MENTAL health campaigns have done a huge amount of good. Let’s get that straight right at the beginning.
However, there is a fine line between speaking out and, as my late grandmother would have said, “washing your dirty linen in public”.
This year has got off to an emotionally-charged start and this correspondent is as guilty as the next person for lapping up all the revelations about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s desire to forge a new life for themselves.
But the other day, as the lunchtime news led yet again on the sixth in line to the throne complaining like a petulant teenager about the so-called Megxit deal, the ‘off’ switch on the television remote control had to be pressed.
In my opinion, this was a step too far. This was washing dirty linen in public.
It’s deeply worrying that this modern-day epidemic of verbal diarrhoea has spread to the very highest echelons of society.
Previously, it was the habit of call girls and reality television stars (often hard to tell them apart).
Nowadays everybody is at it.
Somebody falls out with a friend or neighbour and the details are posted on social media for all to see. It’s like an updated version of the Roman’s gladiatorial fights or the stocks of medieval times, with every Tom, Dick or Harry (sorry, couldn’t resist) crowding around to give their two-penn’orth’s worth.
Where has people’s pride gone? Whatever has happened to the British stiff upper lip?
The new generation of snowflakes and wokes – two words learnt this week which can be basically translated for those of us of a more robust constitution to lily-livered – really must start to take back control (beginning to sound like Mrs May now).
Men in particular talking about their inner angst is incredibly unattractive. Where are the rugged cavemen running around with a half-eaten leg of a woolly mammoth? Oh no, they’re all vegan these days, agonising about the thoughts and feelings of insects.
Of course, these last comments are tongue in cheek.
As I said at the start, mental health campaigners have made tremendous strides in the last few years.
Where we live, in the countryside, the farming community in particular has been brilliant at getting the high suicide risk group of young men to try and open up a bit.
Spending all day on a tractor can be incredibly lonely and ironically those with the highest number of ‘friends’ on social media are most likely to feel the deepest isolation.
It’s modern society’s lack of a filter button that is dangerous.
Nobody wants our population to take a step backwards to the Victorian era and live miserable lives in a repressed state of inner turmoil. It’s good to talk.
But there is a time and a place for everything. Not moaning about a private agreement with your 93-year-old grandmother on national television for example.
Looking at the old saying about washing dirty linen in public; the punchline has to be that mucky washing should be done behind closed doors at home.
To return to the Royal Family, how much more dignified for the young couple’s hopes and dreams to have been discussed privately within the confines of the palace and then released as a fait accompli.
Instead it was played out in the public eye like some downmarket soap opera sub-plot.
It’s echoed in households the length and breadth of the country.
While those genuinely suffering ill-health need support any scroll through social media sites such as Facebook will show dramatic ‘…off to the doctor’s …’ posts. These are the new-breed of narcissist’s dream, because the element of unknown means friends and colleagues gush forward with the likes of ‘you alright hun?’ or ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’.
A week later aforementioned suspected death-bed patient will be bumped into in the supermarket and a tentative enquiry as to their health made. ‘Oh that … just a flu jab.’
Please can we have a return to old-fashioned backbone?
Never mind the bonging of Big Ben to mark Brexit; what we need is a national re-setting of this country’s moral compass.
There is a lot of emphasis these days on people living their best life. In fact, it’s a phrase seemingly coined by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s friend the legendary American television broadcaster Oprah Winfrey.
Nobody can argue with people’s right to strive for the best life in the form of relationships, travel, education, work and emotional fulfilment. But there needs to be a caveat.
Life isn’t always made up of the best of times. There are bad times and it’s how we deal with them that is so important. Confiding – behind closed doors – with friends and family is a good and healthy thing. Putting them on a boil wash and hanging them out in the front garden for all and sundry to gawp over isn’t.
Sarah Todd is a former editor of Yorkshire Life magazine. She is a farmer’s daughter, mother and journalist specialising in country life.