OLD HABITS DIE HARD

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Hello all. My name is John Sharples. I’ve loved my life in Spain for 23 years.
I’ve lived in the Canaries, Balearics and currently live on the mainland. I’m a busy bee. I teach Spanish, perform with comedy act Dragtastic and hold fun quiz nights. Each week I’ll be giving you my slightly offbeat look of life in this wonderful country. I hope you enjoy my company.

This must be a very awkward time for many of my Spanish friends. Here, we are a very touchy-feely bunch. We kiss on each cheek at the drop of a hat or hug when we meet someone and again when we leave their company. Oh yes! We are very tactile. Hands are always flying around and patting you on the shoulder or back. With just one day’s notice, this centuries-old tradition came to an abrupt standstill and I have my doubts whether it will ever return. I for one won’t miss all the slobbering one bit. It can take ages to arrive into a group of people as they grab you for a double kiss and twice as long to say goodbye.

I usually make an effort to creep out of a party or bar without making a fuss to avoid cricking my neck leaning over tables for the traditional greetings. They are usually air kisses on the cheeks with a “mwa” sound, which is fine, as long as you aren’t doing your shoelaces up at the time! There are those, however, who deposit a small slither of saliva on each cheek which you spend ten minutes trying to get off. My Majorcan neighbour, having spotted me in the street, once grabbed me forcefully by both shoulders and pulled me towards him so hard, to treat me to the usual air kiss bonanza, that we both almost fell off the kerb! It frightened the life out of me. There is nothing effeminate about it at all. I thought I was being attacked. I call the double cheek kiss “theatrical”.

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Being an entertainer it is quite normal to hug and kiss people in the UK. We don’t hold back. Us entertainers are a tactile lot. Putting your hand on someone’s leg, knee or shoulder when you’re talking to them is perfectly normal, although these days many call it physical abuse. You have to be very careful who you do it to. I have been slapped more than once and been left there standing in amazement. I suppose it’s a case of what we are used to as individuals. I suspect that we’ll all be subconsciously self-distancing for some time to come but at one point the kisses and hugs will return.

Until next week, UN BESO





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