Friday, 27 June 2008

OverRated: The British Stiff Upper Lip

In The Times last Saturday, there was an article entitled 'We've Lost that loving feeling' . The main thrust was bemoaning the fact that Britons are becoming a very lonely and repressed nation.

A survey showed that 39 percent of us forget birthdays, almost a quarter rarely say 'I love you' and more than a fifth say that we constantly forget our manners.

Combine this with the results of the Hugometer, which showed that a whopping 65% of people try to avoid hugging wherever possible and 10% of those never embrace anyone at all.

I'm very tactile. Ruf will tell you this. I cannot walk past him without trailing my fingers over some part of his body to show my appreciation. I say 'I love you' far too often but I can't help but utter the words when I feel the emotion. I embrace and kiss people of whom I am fond or who have played an important role in my life (however insignificant it might seem to them) to say hello and goodbye. It's the way I show that I care for them, no matter how infrequently I see them.

I lived for so long in a world where this sort of behaviour was not welcomed and deemed almost unacceptable that I had closed in upon myself. Stifling my personality and my lust for life and becoming shrivelled and shrewish. Perhaps, as a result, I overdo my enthusiasm and joy in other people but I will not apologise for that. If I make you feel uncomfortable, then sobeit - but I will not desist.

Thankfully, there are many people in my world who deem me worthy enough to return the compliment regularly. I just wish I saw them more often.

I think that, invariably, the British Stiff Upper Lip approach sucks! Being recognised as a nation that is synonymous with sangfroid when it comes to matters of the heart is a definite disadvantage in forming any type of relationship. If you care about a person, express it openly. In most cases, the recipient will be very happy to receive a boost to their self-esteem and it is a very mutually beneficial experience.

Go on! Give someone a hug!



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19 comments:

Helga Hansen said...

What an excellent blog piece!!

I totally agree that the hug is under-rated, as with any other close contact. I am like yourself - tactile and free with my terms of endearment!!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Well said, Mrs Cake, we gorillas are great huggers, as you one day may find out! But can you really go around hugging your male friends willy-nilly? If they get aroused, their willies might get nilly on your tummy.

Semele said...

Hear, hear! I'm still quite reserved in many ways, but am definitely getting better at letting it all hang out. Sometimes it might be messy, but better out than in, hey?

Ro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ro said...

I couldn't agree more, Ms Cake!

I grew up in a household where emotion was best never acknowledged and affection a no-no. I could tell stories ...

It was a hell of a revelation to learn that it wasn't representative of the whole world out there, that there were actually people who appreciated both verbal and physical expressions of endearment.

For a while I mingled with a group of people where the hug was the standard way to greet someone, even between two guys. I didn't think I'd be able to get used to that but I did - quickly! I miss that now.

Yes, tactile is best and the British stiff upper lip should be consigned to the same dustbin that hold the British Empire, the London smogs and ration cards!

Kyra said...

I related to this: I lived for so long in a world where this sort of behaviour was not welcomed and deemed almost unacceptable that I had closed in upon myself.

And I totally agree that human contact is totally and completely under rated.

EmmaK said...

here here! I believe we should all hug something every day, even if its only a tree!

trumpeter said...

Excellent stuff - I grew up in an environment where touching was verboten. I've tried to re-train myself but I still find that when I do it I get a funny feeling (for a split-second) that I've done something horribly wrong. It does work though..

My favorite British Stiff Upper Lip (surely 'English'?) was that one about how if you were in a lift with a stranger it was important not to look at them or try to engage in any conversation at all.

Fat Controller said...

I have been trained out of my British stiff-upper-lipness by my Scandanavian temptress. In any case, when I was hugging her last night it wasn't my upper lip that was stiff!!! There isn't a square inch of her body that I haven't touched - on a regular basis.

justme said...

There are definately not enough hugs in my world at the moment, and I miss that a lot.
I love it when I see my son with his friends, they are all so natural about hugging each other when they meet, say goodbye, or just in betweentimes. Male and females......
Have a virtual hug, while I am here!

The Troll said...

Very interesting study and post. I hugged someone once.

Luka said...

A hug is an excellent way of putting things right. More eloquent than words, immediate and warm.

If only there was an online equivalent. Sending someone some brackets ((())) just isn't the same.

having my cake said...

Helga - Thank you {{}}x

Mr Bananas - Im looking forward to it. There is nothing I like more than being enveloped in a hairy hug - even with a nilly willy :)

Semele - Sometimes you just have to step out of your boundaries and get in there...

Ro - Group hug anyone? :)

Kyra - Just having someone's arms around you can be the most glorious feeling.

Emma - Yup, even trees need love too!

Trumpeter - Lifts, train rides. Look at the ground, the ceiling, anywhere but make eye contact. Im a big one for smiling too :)

Go FC!!!!

Justme - Virtual hugs all round x

Troll - Come here, you. Yes YOU! x

Luka - Absolutely! Although even those brackets can often make a huge difference.

Duke Orsino said...

Is that love I'm feeling in the room?

Kyra said...

P.S We Americans do the same thing in lifts (aka elevators). I have freaked many people out there by moving my eyes from the numbers and striking up odd conversations such as asking someone carrying their lunch "will you share your food with me if we get stuck in here?"

-Kyra

Isabella Snow said...

Wow.. I have just tagged you, and what a coincidence on the title of this post..LOL!!

Re your post: most Brits I know are pretty tactile. Sexually repressed, but tactile. :-p

marianne said...

Amazing how many of your commenters (including me) have had the same experience as you... living so long in an atmosphere where expression of feelings and affection was discouraged. Like you, I say "I love you" frequently, and love touching and being touched.

trumpeter said...

Kyra -
I lived in the US and the UK for about 6 years each, and swear there's a huge difference in people's behavior when other people talk in lifts/elevators. I'm Australian, so culturally about halfway between the two, but I still remember being shocked when I moved to the US at how often perfect strangers would speak to each other. It seemed so RUDE! (And delightful).

Kyra said...

Trumpeter - I wonder what part of the US you visited. Either there are huge differences across the large geographic area or there are people I need to find that are like me!