Are rules meant to be broken?

Breaking rules

Last week I wrote a post called ‘True Adventures’ in which I came to the realisation that I am risk averse. This week I saw Sara’s prompt “Rules are meant to be broken” and my immediate thought was to nod in agreement – after all no one can disagree that rule breakers are rebels – embodying all that is cool and sexy. So how does that fit with being risk averse? Oh, it doesn’t.

I am suddenly reminded of the time in my teens when I decided I wanted to become a goth. Unfortunately black lipstick, raven tresses and head to foot black clothing looked a bit out of place on someone listening to Phil Collins…:-/ (for shame!)

But then I thought about rules, and it dawned on me that rules are generally made for a good reason – the rules of the road for example. And if you trample all over a beautiful lawn which is signposted ‘keep off the grass’ does that make you a sexy rebel who marches to the beat of their own drum? No, it makes you a bit of an a**ehole really – ruining someone else’s hard work.

What would life as a parent be like if we encouraged our children not to follow rules? I think letting them run around at Softplay liberally sprinkling their drinks all over the ball pit would be the least of our problems.

Then there are rules which limit free thought on the growth and expansion of language – like the rules of grammar. I have to admit I have been known to be a bit of a ‘Grammar Nazi’ at times – I hate to see  a misplaced apostrophe or a ‘their’ where there should have been a ‘there’. But English is a living language and maybe demanding the rules always be followed would discourage the evolution of free thought and communications.

I guess when it comes to rules we have to be specific: Who’s rules?; What for?; And why?

All competitive games have rules and if you break them – well then, it’s not a fair game is it? Two men in front of the goalie – breaking the Offside Rule (little nod and a wink to the World Cup 😉 ) – not a fair match! You might as well just have ten men bundle the goalie to the ground and give him a dead leg and wedgie whilst No.11 bashes the ball into the goal ten times – where would be the point?

But what about company policies? Sometimes company rules feel like they have been made up by a committee who have nothing better to do than make up new rules just to justify an hour in a room with a plate of biscuits. When all there is to show for an organisation’s progress is a few Hobnob crumbs and a room full of employees all with their third finger nail painted green, you have to wonder whether we are all being held to ransom and the answer is, yes! It’s all financial at the end of the day.

Maybe it is some of the unwritten, societal rules that are really there to be broken and this famous poem by Jenny Joseph really resonates because sometimes youth and with it, the need for money and respect and standing stop us from throwing caution to the wind and rebelling against all those silly little things…


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.


18 thoughts on “Are rules meant to be broken?

  1. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so much fun being a goth if there hadn’t been an unwritten rule about it. Bet you looked great. We need rebellious moments to look back on.

  2. Love the poem. I can’t wait to get old enough to truly not care…though I may be getting there as I wore slippers in the rain this weekend and I have a thing for beer mats.

  3. Love that poem (in fact the first line is on my list of potential future prompts!). I agree that there are some rules that should not be broken, they are there for a good reason and breaking them, as you rightly say, just makes you a bit of an a**ehole! But, I do think that some ‘rules’ are more about convention and that they need to be bent a little at times, otherwise we run the risk of stifling creativity. It’s knowing the difference that’s tricky 🙂 Thanks so much for linking to #ThePrompt x

  4. Really interesting take on this week’s prompt! So many rules are there for the right reasons but I guess we all have the right to set our own pattern for the rules we hold in esteem. xx #theprompt

    • Yes & having read your post and some others I see that the most important thing I wrote here was (in questioning how or whether to follow rules) always ask who’s rules? What for? And why? X

  5. Yes, practice now!! I do tend to like rules, and the ‘their’ & ‘there’ thing makes me shudder! I agree with you that it’s the societal or self-imposed self conscious rules that are there to be broken. Wear purple now 😉

    • I think that is the key Marie – we need to teach our children, not to break rules but to question rules and whether they are valid or not (and what the consequences of breaking them are too!)

  6. Love the picture! I was a goth. It was like being not a goth but with more black. I agree, some rules are there for a reason and breaking them would make you a total twit. Now I quite like going against the flow – in Winter, I put my wellies on and go puddle jumping on the way to work.
    Wearing purple sounds like a fab idea. X

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