Adopt­ing for­eign cus­toms is all very well, says Alan Cochrane, but the vogue for kiss­ing and hand­shak­ing on ev­ery meet­ing is be­com­ing in­suf­fer­able

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

Alan Cochrane is tired of tac­tile greet­ings when a sim­ple 'hello' will do

‘Surely it’s best to keep your hands and lips to your­selves – ex­cept in ap­pro­pri­ate cir­cum­stances’

With the hol­i­day sea­son largely over now, more than a few of us are bask­ing in the plau­dits that Scot­land and the Scots have re­ceived from the le­gions of tourists who’ve graced these shores in re­cent months.

Most pleas­ing, at least as far as this ob­server is con­cerned, is that the im­age of the dour, mon­ey­grub­bing Jock has, to all in­tents and pur­poses, gone. We’ve nowa­days gained a de­served rep­u­ta­tion for friend­li­ness and, well, of be­ing nice to peo­ple.

Hav­ing said that, I won­der if we’re tak­ing things a bit too far in that di­rec­tion? Have we be­come a wee bit too, you know, touchy-feely?

The is­sue be­came one of the talk­ing points of our sum­mer hol­i­day in France when some friends of one of my teenage daugh­ters’ pitched up for a few days. And of par­tic­u­lar con­cern for them was this busi­ness of kiss­ing – the friendly sort, you un­der­stand.

What are the cir­cum­stances when a peck on the cheek, or sev­eral for that mat­ter, should be per­mit­ted, they won­dered? The so-called ‘mwah, mwah’ ten­dency has grown like Topsy in re­cent years – a ghastly im­port, to my mind, from south­ern climes. It’s per­fectly all right, in its place, and that place is al­most ex­clu­sively Europe. My teenage guests ap­peared mys­ti­fied by the pro­to­col con­cern­ing the cus­tom. At least one of their num­ber had pro­nounced views on this – say­ing that she al­ways prof­fers a hand to be shaken rather than a cheek to be pecked.

There ap­pear to be many dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of all this peck­ing. In the Ardeche, where we hol­i­day, three is de-rigeur – left, right, left again.

But just as Keith Water­house wrote that the per­mis­sive so­ci­ety never did man­age to reach his home­town of Leeds, so I’m rea­son­ably con­fi­dent that all this cheek-peck­ing hasn’t really caught on in Dundee.

I sup­pose it all de­pends upon the com­pany you keep. I know of one chap who, when new ladies join his ex­tended fam­ily, warns them not to be of­fended if he doesn’t co-op­er­ate when they ex­pect a kiss on the cheek. He loathes all this kiss­ing stuff.

But it’s not just kiss­ing; there really is far too much touch­ing go­ing on at present, is there not? For in­stance, what’s wrong with the age old and sen­si­ble Scots tra­di­tion that shak­ing hands should be re­served for New Year and fu­ner­als?

Men, and it’s usu­ally men, who may have been in each other’s com­pany as re­cently as a day or two ago ap­pear in­ca­pable of strik­ing up a con­ver­sa­tion again with­out shak­ing hands. It really is the strangest be­haviour and again it’s one we’ve ab­sorbed from for­eign parts.

I try very hard to main­tain this ex­cel­lent cus­tom but it really is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, given that al­most ev­ery­one takes the most ex­treme of­fence if their out­stretched hand is snubbed.

How should we pro­ceed? Surely it’s best to keep your hands and your lips to your­selves – ex­cept in, you know, the ap­pro­pri­ate cir­cum­stances.

Much of this touch­ing stuff has reached us from Europe, so I sup­pose we could be grate­ful if leav­ing the EU puts a stop to it, or at least slows it down a bit.

I for one can’t think of any other Brexit ben­e­fit. Can you?

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