Where do you stand on this everyday social dilemma? – Kevan Christie

Hugging is a form of social contact that is causing problems for Kevan Christie and his stiff upper back.

It's not possible to say for sure, but this photograph of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embracing David Moyes, manager of West Ham, perhaps suggests the latter shares Kevan Christie's attitudes to hugging (Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images)
It's not possible to say for sure, but this photograph of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embracing David Moyes, manager of West Ham, perhaps suggests the latter shares Kevan Christie's attitudes to hugging (Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Hugging news, and it seems like that jolly German football manager Jurgen Klopp is trying to set some kind of world record for cuddling folk at the end of a match.

Mr Lover Lover, who appears to have inherited Shergar’s teeth, is regularly captured bounding onto the Anfield pitch to embrace both sets of players, the ball boys and/or girls, the tea ladies (people) – tea people? – the stadium announcer, programme sellers, food vendors, the security guards and random wee scousers.

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Of course the referee and his assistants don’t get the treatment as Jurgen gives them a body-swerve before waving to everyone in the Klopp, sorry, Kop end and it’s only a matter of time before he jumps in and starts hugging the 12,000 odd-fans there as well. What’s it going to be like when they finally win the league?

Not to be outdone, Jurgen’s arch-nemesis Pep Guardiola, the surly Catalan who manages Manchester City, can be seen warming up three minutes before the end of every match, win, lose or draw, downing extra-strong mints, before sprinting onto the pitch to hug everyone in sight – but again not the referee and his glamorous assistants.

It’s not just football either.

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Doubles tennis can hardly get going given the sheer amount of high-fives and fist bumping that goes on even after a string of double-faults. “Hey, stop using your racket to play air guitar, we’re losing heavily and you’re costing me money – high five?”

As a middle-youthed Scotsman, from an upper-working class background, brought up in a bought hoose, the spectre of physical contact when meeting either friends or strangers can bring me out in a cold sweat.

Forget all that stiff upper lip stuff, how about rigid upper back, as I try to remember what the agreed but unspoken protocol is for someone I meet regularly or struggle to read the mood music with a total stranger in that split second of the coming together? Is it straight handshake, hug, hug with a kiss on both cheeks, hug with a kiss on one cheek, hug with, heaven-forbid, a full-lips kiss, or do we just nod and say “alright”, which worked perfectly well in the old days?

Seriously, at this rate I’m going to end up grabbing someone in a head lock and marching them round a restaurant while trying to read the starters or force feeding them grass while I give them the dreaded typewriter treatment. “Do you submit?”

I remember once having a hug that lasted around three minutes – actually it was two minutes, 37 seconds, because I counted them – with a person I barely knew who wouldn’t let go.

The exception to all of this social awkwardness was of course the pub, where I thought nothing of hugging and kissing anyone and everyone who was prepared to have at least six pints with me, while we declared our undenying love for each other.

Now, I acknowledge that a lot of this is down to me and some of you may or may not agree.

So, today’s question, dear reader, is when did all this physical contact become acceptable and can we please get over ourselves?

It’s not like people have got friendlier, there’s less sense of society and most spend half the night at a social gathering looking at their phones or taking selfies once they’ve got the cuddles out the way.

In offices up and down the land, emails are exchanged instead of actually communicating with people a few feet away – but they’ll hug each other like long-lost comrades on the Christmas night out after a few bevvies.

However, there are exceptions to the firm-handshake-while-looking-them-in-the eyes credo.

Young people, actors, theatre types, cravat wearers, luvvies – they have my permission to carry on with the cuddles and the air kisses, them and the French. “Pardon me for stereotyping” ... “you’re forgiven” ... “thanks”.

Politicians seem to have weaponised the social greeting to score political points and show how tough they are.

It’s a dramatic photo-opportunity to show the world how you really feel about a fellow leader or political appointment that no amount of words can compete with.

It is also hilarious to watch a ‘heavy dinghy’ take place in front of the full media glare. Enter one Donald Trumpet. The Donald has been snubbed by the Polish First Lady who bypassed a tiny orange hand to console his wife Melania instead.

French President Emmanuel Macron has indulged in a long-running handshake duel with Trump which has included perceived snubs and sustained bouts of hand-gripping that have gone on way too long.

The First Lady herself regularly gives holding hands with her husband a swerve like P3 pupils being forced to dance together and no less a figure than the Pope famously gave Donaldo the eye-roll when a photo opportunity presented itself.

However, my all-time favourite was when oor Nicola welcomed Boris Johnson and Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, the Penfold to the Prime Minister’s Danger Mouse if you like, to Bute House in the summer.

Nicola’s face was a picture, like your mum telling you to get in the house before the neighbours see you and you bring shame on the family.

I’ll end on this folks. It’s time to go and I’ve not got time for a hug but by the time you read this I sincerely hope the Scotland rugby coach and his star player have kissed and made-up.