Please have a look at this poem by Jenny Joseph.
When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am 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 pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts 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.
This is a great poem. I read it years ago. It's all about an aging woman's longed-for non-conformity. It reminds me of those cool older ladies who love their budgies, add a streak of colour to their hair and might share a toke with their grandson.
What could be more conforming than a "society"? Somebody had the great idea of taking this poem and using it as the tenet for The Red Hat Society. The Red Hat Society is peopled by women 50 and older who think that by dressing alike, wearing purple with their red hats and red gloves is pushing the outside of the envelope. They think they're breaking the mould of what it's like to get older. I beg to differ. They're just reinforcing it.
Here's a quote from Queen Mother, Sue Ellen Cooper
"The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next."
I suppose I can see the poignancy for someone of my parent's generation, but as someone from the "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" generation and as someone who refuses to myself middle-aged despite my 47 years - I don't get it.
How about living your life to the fullest NOW; being an individual first. Mixing it up a little before you find yourself old. Instead of longing for permission to be non-conforming - do it now. How can joining a club add to your individuality?
I really shake my head at the Pink Hat society, whose members are under 50 but are obviously ready to wear the mantle of age. To quote a line from the poem, maybe they OUGHT to practice a little now. Maybe they ought to have been practicing a lot earlier to be uniquely individual insteading of waiting to join the club of old age eccentricity.
And to close I'll paraphrase Groucho, "it's a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution"
Sorry - just a rant. What do you think?