Ian Moore

He’s lived across the Chan­nel for a quar­ter of his life, but is still baf­fled by the eti­quette that sur­rounds greet­ing peo­ple in France


it­self, the more you think you know, the more con­tra­dic­tions and caveats emerge to beat your con­fi­dence over the head with a broom­stick.

The num­ber of kisses is, I’ve con­fi­dently been told, a re­gional thing with the south­ern cen­tre of France go­ing for what I would call the tra­di­tional ‘one on each cheek’ ap­proach while the north and north­ern cen­tre pre­fer a pos­i­tively ef­fu­sive, time-con­sum­ing and frankly, at this time of year, germ-laden four. Of course, it’s not as sim­ple as that; and, as far as I can tell, peo­ple just make it up as they go along. Some even go with five. Five! I’ve had re­la­tion­ships with less con­tact than that.

And cer­tainly, in my case, the lo­cals change the rules on each meet­ing just to keep me guess­ing. One lady, the mother of a child in my el­dest son’s class, once com­plained that I should be kiss­ing her twice on each cheek, yet the next time ef­fec­tively fought me off like an un­wanted at­tacker when I tried to do ex­actly that! Too few it seems and you’re con­sid­ered im­po­lite, too many and you’re prac­ti­cally a sex pest.

The hand­shake, which should in the­ory be safer ground, is no less fraught I find. When

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.