Sunday, January 21, 2018

WARNING - RED HATS AND PURPLE DRESSES - GOODBYE TO POET JENNY JOSEPH


Sad to hear of the passing of Jenny Joseph, the well known poet who was a good friend to the SWWJ.  Poetry is an important part of our organisation.  Here we have a photograph of Jenny with one of our top poets, Susan Skinner, receiving her well deserved award for poetry.  This was taken during the early 1990s. 


Jenny Joseph, born in Birmingham in 1932, wrote dozens of poems which are included within her anthologies including her most famous poem  "Warning" or  "When I grow old I shall wear purple..."  Strangely, she was not out of her '20s when she created these lines which older women of the world adopted as their mantra. Part of her poem goes: "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple ; with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."


So the Red Hat |Brigade was born. Hundreds of organisations - mainly in America and Canada at first - were spawned as a result. The idea spread to Britain and purple and red outfits are worn by the members of the Red Hat Societies!


When I met Jenny Joseph a few years back at Somerset House in London as a delegate of the Royal Society of Literature lecture, she was not very pleased when I mentioned her famous poem. She told me that she had written so much other work since that early part of her life, and why didn't I - as a journalist - read her latest book and pick one of her latest poems for a feature.    Knuckles duly rapped!


However, I've just had a chat with the president of the local Red Hat Society (I once enjoyed a fabulous lunch as a guest speaker with these super ladies) and she outlined a programme of lively outings and events for the coming year. If I am once again invited, will have to dig out my red beret with that purple jacket (which most certainly doesn't suit me), so that I don't receive a black mark!  Wonder what Jenny Joseph would have said!

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