On Monday, the Prime Minister says, we can hug again. Personally, I never stopped, but then I’ve been corrupted by southerners, foreigners, posh boys and gorgeous homosexuals. In luvvie land (aka London and Twitter), there’s this perception that everyone is desperate to rush into one another’s arms because they’ve desisted for so long. In many places outside the M25, that idea is so nuts it’s comical. In Norfolk, where I was raised, most people meet with a nod and a grunt, and it is the height of good manners not to ‘look at anyone funny’ (in other words, we don’t make eye contact with strangers). If any outsider tries to offer a hug next week, they’ll likely get clobbered.
For those of us who like hugging, Monday’s easing of restrictions will be embraced with delight. But there’s no convincing those who don’t like it, and if you’re from the shires you’re sure to have relatives who despise it. ‘My great-aunt Mavis gave about as many hugs as the Queen,’ says my friend Anna, estimating the number of hugs the Queen gives at zero. ‘Dead reliable, rescued my mother as a teenager, but no tactility — if she was feeling affectionate, the furthest she’d go was calling her “Duckie”.’
‘Hugging is the worst and I hate people who hug,’ a former colleague confesses. ‘Now it’s going to be grim because even the people who don’t normally hug you will feel they have to do so. It makes me want to go back in my cave so I don’t have to face it.’
In 2016, there was even a concerted campaign by some remainers to go around hugging anyone who wanted to leave the EU — and we all know how that turned out.