Perhaps I'm just a miserable, cynical, jaded old bastard... but was Luciano Pavarotti really the greatest singer ever to draw breath? Will we really never hear his like again? How can we possibly say that? Was he really a massive loss to the world? Really? In the grand scheme of things? Sad, yes... but is it really a tragedy when a 71 year old dies after a long illness?
It undoubtedly is tragic that Rhys Jones was shot dead in Liverpool the other day, but does it really help anyone to say that he packed more into his eleven years than most people manage in a full lifetime? Can that really be true? Does that comfort his family? How much more might he have achieved if he hadn't been murdered then? Does the world cope more easily with his death because Liverpool FC ran out at Anfield to Everton's song? Do any number of minutes of silence make the reality of his death any easier to live with?
I watched the footage the other day of adults weeping in memory of Princess Diana, ten years after her death in an accident in Paris. What did they see in this woman that gave them a connection that strong? A connection that has apparently lasted more than a decade. Why have they projected so much of themselves and their own lives onto this woman?
I just don't get it. I didn't understand it in 1997, and I don't understand it now.
I see the posters of Madeline McCann in shops and service stations and in airports in places as obscure as Bratislava. I see people's concern for this little girl and their sympathy for the parents, and although I can understand the emotion, I cannot understand why this missing child prompts so much emotion and affection and donations when hundreds of others go missing every day; when thousands of similar children are dying of starvation or malnutrition or in wars.
How quickly will these same concerned onlookers turn on the parents if the finger of suspicion lingers around them for much longer? How quickly will they assume that there can be no smoke without fire?
At what point did we start substituting platitudes for real emotions?
But then again, perhaps I am just a miserable, cynical, jaded old bastard. What do I know?
This is my 1000th post on this blog.
*blows tiny party horn*