The poet Jenny Joseph published a very untypical, tongue-in-cheek ditty in 1965 entitled ‘Warning’. She was irritated when it was voted Britain’s most popular post-war poem in a TV poll by the BBC the following year. You may recognise it from its opening lines:
‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that 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.’
Most of my life I have dressed with a preference for colour coordination, blending in with the fashion of the day. I strongly agreed with the opinion of fashion gurus that sandals should be worn sock-free (as in Bible lands), and with their criticism of old men (often in shorts) who wore their everyday socks with sandals. But in my late 70s I started to don white sport socks that usually clashed with all my other clothing, because I found them to be warm in winter and sweat-absorbent in summer, cheap to buy and lasted longer than my regular socks . So now that I am a senior citizen I couldn’t care less!
Now that I’m old I dare to wear
white socks with sandals. Why should I care
what expert stylists all dictate?
I’m part of a multi-cultured nation,
few of whom know of my journey to date,
or of my pedicure condition?
John’s bunion could hamper his pilgrim progress,
and humid weather cause sweaty feet,
so he needs thick socks to soak the excess.
And if they’re white and clash and compete
with the rest of his clothes that began their day neat,
so what? I shall worry not one jot
if the trend-setters total ten or a million.
Why should my heart sink as I wash the pots?
Like fashion, that’s merely a matter of a pinny* on! [* a child’s apron or pinafore]
I’ll even risk tabloid writers reporting
in their gossip columns of social scandals
and admit my sacrilegious habit:
‘Old Guy Attends Church Sporting White Socks With Sandals!’
Hugh Thompson, Weston-super-Mare, August 2017
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