Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | In memory of solipsismThis article by the combative Muriel Gray caused something of a backlash in the letters pages this week, but, aside from her somewhat gratuitously offensive conclusion, I’m with her. I live a fair distance from my place of work, about 30 miles, but, depending on my route, I will pass seven or eight makeshift memorials in that journey. If that is true throughout the country, then every five miles or so one is likely to encounter a windblown cellophane-wrapped bunch of faded flowers wrapped round a lampost. I know of one memorial which is actually on a motorway, so presumably the family of the dead person are driving there, stopping illegally and dangerously on the hard shoulder and tying their bunch of flowers to the base of a sign.
I suppose people will say it makes them feel better, and that it’s harmless. Actually, it could be harmful, if the related practice of building cairns is allowed to continue, as this letter by Ron Graves shows – and the previous letter gives the opposing view, but misses the point, I feel.
This all seems to have gathered speed following Diana’s death. The transformation in the British psyche now seems complete. We must emote, and we must do it publicly. There are times when the stiff upper lip would be welcome. Grieve, yes – but why make it a public spectacle? And aren’t graves rather than traffic lights at busy road junctions the best places for floral tributes?

CC BY-SA 4.0 Wayside shrines by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.