Wednesday, 23 April 2008
To free or not to free...
WARNING, by Jenny Joseph, 1961.
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 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 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.
That's a very well known poem, and it's a good 'un. It just summarises so beautifully the lovely "don't care any more" thing that we start to enjoy as we get older. Now I'm in my forties (I know it's hard to believe from my Shy-Anne picture) I am already finding I don't care a tenth as much as I used to what people think of me, though I still care. The growing confidence, which I suppose is what it is, is such a liberation.
Yesterday I watched the prisoners being "libbed" (liberated) and embracing their waiting relatives (please God help them stay on the straight and narrow and not be back) and it is a moving sight, actually. Liberation, of any kind, is amazing. The liberation that a hip replacement or other operation can bring, the liberation of escape from a violent relationship, the liberation of leaving a job you hate, the liberation from worrying about what other people think, and - one of my interests as a Christian - the liberation from guilt. Jesus said he came to set people free and that if he sets us free we'll be free indeed. It's so sad that people don't seek freedom when they can. Freedom is surely worth the seeking. (Unless you're a prisoner, in which case absconding or escaping's not such a good idea as waiting till your're libbed legally!)
William Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!