No hugging, no learning. Better go for a handshake
“The policy of hugging” that has caused all sorts of complaints from Ted Baker staff is odd, to say the least. Ray Kelvin, the founder of the fashion chain, has been criticised by a group of former and current staff for a regime of “forced hugs” and alleged harassment at the retailer’s head office.
I must say I have inadvertently hugged the wrong people at the wrong time. Partly, I think this is to do with a general social anxiety about greeting people. I have zero desire to touch most people, but I hugged my mate’s teenage son the other day as I had hugged his mum, a very old friend. That was, as my daughter informed me, “socially awks”.
But then, so is all the kissing. Is it two, or three or four? Is it actual kissing? Are we French? What if you miss and get them on the lips? Lately, I have had a few attempts that were more of a headbutt than a hello, and I really want this to stop. None of it feels at all natural. It is as false to me as hearing young people exclaim: “I love you babes” to each other, or unhappily married people who row in front of you and then insist: “We love each to bits really.”
Recently, I have taken to shaking hands to avoid any groping, hugging or headbutting scenarios. This is also weird, as I feel as if I am interviewing people for non-existent jobs as I thrust out my hand to my bemused teenager’s friends.
Generally, I would prefer minimal physical contact because there is no consensus about what should be happening any more. It is in its small way an issue of consent, a presumption of intimacy that makes many of us uncomfortable. Oh yes, and those people who try to help with your coat and can never find the arms. For hours, it seems. I had better not go out over Christmas.