This weekend’s column below, which I genuinely wrote in my local Costa while crying. I’m not going to go into details here because my website is a place for bad jokes, not my diary. And I can’t joke about this because I’ll just cry again. But it’s been a pretty grim month of wine and cigarettes and little balls of damp, disintegrating Andrex in every pocket which I keep forgetting to throw away before putting the washing machine on…
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 a 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 doc, 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 Lidl’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 played Abba’s Knowing You Knowing Me in my kitchen last week. Like Captain von Trapp, I have since forbidden music at home. Brexit on Radio 4 only, which will probably also make me weep but for different reasons.
Course 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 an advert or a colony of Antarctic birds. 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 blotchy-faced on any form of transport (especially planes, unless you’re in a middle seat). Whenever I see a woman teary on the tube, I just want to give her a hug. The office is still less good, however. And during sex is unfortunate. It’s also not a great look in an off-license. 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, unfashionable 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 and all that, but life goes on, I say to myself, squinting at the sauvignon in the offy.
Oh what a surprise, posh voiceover artists are no longer in vogue. A chap called Jon Briggs, the voice of Apple’s Siri, says he sounds ‘too posh’ for work these days. Instead, brands are increasingly looking for ‘voice artists’ who sound like they can ‘hold a conversation in a pub’. This confuses me since I’m as honking as a goose but I’ve had many conversations in pubs. Others point to this year’s Boots Christmas advert as further evidence, since it features a northern accent singing ‘she’s me mum’ along to Robbie William’s ‘She’s the One.’ Hmmm. Imagine the uproar if someone came out and said ‘Sorry, Geordie accents are out, nobody likes them and we can’t use them to sell anything.’ It’s another example of poshism. I’m collecting them up so I can cite a list at the sound of the tumbrils on my street. Let me know if you come across any others.
Well I, for one, am tickled by this sudden cold. Not only because it should see off a few spiders, but because I’ve got a new Nest thermostat and I am so infatuated it’s like having a new baby. For those who don’t know, this is a digital thermostat (a pretty piece of kit since it’s been designed by two former Apple employees), which you control via an app. I turn the heating up from my sofa with my phone. I wake with a cold nose and flick the heating on without having to fling my duvet back first. I can warm my flat up when I’m 20 minutes from home. I’m obsessed. I went to a one-year-old’s birthday party on the weekend where there were 52 other one-year-olds and several parents looking pretty smug about their offspring, drooling from every orifice. But I went home very happily (a brief respite from tears). No nappy changes with a Nest.