Most recieved wisdom about society in England (and the UK to some extent) describes a nation that finds it hard to express emotions.
It drives our obesession with owning a home (to shut out other people) and our distaste for public transpot (being thrown together with strangers).
But that doesn't mean we are devoid of emotion. Humans need to feel, they need to express themselves, it's part of who we are.
It's just that we used to express this in what we believed in, what gave us ballast and comfort, by way of our institutions.
The Empire, The Church, the monarchy, our constitution and democratic tradition, our industry, our education system, even The Unions.
In short, we expressed our emotions through symbols of what we believed in.
But for a variety of very complex reasons, this stuff doesn't have the role it once did.
We're a mostly secular nation, without an Empire, with an uncertain sense of our place in the world, where the monarchy isn't revered like it was, where teachers, politicians, the judiciary, the police and other cornerstones of our old beliefs are, at best mistrusted and at worse treated with disdain.
So it's little wonder we have found new ways to come together, new hooks to hang our feelings on. Football is the perennial expression of this, something to belong to, somewhere to feel.
But then there is the resurgence of big Saturday night TV (X Factor etc), the very un-British national grief at the death of Diana, the way we grasp at social media to belong, the way we use music and musical tribes to express ourselves and, unfortunately, our obsession with materialism. Many people believe in the awesome power of the Mulberry bag lot more than they should.
There's the middle class obsession with cycling, the love of driving, the way certain people born in th 1970's still love Star Wars. Lots of ways to try and feel and express emotions, now the big instutions and sense of shared beliefs has dissapated.
Which brings me to work, specifically working in agencies and such.
Work has the potential to matter more. I enjoyed Alain De Botton's The Pleasure and Sorrows of Work and the idea that, despite the fact that our daily toils matter little in the grand scheme of things, but the illusion that they might can deliver great comfort and meaning in our lives.
But the problem with many agencies is that they can be pretty good at creating meaning for their clients (if only to get them noticed in a sea of indifference), in some cases giving a sense of purpose to the staff there - but pretty useless at doing this for themselves.
There are exceptions of course, you know quite clearly what some outfits believe in and there is a real sense of everyone grafting towards a clear purpose.
But the majority can seem like it's a perennial treadmill in service of profit margins, status reports and even worse, simply not getting made redundant if you lose some clients.
Or who can work the hardest and stay the latest.
For a sector that is now competing with tech industries, the city, gaming companies and everything else that is probably seen as more rewarding and certainly better paid, you'd think we would be better at creating organisations that feel greater than the sum of their parts.