A stiff upper lip, a sense of calm resolve even, particularly in moments of crisis: this, surely, is one of the British values that we should cherish. But is it true?
Well, the most critical situation one can face is the absolute certainty of being killed. And here we have the testimony of Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s most famous hangman, who executed more than 400 convicted criminals, to draw upon. His observations were reported by Arthur Koestler in the Observer on 5 February 1956: