Magazine article The Spectator

Get a Grip Chaps

Magazine article The Spectator

Get a Grip Chaps

Article excerpt

There's too much blubbing in public life

Last Sunday's London Marathon had me in tears. Not as I battled agonisingly through the wall at 20 miles. No, I was at home on the sofa, with the digestives.

And yet again - it happens every year - I blubbed softly at the inspirational tales, the people running in memory of friends who'd died, the sheer personal achievement of everyone involved. This year, though, another thought entered my reckoning. It was the memory of another male who confessed to crying at the television: Ed Balls. A couple of months ago he told how he often cries at the Antiques Roadshow , when someone says that a family heirloom means more to them than any amount of money. 'Incredibly emotional, ' he called it. Then there was Ken Livingstone, damp-cheeked at the tales told by people in his own campaign video.

We live in an age when it's perfectly acceptable (possibly, indeed, electorally advantageous) for a grown man to admit to crying.

All a long way from the era when Bobby Charlton felt the need to apologise for welling up because he'd just won the World Cup.

The World Cup.

On balance I'm glad there's no longer any shame attached to the tears I shed at TV programmes, or movies, like the bit in Toy Story 2 where Jesse gets left by the roadside. (Good job too, for those tears were many. ) But I can't help worrying that there's another side to it. As Holden Caulfield says in The Catcher in the Rye , 'You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phoney stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they're mean bastards at heart.'

Is all this New Man lachrymosity, this 'Look at me, darling, aren't you glad you're living with a guy who's unafraid to show his feelings?', simply an excuse to hide (possibly from ourselves as well as our darlings) some rather un-New Man attitudes? Content to have exhibited our feminine side, we become emotionally lazy. Or just lazy lazy.

Once we've earned our relationship brownie points with a little light weeping, we happily ignore the pile of washing-up that's been sitting there since dinner because it's our turn to do it and we just can't be arsed.

These susp ic ions about sobb ing have grown as I notice that, oh, look, my partner's doing the vacuuming again. And the ironing.

Quite a while since I did that. …

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