When I shot this purple cowboy in Kampong Glam (a conservative Arab-Malay neighbourhood) about a year ago, the first thing that came to my mind, after the surprise appearance, was the first line of the poem entitled 'Warning' by Jenny Joseph: 'When I am an old woman I shall wear purple'.
I studied this poem at school when I was a teenager and was not fluent in English at the time, although I was too young to grasp what it really meant, somehow that first line stuck in my memory. Excellent work from my then English teacher.
My first idea was to combine this picture and poem to write about why I don't believe in fashion colour analysis, which basically determines the colors that best suit an individual based on their natural colorings.
But as I read 'Warning' thoroughly again, I remembered a video that a dear friend of mine had recently sent me.
It is an advert, I know, but the message it conveys deeply touched me and fit so well the words of Jenny Joseph, whose poem is post-war and yet resonates with so much modernity. Forgive me if you have to do extra work to be able to understand this blog entry fully since it requires you to both read the poem and watch the video. At the risk of sounding lame and using the oh so often and almost meaningless words, we have said them so often, but for me the old carpe diem still rocks. Do not wait to be, be like that purple cowboy clashing in Kampong Glam, seize your day...
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 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 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.
by Jenny Joseph
Jenny Joseph reading her poem