I met up with an old friend in the village yesterday.
He had buggered off foreign a couple of years ago so it was a while since we had last met in person.
The village was pretty full even though it was still morning. The coffee shop terrace was fully occupied but my friend had already arrived, had grabbed a table and had the mugs served up. It was nice to feel the firm handshake which was a physical rebonding after a long absence. It was a trivial matter yet it had huge significance.
It’s the first time I have shaken hands with anyone since the beginning of last year, or even earlier. For nearly two years it has been relentlessly drummed into us to shun our fellow humans. We mustn’t stand nearer than two metres and if we feel compelled to make a physical connection we are told to use that abomination of a virtue signal – the elbow bump.
The elbow bump is up there with the mask in my list of Covid hatreds. It is a naff, twee invention that didn’t really serve any purpose. Most animals, and in particular primates are physical beings. Touch is an essential part of any interaction. While us humans don’t go in for the full grooming effort, we have refined touch down to a simple handshake [or in a lot of cultures, a kiss on the cheek] which is a sign that we are unarmed and open to friendship. We come in peace. To bump elbows is meaningless or could even be misconstrued as a gesture of hostility: come any closer that that’s what you’ll get in the throat.
So we sat in the sun and chatted. It was good to be with a friend doing what friends do when there isn’t madness in the air. The only disturbance was the village clock which they finally fixed a short while back to it now chimes the hour. Though I think “chimes” may not be the appropriate verb – it sound more like someone belting a field gate with a lump hammer – maybe “clangs” would be a better word?
As we parted, we shook hands again. It was normal. It was natural. It was sane.
Life is good again.