Saturday, February 14, 2009
Start Wearing Purple
To celebrate my surprise hour of free time, I head to the Greenhouse Kitchen, my new local haunt. I love this place. It's a good size, the upstairs is always flooded with light (and in the mornings often completely abandoned, but for me) and the food and staff are fab. In addition, for a girl who has just discovered that her portfolio career is based on a mobile office (I love the novelty of unfamiliar jargon), there is a free wifi connection that the owners are happy for you to use for hours on end, providing you allow them to refresh your coffee every so often. Bliss.
On arrival today, I pass the time of day with the co-owner, before heading upstairs.
"There's one table left up there," he says, smiling," Have you heard of the Red Hats?"
I stare at him, polite smile on my face, assuming I've misheard.
"Sorry? The what-hats?"
"The Red Hats?" I shake my head. "They're through the back," he grins, "Sneak through and have a look!"
So I do.
In the back room, approximately 20 women of middle age or more are sat in a circle, talking and laughing at full volume. The energy in the room immediately makes me smile. I have a theory that a group of women (do women have a collective noun? Do men?! Should we invent them if not, or even so?) who are well and positively bonded can achieve just about anything due to this magical energy they exude. Just a theory, but the Red Hats have this energy in full amounts.
And have I mentioned that they are wearing purple dresses or trouser suits, and all of them are crowned with a different flamboyant red hat? I kid you not.
A quick Google search reveals that the Red Hat Society was started in 1998 in the USA and was partly inspired by the poem by Jenny Joseph, '"When I am Old." The members are women aged over 50 who regularly meet for tea and frivolity, and wear, you've guessed it, purple outfits with red hats. I find myself urging the years to pass so that I can join them. In fact, I catch myself imagining a Junior Red Hats Society for younger women who also want to defy society's expectations in the interests of having fun. Women are great.
When I take my seat, they are trying to work our who in the group has paid their subscriptions twice. Everyone is cooing loudly with their neighbours or across the table. Purses are being checked and amounts being calculated.
"Ooooh! It's me!" Comes a voice, from a lady looking bashful. A loud hoot of collective joy ensues. It turns out the woman who has overpaid is the treasurer.
"Well, it's lucky we found out," says another, "She needs the money now she's retired!"
Another wave of laughter sweeps the room. I cannot help but start giggling myself, attracting a couple of winks and smiles.
Needless to say, I'm so taken with them, I don't get around to reading my paper.