Tame and Wild


There’s a tameness and a wildness in us all ~ whether we like to, or can, live these out or not.

I was very taken at the hairdressers the other day by a woman in her late sixties or early seventies who had long grey hair. She wanted lots of pink and purple tints put into it.

She has stayed in my mind and I  wonder if she is an extreme Jenny Joseph follower:


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 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.

(Jenny Joseph)

 I loved her cavalier attitude to the hairdo. She said it didn’t really matter if it worked out or not; that it was an experiment.
Those of us who live on the wild side maybe need to experiment a little with tameness and I’d like to see the tame experiment with the wild.
What fun to meet on a purple bridge in the middle!
Which side would you be coming from? 



Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

48 thoughts on “Tame and Wild”

  1. Well Jean this is odd I was in the hairdressers yesterday and I felt that I needed a lift so I have had half my hair coloured black and the other side a vibrant red! I am delighted with my hair I hope the lady at your salon was too! ❤

  2. Love the photo of the Robin and I love the idea of tame and wild…I was discussing with a friend recently, how nice it was to be getting older and not worrying so much about what I say or do…she said that she didn’t agree with that approach and that, regardless of how old we were, we would always need to ‘be good’. I guess I agree in one way, but then I think I can let lose myself if I want to in my poetry and other writing:):)

  3. I think the problem is we wait too long to do the things we feel we’re free enough to do when we get older. Then we don’t have enough time to do it…:)
    So maybe we should start earlier?…:)

          1. I think I was always middle of the road, sometimes crazy and sometimes more reserved. People still think I do things a child would do and I’m glad I still have that kind of mind, because eating the inside of a cake and sharing it with my grandchildren before its served is my idea of fun. Especially seeing the reaction of others..:)

  4. From the tame to the wild, I suppose. I don’t think I could do the wild hair color but I am letting it go more natural. Yes, it is good to be at that age where I can be myself (wild or tame as I choose) and give a hoot what anyone thinks! I like being a crone! But purple will never be my color!

  5. I went grey at 25 and dyed my hair brown for ten years. Then slowly the real me emerged and I looked for purple. Like your lady it didn’t matter in the least if it worked out. It was all about release and freedom. Still have a hint of purple in there. 😄

      1. I will see her in May, i have no clue if her kids let her have it. I honest did not want to be in their shoes, i wouldn’t know what to do…, same when a kid want a jewellery piercing somewhere or a tattoo. I am against such of things.

  6. Both sides. Time and age makes us care less about what others think and more about becoming ourselves. Funny thing is, as a young woman, I would have never worn anything purple. Now, a deep, rich shade of purple is one of my favorite colors!
    xo n

  7. I have read this poem at a very young age, and smiled knowingly and patronizingly. My beloved grandma always asked me what ladies wear in the capital. She was very curious, living in the middle of the woods. I always loved purple 🙂

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