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Voted Britain?s best-loved poem by viewers of BBC TV?s Bookworm, this perennial favorite with its declaration of defiance against convention appeals to all those with a secret desire to throw off the strictures of propriety and set out deliberately to shock and be outrageous. It sums up this wish perfectly with its pronouncement: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat that doesn?t go, and doesn?t suit me/I shall sit down on the pavement when I?m tired/And gobble up samples in shops and press ...
Voted Britain’s best-loved poem by viewers of BBC TV’s Bookworm, this perennial favorite with its declaration of defiance against convention appeals to all those with a secret desire to throw off the strictures of propriety and set out deliberately to shock and be outrageous. It sums up this wish perfectly with its pronouncement: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me/I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired/And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells.” Reprinted here as a gift book with line drawings by Pythia Ashton-Jewell, this edition of the classic is ideal both for those who know and love the poem and for those who have yet to relish its gleeful anticipation.
Posted October 19, 2001
Do you have a mother? I do. Straight away, we have something in common. Now, could it be that your mother, like mine, is a lady of a certain age? It strikes me as more than likely. Think about it. You¿re grown up, aren¿t you? The chances are you have been to university and are established in your career. Maybe you have a partner and are landed with a couple of toddlers, a crippling mortgage, and the prospect of years and years of extortionate school fees. There! I knew I was right. What is more you need your mother to help you through, don¿t you? Go on, admit it, you do. Nil desperandum! She will never let you down. She is well aware, as Jenny Joseph assures us, of the need to `have clothes that keep us dry / And pay our rent and not swear in the street / And set a good example for the children¿. Nevertheless, while your mother is being the Tower of Strength every mother ought to be, she has plans. I do not mean those mundane, day-to-day plans to `have friends for dinner and read the papers¿ but plans for a future¿a different future from the one you have probably mapped out for her. Your mother, like countless other ladies of similar vintage, is quietly planning her second adolescence, a time when she can rebel against all your expectations and, as Jenny Joseph puts it, `make up for the sobriety of my youth¿. It is this second adolescence that Ms Joseph¿s poem illustrates in her funny, poignant scenario of a lady, not too unlike our mothers, who plans to `wear purple / With a red hat which doesn¿t go, and doesn¿t suit me¿. Remember, Jenny Joseph¿s monologue is titled ¿Warning¿. Invest in this little book, with its hilariously irreverent illustrations by Pythia Ashton-Jewell, and prepare yourself for a parent who flitters her `pension on brandy and summer gloves / And satin sandals¿. Better still, buy this book for your mother-- and watch her face! You run the risk that it would never have occurred to her to `eat three pounds of sausages at a go / Or only bread and pickle for a week¿ but the chances are she will recognize herself. It would not surprise me in the least were your mother, along with all those other Towers of Strength, thinking along the same lines as the speaker in this monologue, musing whether she `ought to practice a little now¿.¿ Go on! She¿ll love it! (And she might even forgive you for forgetting Mother¿s Day.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.