No, I don’t mean with tongues and all that unhygienic stuff, I mean the French type of greeting whereby you kiss someone when you meet them. It’s all very friendly and civilised and I think it’s great - now that I’ve got the hang of it.
When I first arrived in France, I’d kiss the cheeks of all the women I met and got some strange looks in the process, especially from those I was meeting for the first time, and then one day when I was out with my French mate and he introduced me to this lady and I kissed her, Mark took me aside and advised me that one should never kiss on the first meeting – after that it was fine but never on a first meeting.
Since then, I’ve always observed that piece of advice but of course many other Brits don’t know about the etiquette of ‘French kissing’ and when I’m introduced to a British female now, it’s quite awkward as they assume they’re going to get a couple of pecks on the cheek and seem quite disappointed or even embarrassed when I just hold my hand out.
Of course my reticence to engage in ‘light snogging’ sometimes doesn’t work as the lady grabs you and kisses you before you can keep her at arm’s length and then it’s embarrassing as you struggle to grab her hand when all she’s interested in is a return peck on each cheek.
But overall it’s quite a nice custom, although I’m not too sure about the male on male bit. My mate Mark now kisses me when we meet and depending on where I am, e.g. in the village square, I get a bit uncomfortable, especially as I notice that when Guy and Kitty arrive at the bus stop each morning, the guys kiss the girls and the girls kiss the girls, but the guys just shake each other’s hands. All very manly. Maybe I should have a word with Mark? Maybe he just fancies me?
So remember, according to Mark (who should know), unless you’re a letch you only kiss after the first meeting and then try and restrain yourself from the custom of some other countries where there can be three, four or even five kisses, which I personally think is a bit over the top. I mean why stop at five? Why not just go into a corner and do it until you’re missed?
Of course, that diminutive letch Sarkozy had to keep up the French custom even when being presented to Angela Merkel, The German Chancellor. Maybe he hadn’t been briefed about German customs (absolutely no kissing), whatever, he decided to grab her and stick one on her cheek whilst she vainly tried to fend him off, and despite her obvious reluctance at having a garlic tongue slobber all over her cheeks, he continued to do it at further meetings.
Apparently, fed up with his gropings and slobbering, the German ministry wrote to their counterparts in France and advised that they tell Sarkozy to keep his hands under control, his tongue in his mouth and the kisses for his wife. Spoilsports!
PS - I have to say that Merkel doesn't look too upset in the picture.