Now, our former editor Mr Kelner may have a different view but I found the idea of Ed Balls crying at Antiques Roadshow entirely credible (despite the obvious spin), because I did exactly the same thing during the show’s recent Remembrance Sunday special.
Having heard so many heartbreaking stories, the expert Hilary Kay was listening to a woman tell the war stories of her grandfather, and displaying some of his artefacts when I realised that both the crowd and Kay herself were crying quietly. Me, too.
I found this year’s Remembrance Week even more moving because, as I wrote recently, it was only this year that I discovered my late father was a) a paratrooper in the Second World War,and b) he was shot in the air over Arnhem.
I recognise, to quote the presenter Fiona Bruce, there is “a lot of pressure to cry” during the programme, but I don’t usually because I don’t find the set-up that compelling: we’re all just waiting for the eager owner to find out “how much”. Bruce affirms she doesn’t weep, having become inured to death and misery as a news reader.
Growing up a Leeds United fan, I too became inured to heartbreak and disaster, but I find myself having a weeblub more often with age. Most recently, it was during the charming film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s powerful novel The Help. I can cry at the same thing over and over, most notably the compilation of “banned kisses” at the end of Cinema Paradiso, Mimi’s death in La Bohèmeor pretty much any of my girls’ achievements.
That crying gene didn’t come from the Hatfields of south London, but the emotionally volatile Quintilianis from Lazio. On balance, I believe The Cure’s Robert Smith had it right when he wrote the immortal Boys Don’t Cry. Stiffupper-lip readers may not agree, but I think Britain would be a better place if more men stopped “hiding the tears in our eyes”.