Less than 24 hours after Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car accident I flew to Canada for a well-earned two-week holiday.

I arrived in Toronto, picked up a hire car and spent a fortnight driving through Canada – I made my way from Toronto to Quebec City, stopping along the way at various points in between, then flew back to the UK from Montreal.

It was a fanastic trip in a beautiful country.

So, despite spending a few hours in the newsroom of the newspaper I was working on at the time (a special request from the news editor to help out gathering reaction before I headed to Heathrow), I escaped one of the most baffling two weeks in recent British history.

Maybe that is why I remain completely baffled by the mawkish attitudes towards the death of one person, no matter how unfortunate the circumstances and the impact on her young family.

I was separated from the events of 10 years ago geographically by several thousand miles, but it still feels that a much wider gap was formed between my attitudes and those of so many others in my country.

Equally, the over-sentimental reaction to numerous stories and issues since that night in Paris 10 years ago is something I’ve never really understood.

What makes it all the more mystifying is that it is not always predictable and there is often a random nature to this collective mawkishness that makes it even more unpalatable.

What makes one young abducted child more deserving of saturation coverage and national sympathy than another?

Why focus so much on one schoolboy shot dead in a fairly leafy city suburb than another innocent teenager murdered on an inner-city estate?

At what point did the dignity of death lose its importance and when did it become acceptable to display grief in such a public, misguided and superficial way?

Are the depressing temporary shrines of garage shop-bought flowers, cuddly toys, misspelt epithets and other miscellany that spring up at the site of all kinds of “tragedy” here to stay?

This collective wave of self-pity achieves nothing. I’m so glad I took that holiday to Canada ten years ago.

2 responses »

  1. Mikki says:

    The sickening thing, of course, being the utter lack of coverage of Mother Teresa’s death which happened at about the same time.

    I wish I’d been in **** Canada. Or indeed anywhere where they had a sense of perspective about it. I think you could be burned at the stake for thinking it was nothing more than a bit of a shame.

    Whilst you’re on the subject you could start on all the people who said “Oh I HOPE it isn’t them” when Hollie and Jessica’s bodies were found. As if it would somehow be better if it were two other little girls.

    Hmm. Although that’s probably a bit controversial…

  2. […] the beatification of the People’s Princess, to the semi-permanent shrines of flowers, cuddly toys and largely meaningless eulogies that […]

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