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10 things that make blokes cry

Michael Vaughan closes his eyes and clamps his lips

Real men don't cry? Tell that to Michael Vaughan, Gazza, Jeremy Paxman or Mike "The Streets" Skinner. What makes the male tear duct well up?

It is never easy to give up a job you love. But after five years as captain of the England Test cricket team, Michael Vaughan has stepped down after a lack of runs on the pitch.

After a list of thank yous, his voice caught as he paid tribute to his family. Flashbulbs popped as he blinked back tears.

Once a solely private activity, what makes men weep in public?

1. Making parents proud. "I know how proud my mum and dad have been," a visibly overcome Vaughan told the assembled journalists at his resignation press conference. "I spoke to my dad this morning and he said 'you know can walk away a proud lad because you've given it everything' and that's all he ever asked me to do." Anyone else need to dry their own eyes after that?

2. Birth of first child - or grandchild. Now that men are routinely present for this everyday yet momentous event, tears in the birthing room are not uncommon. Not only is this the fruit of a man's loins, the progeny that will carry his name (perhaps), but he has just witnessed his beloved partner undergoing the agonies of childbirth while he stands by, unable to contribute much beyond encouraging words and a toot on the gas and air. The consultant obstetrician who delivered Gordon Brown's son, John, said both the PM and wife Sarah "wept tears of joy" at his birth.

Paxman in Who Do You Think You Are
His great grandmother lost poor relief after having an illegitimate daughter

3. Tribulations of loved one. Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman doesn't do emotion, beyond irritation. But while filming genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are, he welled up on discovering the hardships suffered by his poverty-striken forebears. And blokes don't come much blokier than former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, who liked to characterise himself as "Australia's mate". But this carapace cracked during a 1985 television interview in which he spoke tearfully about his daughter's drug addiction.

4. Letting a loved one down. Rough, tough Mr Hawke again shed tears on TV in 1989 as he admitted cheating on his wife of 33 years. Playing the "I'm only human" card, he wept as he vowed constancy. He later divorced his wife and married his long-term lover Blanche d'Alpuget. And cried at how beautiful she looked.

5. Saying sorry. It's a hard word to get out. In his resignation speech last May, there was a watery shine in Tony Blair's eyes as he thanked the British people and said "my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short". Bill Clinton, a habitual crier, wept at the White House's annual prayer breakfast in 1998. Held the day the Starr report was released, the then President of the United States told the assembled clerics that he had sinned: "It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine."

6. Letting yourself down. Footballer Paul Gascoigne famously welled up after he was booked in the 1990 World Cup. Not only did that yellow card mean he would not be playing in the final, none of his teammates would either, as England was beaten 4-3 by West Germany on penalties.

Mike Skinner in 2004
Mike Skinner's ballad of lost love caught the mood in summer 2004

7. Being dumped. In his hit single Dry Your Eyes, Mike Skinner - aka The Streets - sings of a young man's pain as he tries to persuade his girlfriend not to dump him ("We can even have an open relationship, if you must") and his mate's efforts to bolster a beaten man ("Dry your eyes mate/I know it's hard to take but her mind has been made up"). Released as Portugal sent England crashing out of Euro 2004, it soundtracked thousands of shattered sporting hopes. Which leads us to...

8. Beaten in a hard-fought game. Footballers habitually cry after missing a crucial penalty. Tennis genius Roger Federer, more used to smiling through his tears as he hoists yet another winner's trophy aloft, welled up as he clutched the loser's plate in Wimbledon 2008.

John Terry cries in the rain
Dry your eyes, mate

9. Winning a hard-fought game. After gruelling close encounters with Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell, Shayne Ward shed tears as he was named the winner of X Factor 2005. Making a virtue of this, his subsequent hits included I Cry and Some Tears Never Dry. Another to cry a river upon winning was flamboyant snooker player Alex Higgins, who battled his way to win the 1982 World Championship. He wept as he beckoned for his wife and daughter to share in his triumph.

10. These aren't tears. It's just bits of dust.


Below is a selection of your comments.

You missed out "hearing tales of great bravery, endeavour, or sacrifice". Make all the Freudian jibes you like, but I still well up at rocket launches because I know the people inside are risking instant annihilation to do something important.
Ernest Adams, Guildford, UK

Seeing a female cry makes me well up, as long as its the real thing, not on TV. Also Schindler's list at the end.
Mark, Guildford

A wife that's six months pregnant. Not only brings tears to my eyes, but brings me to my knees. Three months to go. Anyone got any hankies?
Keith, Britain

Music. Especially organ music. I defy anyone to listen to Bach's Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude arranged for the organ and not to weep at its sheer beauty.
Chris, Brussels, Belgium

I will admit to non-manly tears at the DVD of Brief Encounter and Coram Boy at the National Theatre a couple of years ago.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

I wasn't even born at the time, and am not fussed about football, but the words "There's some people on the pitch... they think it's all over... it is now!" can still make the room turn suddenly dusty.
Paul, Fareham, Hants

Seeing my father cry. One think I could never cope with. That and moments of monumental loss. Family, friends...
D, UK

Re Dry Your Eyes "released as Portugal sent England crashing out of Euro 2004, it soundtracked thousands of shattered sporting hopes." Very true. I remember when it was played on Radio 1 the morning after. A sad, sad moment.
Tobs H, Cardiff

Animals that have been run over. My other half got a bit teary when a cat looking very similar to one of ours was run over near the house and gave lots of extra attention to ours when he came in. And my dad's still not got over the hedgehog he ran over four years ago in Crete.
Rachael, London

Watching my 3 year old daughter do a show with her ballet friends. It made me cry with laughter (and a good dose of pride).
Simon, Etchingham

The bit at the end of the film Babe when the farmer turns to the little squeaker and says three simple words - "That'll do pig". Get's me every time. So simple and so so meaningful.
Richard, London, UK

What a load of wimps. Real men, like myself, only cry at the sight of quiche. Oh, and on hearing O Mio Babbino Caro. Oh, yeah, and at several places when watching Gone With The Wind including every time the theme music starts.
JoJo, Caterham, England

For me, it is Conan the Barbarian. In particular, when the hero's girlfriend makes a deal with her own life to bring him back from the grave, and tells him: "All the gods they cannot sever us - if I were dead and you still fighting for life, I'd come back from the darkness, back from the pit of hell to fight by your side." Gets me *every* time - in fact I'm welling up just recalling it. I've tried to tell my wife that it is the most romantic film ever made. And tried to include that speech in our wedding vows. But she remains unconvinced...
Jon C, Southampton, UK

Dutch research a few years ago showed that there are some movies that even make guys cry. The absolute number one tearjerker (for blokes as well as girls) turned out to be Once Were Warriors. I haven't seen this film, so I'm curious to know if anyone agrees.
Jantien (a girl), The Netherlands

Once Were Warriors - must be the scene near the end where they find the daughter in the garden.
Ian, Milton Keynes

Warriors - I cried almost throughout the whole thing, just so much suffering.
Ian, Shrewsbury, UK

Witness the scene in Whale Rider where Pai cries on stage in front of her whole school; something about children being scared/embarrassed enough to cry is enough to set me off.
Marts, Bristol

1 hour 3 minutes and 57 seconds into The Crying Game. Enough to make any man cry.
Voice of Raisins, Here and there

Men don't cry watching movies. They just rub their eyes and complain "It's a bit hot in here." The Battle of Britain always does it for me; great action, rousing score and the knowledge that this little island once was REALLY great.
Rob Neal, United Kingdom

Three songs/theme tunes make me cry and these are 1. Band of Brothers' theme tune 2. The Last Post 3. Art Garfunkel singing Bright Eyes.
Greg, UK

I think it's been thus far overlooked that the single most common reason for publicly crying, in this day and age, is an instruction to do so from the producer of whichever reality show the crier happens to be on.
Paul, Lancaster

Rick nodding agreement to the band striking up La Marseillaise in Casablanca, followed by the whole cafe drowning out the Germans - always brings a lump to my throat.
Bob T, London, UK

My husband cried on our wedding day because one of his mates started crying and it set him off too.
Debbie, Chesterfield, UK


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