I wonder if you saw Jo Brand’s programme on the BBC called For Crying Out Loud? Jo doesn’t cry much, if at all. And Jo thinks there’s far too much crying in the public arena these days and she’s right. As you would expect with Jo, this is a funny exploration of her childhood and she goes on to consult historians, psychologists, biochemists and Moorfields Eye Hospital while presenting her opinions and her findings.
Unlike Jo, I cry like a leaky bucket. At the drop of a hat. With the tiniest of encouragement. And often at a bizarre range of provocations. Many of Jo’s interviewees said “music, obviously” in response to what they cry at. This isn’t obvious at all to me, although of course I HAVE cried at music, all leaky buckets do. But the more usual response to music for me – especially live music – is goosebumps. Music can add to my likelihood to cry in a film too and often at home I resort to turning down the soundtrack if I don’t want my emotions manipulated with quite such a heavy hand.
I love to cry at films, even in the trailers. In fact, tears in the trailer are a major indicator that I will love the film. My cinema-going pal has been heard to say, as we leave the cinema “Just how we like it; it’s got Julia Roberts in it and it made you cry”! I cried at Apollo 13 and when they asked where, I replied “all the way through”, from the opening scene where Tom Hanks is looking at the moon behind his thumb and imagining himself up there, to Ed Harris’ wife delivering his waistcoat seconds before launch, to their splashdown. I cried all the way through The Joy Luck Club which is about mothers and daughters, while sitting next to my own Mother who sat stony-faced all the way through.
I’m moved by people doing their utmost in competitions and on sporting occasions like The Olympics although generally I loathe sport, and by people being brave. I remember sitting outside Waldens, the stationers in Clapham Junction, which is now a block of flats, on the day Terry Waite was released from captivity and crying at his speech, almost sobbing while tears stained my vivid, jewel-green mac.
I cry at beauty, it’s almost impossible for me to drive across Waterloo Bridge without a lump forming in my throat, especially on a sunny day. Or Chelsea Bridge at sun up. I cried on a City rooftop when being cooked a beautiful dinner. It was a warm night, the stars were out, the fragrant flowers lit up and I was overcome with a sense of how happy I was and how fortunate. My date left me for but a moment, and when he returned and found me in tears he wondered what on earth had happened to me. Emotion, that’s what happened to me while you were gone.
I cry at books, especially when reading chunks aloud. I cry with laughter at funny books, especially Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods which I have read several times, and his book about Australia called Down Under, in the bit about cricket. Crying with laughter is a favourite sport.
I cry at nice feedback, at clients being wonderful, at how much I love certain friends and family members, when my emotions get too much for me. My old boss discovered I cried at happy things and his party trick was to bring strangers over to me and say “watch this” and then tell me nice things and happy stories until the flow began. Bastard.
It’s an emotional release, isn’t it, which I am sure keeps me healthy. I have been known to cry with relief too when catching a plane connection I felt sure we would miss. Crying is catharsis and usually denotes something better out than in. I cry in empathy with others, all too easily able to walk a mile in their shoes. I cried when Jo won the Bakeoff. Natch.
I feel fortunate indeed that there hasn’t been much sadness in my life. Loss certainly, especially of my Mother in 2005. And in therapy I discovered a deep well of sadness which was released through tears and many boxes of Mansize Kleenex. And I cried last time we took off from my special Caribbean island. I love it’s shape from above. But fair dos, I am also quite likely to cry on arrival as well, pleased to be home from home.
Don’t tell Jo Brand. God knows what she would make of this. But I thank her for an excellent programme which made me appreciate my own tears as a sign of my emotions. If you are quick, you can still watch For Crying Out Loud until tomorrow night on BBC iplayer, the fount of all knowledge and entertainment. Vive La Difference and hooray for human beings being human.