When my great-aunt’s only son was killed in Italy during the Second World War, she needed desperately to speak to her sister, my grandmother.
But, in the days when phones were a luxury rather than a nuisance, that meant an eight-mile trek in winter over fields and along country lanes.
My grandmother told me there was a knock at the back door of her farm labourer’s cottage, her sister entered and said simply: “He’s gone, Elsie.”
They then sat drinking tea for an hour before my great-aunt made her way home where, I have no doubt, she grieved deeply – and privately - for her lost child.
Both ladies are long dead, but they would have been dismayed to see the way in which Britain has degenerated into a country full of whingeing, whining, self-pitying inadequates determined to share their emotions with those of us who really couldn’t care less
It’s now reached the stage where one dare not watch television without dressing first in a stout mackintosh, a sou-wester and a pair of galoshes.
The screen is awash with tears, and what makes them more unattractive, even objectionable, is that most are being shed for entirely selfish reasons.
They are rarely generated by genuine feelings of sympathy or pity for the pain and suffering of others.
Eyes fill, cheeks moisten, faces contort and bodies shudder with a grief mostly caused by personal disappointment.
Take the contestants on the Grizzle Factor, for example, which is rapidly becoming a travesty and now appears to exist only as an obvious sponsorship opportunity for Kleenex.
Kids who ‘only live to sing’ or who have ‘waited my entire life (usually about 16 years) for this chance,’ are encouraged to bawl with worry, nerves and apprehension, before turning on both taps when told they have no discernible voice.
But it gets worse, because it would appear tears are the new smiles.
When a creature called Rylan Clark (it won’t be long before he becomes known as Crylan Clark in the tabloids) actually made it through to the live shows against all the odds, he threw himself around in unseemly, wailing, howling spasms of blubbering gratitude.
Thank goodness my elderly relatives are not around to see where the sacrifices of their generation have taken us.