, when I am old I hope to be eccentric, full of as much life as I can be. But I don’t think it will come as a shock to people, not really.