Finding my Happiness in Purple

I am a sensible woman.  A woman to have on your side when the chips are down but not the kind who gets flowers or trips to Paris.  I am not a woman who needs flattery or flowers.  Or rather, I do not appear to be a woman who needs flattery or flowers.

I am a cope-er, a reasoned argument kinda gal.  In fact, not actually the kind of woman you’d ever call a gal.  Even when I was a gal, no-one called me one.  Everyone thought I was older.  And I’m tall and sturdy and capable, I solve problems professionally and calm panicked clients and soothe anxieties and cover up my own.  I can see (and argue if necessary) both sides of any argument.  My mother used to say I was born old.  Even when I was a big drinker, I still managed to drink less than everyone else and stay coherent and not get into any outrageous situations… that anyone found out about.  I don’t take drugs.  I’ve NEVER taken drugs.  Not even as a student, I must have been the only student NOT to take one single solitary drug.

I’ve done my share of things I REALLY shouldn’t have done, but they have mostly stayed below the radar screen.

I have always managed to feel slightly old-fashioned, just one step out of time with the cool and trendy.  And that was OK – I had my thing and it was “smart”.  I was the clever one, what’s worse the reliable, clever one.  Not so clever as to be outlandish or quirky – no Sheldon Cooper here, just run of the mill sharp.  Not having to try too hard to pass exams and fairly effortlessly remembering stuff .  Popular on the quiz team but not so much at the parties – like pleasant wallpaper, if Alexa or Google Home made wallpaper.

My mother had bright burnished coppery hair and my father jet black.  My sister followed my mother and inherited her thick red shiny hair and me?  Mousy brown and fine like baby hair.  Not terrible but I was “the girl next door” hair in a family of “look at me” hair.  I am just a bit tall and quite a bit fat.

I am content with my lot; my body and brain have successfully carried me this far in life when other more spectacular bodies and brains have failed and there are worse things than being a nice sensible solid person.


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 practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 
Jenny Joseph

from Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 1992)
© Jenny Joseph


So I have died my hair purple.

Not a little bit purple or a few streaks or the kind I can subdue easily by tying it back a certain way when I’m going to a client.  I cannot hide this purple hair and I can’t blend in and in the two days I have waved my purple hair at the world, I have found that the world waves back.  I do not care that I might be having a midlife crisis or that people might think I am trying to hard to be quirky or hip or lamb-like.

I do not care because it makes me happy, it makes me smile.  Things which make me smile this year go into the “hold on, they’re precious” drawer.

As my friend Catarina says “The unexpected blessing of middle age is not giving a shit about what people think.”

And I may add turquoise to the mix next time.  Because you can be a sensible middle-aged accountant and have wild hair.  And I hereby promise that if the chips are down I will be by your side and my purple hair will not get in the way.

Hair courtesy of Orange Chat Hanwell


One comment

  1. I absolutely love your purple hair!

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