Credit: A National Acrobat?
Don’t you love a good tear jerker? Sometimes there is nothing quite like having your heart strings well and truly strung out. When I was a kid, Lassie floored me on a weekly basis. I still can’t watch Bambi, and the ending of Lost left me weak kneed and weepy for the better part of a fortnight. Sometimes, it does you good to just give it all up to the drama and let all that emotion pour out. It’s a kind of catharsis, an emotional spring clean.
Have you seen that Dustin Hoffman trailer for the movies where he stands on a rooftop and does that hopelessly sincere, cracked voice thing that he does like no-one else? He says, ‘really, when it comes down to it, the movies are all about feelings.’ To be fair, Dustin Hoffman is one of the all-time great tear-jerkers. Never mind Esiotrot, even Tootise had its moments.
When a character has worn his or her way into your sympathy, and when the plot twists in just the right way, there are few things as delicious as that dramatic welling up of emotion. And that’s when the eyes start to smart and the chin starts to wobble… Nobody said this was about looking good. A good weepy is about as self-indulgent as it gets.
Now, it’s all well and good when you know what to expect, but there are some times when events catch you by surprise. That can be as part of a play or a film – when Mr Wilson the football floated away from Tam Hanks in Castaway, I was heartbroken – or it can come even more out of the blue than that.
So here’s a hanky alert. This is one for those whose interests extend beyond their fictional fix.
There is going to be an outpouring of emotion at this year’s Cheltenham Festival of UK horse racing that will take over the news bulletins and dominate the front as well as the back pages of the nation’s newspapers. When the veteran jockey Tony ‘AP’ McCoy rides at the festival, it will be for the very last time. The former BBC Sports Personality of the Year is hanging up his whip and after 20 years spent delighting and amazing racing fans with his courage and his incredible dedication. When he rides down from the finish line for the last time on Friday March 13 there won’t be a dry eye to be seen. All Cheltenham bets, big and small alike, will be well and truly off. McCoy’s parting at the end of one of the most remarkable careers in sport – forged day in, day out in hard graft, self-sacrifice and an incredible toughness - will have the hankies out like you have never seen. Bambi and Tootsie will be nothing by comparison.
It’s hard to find a comparable fictional character because, frankly, what McCoy has done – year in and year out is too unbelievable. And it’s not just what he’s achieved that’s so moving. It’s the way that he’s done it. Amidst the ego-fuelled world of professional sport, McCoy is modesty personified. He is – that rarest of things – both loved and admired across the world in equal measure.