Sophia Money-coutts -Coutts ex­plains how to cry in pub­lic

When Christ­mas ads start, we’re en­cour­aged to be as slushy as the ground we walk on… which is just as well as I keep welling up

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page - SOPHIA MONEY- COUTTS MODERN MAN­NERS Vic­to­ria Mather and Sue Macart­ney-snape (Con­sta­ble, £12.99). Fol­low them on Face­book and In­sta­gram: @so­cial_stereo­types

When was the last time you cried? I’m think­ing it might have been re­cently, what with all the TV shows about pen­guins and ad­verts about small boys who are given a piano for their Christ­mas present only to turn into El­ton John.

I last cried three min­utes ago when an Oa­sis song came on the ra­dio in this cof­fee shop. My boyfriend and I broke up a cou­ple of weeks back and I’ve wept so much in the in­terim pe­riod that I look like some­one in con­stant ana­phy­lac­tic shock, as if I’ve a near-fa­tal peanut al­lergy but can’t stop shov­el­ling the things in my mouth. I cry ev­ery time I open my flat door and his stuff isn’t there. I cry when I open the fridge and his beers are there. On Mon­day, I cried in a yoga class so that, when I stood up, there were two damp patches ei­ther side of where my head had been ly­ing. A few days ago, I cried in the bath when I spot­ted a sin­gle hair of his glued to the side. It’s like be­ing per­ma­nently trapped in a Brid­get Jones film.

But given that I’m not the only one mak­ing my­self dan­ger­ously de­hy­drated at the mo­ment, I thought it might be an ap­pro­pri­ate mo­ment to ad­dress when and where cry­ing is and isn’t ac­cept­able. Be­cause I read a head­line this week ask­ing “what makes grown men cry?” which went on to talk about the pen­guins in At­ten­bor­ough’s lat­est BBC doc­u­men­tary, and every­body bawl­ing at the mo­ment the crew stepped in to save said pen­guins and their chicks.

It didn’t feel very 2018, that head­line. Surely, th­ese days, when we’re all en­cour­aged to dis­cuss our ev­ery emo­tional twist and turn, grown men (or women!) can cry at what­ever they like? It might be pen­guins, it might be El­ton. The an­i­mated car­rots in Aldi’s Christ­mas ad­vert made me more weepy than the John Lewis ef­fort, but I’m not the best judge right now since I also cried when Magic FM played Abba’s Know­ing Me Know­ing You in my kitchen last week. Like Cap­tain von Trapp, I have since for­bid­den mu­sic at home. Brexit on Ra­dio 4 only, which will also make me weep, but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

It’s marvel­lous that we’ve all opened up, that the stiff up­per lip has be­come wob­bly. It is now ab­so­lutely fine to howl at all man­ner of things. The back of a taxi is a very good place for a lit­tle sob. So is the cin­ema be­cause it’s dark and you can pre­tend it’s about the plot. There’s no shame in be­ing blotchy­faced on any form of trans­port (es­pe­cially planes, un­less you’re in a mid­dle seat). The of­fice is less good, how­ever. And dur­ing sex is gen­er­ally un­for­tu­nate. It’s also not a great look in an off-li­cence. Buy­ing a bot­tle of wine the other night, the lady be­hind the till asked if I had “a bad cold”.

And yet my grand­mother used to have an ex­pres­sion – “pour some con­crete in your spine.” So al­though it’s progress that we’re more openly emo­tional, a tiny part of me still thinks “steel your­self ”. A proper cry is healthy and cathar­tic, whether you’re a three-year-old girl or as manly as Gen­eral Melchett. But af­ter that? Some con­crete. Na­ture may be red in tooth and claw, but life goes on, I say to my­self, as I squint at the sau­vi­gnon in the offy.


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