Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tears dry on their own

I've never really liked the use of "RIP", containing as it does a hint of mawkishness as well as delusion (the notion that the dead are somehow "resting", with the implication, presumably unintended, that they will also awaken at some uncertain hour). No offence, but there's a whole heap of well-intentioned but nonetheless hopelessly trite remarks that people are prone to use when someone's died: "goodnight" (so will there be a morning?), or even more mawkishly "night night", "sleep well", "rest well", "with the angels" (or, as a Youtube commenter on Amy Winehouse insisted, "with the angles", which is certainly a more interesting take on the situation).

When Princess Diana died, I was working in London and was drawn into an argument with a colleague, Emily (AKA "Enemy", but not to her face). I pointed out, wholly reasonably I thought, that up until the moment when the news of her death became public Princess Diana had widely been regarded, if she was considered at all, as at best an expensively-clad irrelevance and tabloid habituĂ©e, and at worst a parasitic waste of space. My forthrightness was foolish, of course, implying that I was contemptuous of anyone who'd buy into, or participate in, the ridiculous cascade of fawning coverage and the awful public displays of "grief" in honour of someone so hopelessly compromised. "Enemy" was terribly upset and angry, for she had been been part of the sleepwalking thousands wasting fresh flowers by leaving them in the park near Buckingham Palace as they "paid their respects". Things were never the same again after that, and I sat opposite her for another year having burned my bridges entirely.

I'm not implying there's any correlation between Amy and Diana, although I suspect the garage forecourts of Camden will be similarly denuded of cheap flowers today; in fact it is a source of genuine regret to me that Amy has died. I just find the popular consensus and public response to be excessive for what is a personal tragedy, which has happened to someone most of us didn't know and now never will.

1 comment:

Claire said...

I'll never forget your suggestion for a newspaper headline the morning after: "Dodi and Di die". Classic. What I found annoying was the sight of all those flowers wrapped in cellophane, producing what was in effect a sea of plastic. As you say, what a waste.