i Editor's Letter: Are you a blubber?


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The Independent Online


May I recommend John Walsh's article on whether tears, like Andy Murray's after his Wimbledon final defeat, win the public over - or do we prefer more stoicism from our public figures?

Given my dual heritage, you might expect the instinct to keep a stiff upper lip no matter what, and the instinct to blub at the merest whiff of familial achievement or struggle to be a daily battle. Reality is rarely so cut and dried. The British are so much less stiff-upper-lip than reputation would have it, and Italians are ... no, scrap that. Italians are every bit as emotional as popular mythology would have it.

We are all born with an instinct to cry. What other tools do babies have available to express hunger, thirst, fear and discomfort? We are taught to control tears as part of our growing up as in "now, be a big boy / girl now, don't cry".

To "lose it" is still regarded as a sign of weakness in most adult environments beyond personal relationships (and even then...). There are exceptions like the late Steve Jobs who, as Walter Isaacson's excellent biography revealed, would cry at anything from Bill Gates copying his ideas to getting Apple's employee badge No 2 (he changed it to "zero"). But did Jobs use crying as a weapon or could he just not help himself - like Murray, on Friday and Sunday? Who among us cried with Murray?

So, are you a blubber? My simple test: try watching the wonderful scene in Cinema Paradiso where - to Ennio Morricone's searing score - the adult Salvatore views Alfredo's reel of the spliced-together kisses the priest ordered to be cut from films. If you don't tear up, you are a tougher cookie than Andy Murray, Steve Jobs or I.