The post-Covid era is perfectly designed for the British. If there was one culture geared up for the social awkwardness and reserved decorum that is required of social distancing legislation, it is us.
Part of the social make-up of our country is that affection or tactility of any kind is not to be encouraged, from parents and strangers alike which would appeals to fans of regency drama. This isn’t something we have been rewarded for when it comes to international stereotypes, and has had us dangling our feet over the Dover cliffs staring at our promiscuous brethren in Holland and France “the men greet by kissing each other on the cheek donthchyaknow” over the channel, wondering when our sexual temperance and bad teeth will do us some good. Well now we know. And as luck would have it, hypochondria has been added to the stock bowl of our personalities and to our great satisfaction, we needn’t even shake hands anymore.
Social graces must be maintained however, and out of this will emerge ways of greeting each other, new and old. The one you end up picking will tell you much about the person who administers the salutation.
The head bobber: A small bow is perhaps the most appealing of these new-normal greetings. It implies respect, is speedy, requires little to no effort and is instantly comprehensible. It will be favoured by people who have watched each Season of The Crown more than once, especially the deferential first two, and who dream of a Tommy Lascelles, gentlemen enforcer-esque persona.
This will be the choice for yogis, the spiritualists, the bohemian and the festival-goers. To be fair to them they have been doing this for ages, unlike vegetarianism, it’s very straight forward to exhibit ones piety in this way. However, because this is also a sign of saying “please” in Britain, there is no way of doing this without a hint of passive aggression, the “please stay away from me, but bless you, here’s a joss stick” about it.
This, along with the kickers, is for everyone who secretly thinks Covid is one big joke and the 50,000 people who died were going to die of a sore throat anyway. While I’d have expected to see this from the lads, who celebrate with a ceremonial “whey” once they make contact with each other, it’s more common in the older generation, ironically.
See above, just stranger, and more prone to scuffs on ones highly polished loafers, which just won’t do.
This is where someone who was as insecure about greetings before Coronavirus as they will be now simply shadows the greeting of their counterpart. Mild-mannered, kindly types who are happy to let others take the lead, the meek who stand to inherit the earth after all the elbowers die off. This works well with business meetings, less appealing on dates, think Niles Crane or Gussie Fink-Nottle.