Whilst on the subject (of handshakes), remarks by Professor Peter Piot on Desert Island Discs this morning made fascinating – and poignant – listening.
He is Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an expert on HIV and Ebola.
On a recent trip to Sierra Leone he noticed that the local people have developed new conventions for greeting – the ‘Ebola shake’ – in order to avoid the touching of hands which, in the presence of Ebola, can be deadly.
Men are greeting each other by touching elbows; Women, a touch on the dress.
He emphasised what a significant change this was in a culture where “touch is huge” and making a physical connection when you greet someone is deeply rooted.
It will be interesting to see if this marks a permanent change or whether, after the epidemic, people return to shaking hands.
You can listen to the clip here, and the entire programme here.
And incidentally (I’m just discovering this subject is huge!), listen to how campaigner and supreme networker Julia Cleverdon’s “fingers itch every time I arrive at a gathering” here.
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