While coronavirus continues to disrupt life across the world and “the Indian variant” gives particular cause for concern here in the UK, pandemic restrictions are beginning to be lifted.
Monday will see a major change in the things we are allowed to do, with pubs and restaurants being allowed to serve customers seated indoors and the size of groups permitted to meet outdoors being raised to 30.
I’m slightly bemused by the fact that the number of guests allowed at weddings, receptions and other “life events” is still restricted to 30, while the number allowed to attend a funeral is no longer limited. I suppose that the theory is that many of those “life events” are likely to involve alcohol, singing, dancing and other loud celebratory activities, while funerals may be more restrained.
That said, I think there will be a lot of sympathetic hugging at funerals, which surely opens up the possibility of infection spreading.
Although my years in Spain taught me to greet with a hug and a couple of kisses, I originally come from a family of non-huggers. I have a vague recollection of my father telling a shaggy-dog story where the punchline revealed that the book “How to Hug” was not, in fact, an instruction manual, but a volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannia.
I was reminded of this when a headline on the BBC website caught my eye this morning, promising to reveal Five ways to make hugging safer”. So I went looking to see if I could find the joke retold online.
Instead, I came across a delightful mathematical musing on Rik’s Ramblings: Fact Check: How to Hug, which questions whether such a volume could realistically exist in a standard encyclopaedia. Personally, I think that’s the sort of investigative essay for which the internet was meant.
The instruction manual for general hugging may not exist, but the BBC do provide five recommendations to make the practice safer. I admit it’s a bit childish, but I am mildly amused by them:
1. Be selective
2. Make it quick
3. Avoid face-to-face contact
4. Do it outside
5. Get tested
I rather think we could take those out of context and use them as good advice for many activities.
For those who are wondering about the relevance of the photographs today, other than the very top image, which is recent and fairly random, the others all come from the archives and have been chosen for the names of the plants they show. I believe they are: love-in-a-mist, kiss-me-quick and pokeweed.