Now is the winter of our discontent?

I grew up in the 1970s, now a decade tinted with much nostalgia. We’ve had big screen remakes of Starsky & Hutch and the A-Team; flick through the TV channels and you can still find The Sweeney beating criminals, whilst Tom and Barbara still try to be self-sufficient in leafy Surbiton. The death of David Bowie has meant a massive return to listening to Ziggy and the Thin White Duke. Only recently CBS announced that it was remaking Magnum PI – you think they’d have learned after their disastrous Hawaii Five-O.

If you read a certain type of history then this was a decade of struggle, both industrial and social; the strikes that put out the lights and put hooligans on the terraces. At the same time the IRA stalked the streets and inflation reduced the money in your pocket. Successive governments tried to cut their spending and wages were frozen. In 1972 we joined the EEC, in 2017 we don’t know how to leave.

I don’t remember the decade that way, perhaps it’s the nostalgic fog. I seem to remember a High Street that functioned for retail and community. I recall an education system, that although faulty, believed in the independence of the child and that they would develop if nurtured. The fewer TV channels had drama, debate and intelligence, not a stodgy diet of mostly competitive dancing/cooking/karaoke. It was Findus Crispy Pancakes and Angel’s Delight. I do remember my father being on strike and the childish joy I felt when coming home from school knowing he’d be there. I also know that 1979 was the beginning of Thatcherism and of irreparable damage to the fabric of British society.

The 70s were certainly more ‘buttoned-up’.

I grew up in a working-class council house.

My father worked in a British Leyland factory and my mother was a cleaner. They surrounded me with love, but rarely showed it overtly, and never expressed it. They cried when I left home for university, but only after I’d gone. My father firmly shook hands on departure.

When I returned from travelling the world, he took my rucksack off me to carry it to the car. It wasn’t a cold upbringing, it was close and loving, but we never talked about emotions. Hearts were never worn on sleeves. No harm was done that way.

He tells me that he loves me all the time now, but I cannot say it back; I presume he knows. My partner’s family drench me with hugs and kisses, I tighten up like a spring and try vainly to respond: I’ve got better at it. In short, I am, when it comes to expression, emotionally stunted. So when faced with anxiety, stress and grief, I ‘man-up’ or ‘tough it out’. I have only a little voice to speak with. I listen to opera; I love theatre and I’m a long way away from that upbringing, but these are other people’s animated emotions, not mine: that’s safer. Now all research states categorically that this is not the way. In the words of the Staples Singers ‘express yourself,’ but how do you overcome such deep conditioning?

The answer is develop an EQ, an emotional quotient. It needs training, but can be learned. The whole premise of TV’s The Big Bang Theory is that IQ and EQ are in competition, but are not incompatible. The modern world asks us daily to produce, analyse and compute, but it only rarely asks us to emote; that’s left very much to us.  The question is, what harm could we do to ourselves, and others, if we don’t? What if we don’t as individuals learn to be more open?

In an interview given on TV just before he died from cancer, Paul Eddington, the forever stressed Gerry from the Good Life,  talked about his emotions and about his mortality, he said that he wanted to be remembered only as ‘a man who did little harm’.

I’d settle for that.

I might one day even be able to express why.

By |2017-12-13T21:12:35+00:00December 7th, 2017|Post of the Month, Your Voice|2 Comments


  1. Stuart Walton 7th December 2017 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this brilliant contribution – delighted you took the time to write it. Advice from Richard – neutralise that script and say you love your dad.

  2. Richard Crisp 8th December 2017 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Further to Stuart’s response thank you for taking time to write this amazing observation of your life

    The issue you discuss about the relationship with you father is one I can concur with…my father and I had a wonderful relationship but at no stage through our life’s did we ever hug or express our love…I think it was a generation thing but how I wish that was not the case…If my dad was around today I would certainly hug him every time we met and ensure that he was fully aware just how much I loved him…but that is only because I have learned to remove many of the shackles of my past that prevented that kind of interaction

    The toxic files in our sub-conscious are 100% responsible for directing soon crazy thoughts and reactions (or in this case non-reactions) so it is at the depth of the sub-conscious that you have to work if you want to effect external changes…having said that just knowing that these files existed was enough for me to effect change and I know thought the amazing work that Richard Wilkin’s is doing that this is the case with many who have been introduced to his incredibly simple BC process – check him out.

    The important thing to remember is you are not broken and you don’t need fixing all that has happened is the mechanics that nature instilled into the human animal is being over zealous in your situation… as the sub-conscious learns from repetition start consciously changing your relationship with your family and stop listening to the negative voices being triggered by your subconscious…be-warned the sub-conscious doesn’t like change so don’t be surprised if it tries to knock you off course but just keep focused on your end-game

    One of the first things Richard impressed upon me is “if given the choice would you do it differently?” “If the answer is yes then your subconscious is NOT supporting the person you want to be so you have to effect change”. This simple observation has changed my life completely and I would advocate you adopt this thinking into your life.

    In closing check out the lyrics to Luther Vandross’s ‘Dance with my father’ I think it sums things up perfectly

    I wish you well.

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