I’m thinking back to a piece on BBC radio a little while ago. They were profiling ‘Great Elizabethans’ i.e. prominent folks from the last fifty years. On this occasion, it was comedian and actor Tony Hancock, who killed himself aged 44 after rising to become one of the first celebrities from the world of comedy.
Hancock epitomised many of the characteristics that define Britishness to this day. The profile was packed with words like ‘bafflement’ ‘angst’ and fatalism’ which are a good description of the human condition as experienced by your average Brit. And lugubrious.
Sad that he was, in real life, just as despairing and helpless as the characters he played on TV and radio. Interviewed at the peak of his fame, he was asked if he was happy. He replied “I don’t expect to be happy”. We know what he means, but we don’t all reach his high standards.