November 25: the semiotics of intimacy

I am a partisan of the simple shake of hands. At the end of an evening out when friends are embracing or engaging in the elaborate forearm handshake, the blood brother handshake – these are men I’m talking about – I step back,  like some Prussian or Austro-Hungarian officer, from these shows of intimate bonding. It is perhaps generational, perhaps regional, but, as I point out when quizzed, I am happy to engage in displays of physical intimacy with continental  Europeans where I feel that the intensty of the gestures are more in line with the actual cultural norms. Here, in the YouKay, I don’t believe it. These are the semiotics of intimacy, a stage show to give the lie to the truth about British social mores, where little intimacy is actually shared, where conversations skirt around the peripheries of the leading questions and revelations, where discretion holds the key, even with the young. Alphonse the braying corporate man will engage in deep blood brother embrace with his old chum of twenty years past before going home and shifting his assets to a higher yielding strain, like Mime sitting on the hot glow of the Nibelungen gold, while his old buddy  Eric goes home to rented accomodation that strips him of three quarters of his income every month. Yes, they are such great mates Alphonse and Eric. You can tell by their semiotics. I’m not saying I don’t have any great mates that might warrant a flourish of externalised affection, but when the show is systematic and so out of step with the rest, you have to shrink.

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