One of the great British conundrums; you meet someone new, shake hands and before you can go any further there's an awkward pause followed by even more awkward movements as some go for a hug,others go for a kiss or, god forbid, two, which can result in a misjudged smack on the mouth! Welcome to the social minefield of greeting in 21st Century Britain - how to judge the expectations of the other person, without appearing over-familiar or uptight?
Having grown up with a Dutch mother, I've been used to kissing people three times when saying hello, goodbye, thank you,congratulations, just because, nice to meet you; this can be exhausting at family events in Holland! In Barbados everyone automatically kisses each other once on the cheek when saying hello and just to be safe I do this all of the time,coupled with a hug for those who seem extra nice or friendly.
In England however, kissing etiquette is based on so many factors; the setting, whether the person is from the North or the South, drunk or sober, pretentious or laid back....all of this is equally as exhausting and you have to make some quick decisions (or judgement) based on a handshake. I've learnt to deal with it like this; grip their hand firmly,pull them in and give them two quick pecks on the cheeks whilst saying hello. Luckily, they're usually in the middle of asking me to repeat my strange name before they've realised what hit them...