Cilla: celebrity mourning gone mad

What is it with celebratory mourning?


Sunday’s untimely demise of one Priscilla White illustrates once more this puzzling phenomena.

Lady Di’s to blame. The People’s Princess was responsible in death for 1997’s massive outpouring of national grief.

Unprecedented in modern times, the mass eulogy echoed 19th century Parisians’ tribute to literary giant Victor Hugo.

Social media has seen matters move on apace with platforms aplenty now available to add our collective condolences.

This world wide woe witnesses an increasingly unnecessary show of emotion from us commoners for those enjoying celeb status.

Breaking news of one less well known name draws us in like most morbid of magnets before grieving goes well and truly viral.

We are well versed with the hearse being preceded by a ghoulish gaggle of A to Z-listers taking to Twitter and Facebook.

They believe crossing on a BBC corridor or sharing an LWT Green Room qualifies them to opine on a dear departed friend and, tellingly by association, fellow star.

Such mawkish mewlings carry all the intellectual cache of an uploaded photo of a plateful of food. They are as pointless as they are prosaic.

There they this week engage in gory reflected glory with all too obvious “lorra, lorra” love predictable platitudes.

It is a vicarious indulgence to suggest “our Cilla” played an important part in our lives. Yet still the public feel obliged to openly shed tears. Empathetic? or pathetic?

Popular as she proved, the prime time entertainer did not “come into our living room” every Saturday night. Funny, feisty and Fifth Fab ‘Un in Cavern circles, she would have received warmest of welcomes were she to have joined us post-pub.

Hers is a sad loss of life. Particularly at the relatively tender age of 72. Sad for family and friends. Not us, who never met her. Would she have mourned our passing in the same way? Certainly not.

Her rags to riches story is indeed a stirring one, professionally portrayed by our own Sheridan Smith (interchangeable Pride of the Isle or Darling of Doncaster to suit demographic).

Her acclaimed three-parter, hailed “terrific” by the artist herself, coincidentally reprised back-to-back hours before the shock announcement as part of ITV Encore’s season celebrating the accomplished actress.

What’s the story, mourning glory?

Lord Byron, who knew a thing or three about fame - indeed infamy - suggested it is “the advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.” Quite so.

Learned psychologists meanwhile distinguish between grief and mourning - the former relating to how we feel emotionally when RIP Grim Reaper comes a-calling, the latter concerning public display of those feelings.

Is it the same modern mind-set that sees us keen to be seen publicly laying flowers at high profile tragedy scenes yet private burial plots of our nearest and dearest lay untended?

Or is it perhaps a macabre dress rehearsal for real sorrow and true pain, often tinged with guilt, in the same way a child misses a beloved goldfish or gerbil in diluted preparation for grandparents’ passing?

Either way, must go. There’s an SM site somewhere in the world awaiting another obligatory “so sad” contribution, direct from the department of the bleedin’ obvious.

I’m simply dying to comment on the death of a Scouse songstress in Spain.