What's on at the Stoa?

Has Britain Gone Soft?

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Last month, on Radio 4's Today programme, Matthew Parris, reflecting on the commemoration of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, complained that Britain had developed a culture of sentimental memorialisation. We now have annual commemorations of every tragedy that occurs. The famous British 'stiff upper lip' has been replaced by self-indulgent emotionalism he said. In a Times article he wrote: ...this is an age of hugs and tears, of reaching out, of sharing joys and sharing woes; of feeling each other's pain and hurting in full view: an age of living vicariously, loving and grieving by proxy, and judging on feelings, always feelings: not the merits, not results, not the argument, never the argument.

Some commentators have traced this change in the national mood back to the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Since that date there appears to have been a development, among other things, of make-shift roadside shrines to mark the place of fatal car crashes, 'ghost bikes', and flowers attached to memorial benches. Is this a change for the good? Is it better that Britons are expressing their feelings openly or is it false emotion, generated as a form of self-indulgence? Was Oscar Wilde right when he said: "A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."?

The Stoa is taking a bit of a rest

The Stoa has been running continually for over twelve years now and we have decided to take a bit of a break to develop some new ideas. Consequently, our June session will be the last this year. Don't worry, it's not the end of the Stoa. We will be back again in the new year. Thanks for all the support of regulars and all our speakers. See you all in 2019.