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There was definitely no hugging going on in Warwickshire or Northamptonshire during this period either.

Hi Russell. I would like to point you to a book by Kate Fox titled "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour" - and yes, the author is in fact an anthropologist. She is also quite funny. I don't remember her points on hugging, but as the title suggests she has got pretty much everything covered.


I can confirm that there was no hugging in Glasgow either. No way Jose. Everyone was far too gawky and angular. I seem to remember it being introduced to my family by my cousin's girlfriend, and it was quite a revolution. No one quite knew what to do but some of my aunts were early adopters and it all took off.

Not that this is a film review site, but I must say that after all the hype, i wasn't wildly convinced by This is England.

Great setting for a story and a good plot, but never once did I feel like I was watching real people. Not even a dramatized, hyper-real version of real people (like in Dead Man's Shoes, for example).

I did notice the hugging thing too...

It's nowhere near as good as Dead Man's Shoes - anyone who hasn't seen this most definitely should!

Nope, hugging and touching was a big no no here. I remember once we were in the pub, I was about 20, and our friend's dad came in. Ronnie was always up for a laugh and a beer though his son, Colin, was always mortified about having the old man being hip with the kids.

When Ronnie left he went and hugged and kissed his son goodbye. The most natural thing in the world. None of us had seen such a thing and we quietly laughed at them. Years later a couple of us talked about it and we all remembered one thing: we were jealous. We wished our dads were as cool as Ronnie.

On a happier note I know the penguin in Gregory's Girl.

Great observation!

I had my secondary school years in London during the early 80's and I can confirm that there was no hugging unless you were fighting or wrestling. Emotions were suppressed at all costs, as to be seen to be emotional was to be seen to be weak.

The 'new man' movement of the 90's, encouraging men to be more more feminine in the attitudes, has undoubtedly been a factor in changing male behaviour. 'New Man' as a concept was adopted by mainstream media for soap plotlines and magazine articles, making emotional awareness a social requirement for the new male millenial generation.

I would have more likely given a friend a dead leg as a sign of affirmation and affection than a hug in the 80's.

Maybe they did two versions of the film and the on-line focus groups preferred the hugs :)


Well I grew up closer to the Severn than the Trent, but here's a shot of some of the people I was shit-scared of in 1980: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lloyd-davis/414127570/

Some points to note:

the arm around shoulder pose is almost as defiant and daring as being photographed with a cigarette.

even though legs are apart, all genitals are carefully guarded.

there is no boy:boy touching here. if the guy on the end had tried to snuggle in a bit more he'd have been punched.

I have a spare interesting ticket if you have a waiting list

Hi Charlie,

I'd take that off your hands if it's still available?

Drop me a line if so: m_alexanderscott@yahoo.co.uk


p.s. great post Russell, been meaning to see that for some time. Lots of lovely accompanying insights in the comments as well!

Good point that one of our insights people made - hugging then would have got you a good kicking
My favourite skinhead memory comes from their first time around when I knew an older kid who was the first in Leeds to have a crombie. Unfortunately the trend arrived in leeds in the middle of a very hot July.
One afternoon I complimented him on the coat but said he must be hot.
I am, he said, but I can take it.

loughborough/leicester 1972-1990. definitely no hugging there/then.

even small things like handshakes make me feel uneasy half a life on.

if you'd have given someone a hug back then you would have got a shinning.

I don't remember much hugging in High School in my boring suburb of Detroit, came to England in the 80s and was quite surprised by all the bum patting going on when football was on.

I just saw that movie to - how brilliant was it.

I know I am going off topic somewhat here, but did you know that astounding, angelic kid who played the lead not only had never acted before but apprentely was a right-little-shit in real life. Amazing eh!

Also, while it has an 18 certificate in most of the country/World - some councils think its message is so effective, it has been reduced to a 15.

Common sense from local councils? Whatever will be next!

Finally, as a boy who grew up on the meanstreets of Nottingham [even though in classic middle-class West Bridgford] I know there was no hugging unless it was immediately followed by a headbut.

Infact, 'hugging' between men was strictly frowned upon even though having an Italian mother meant I had been surrounded by it from an early age. [I lived in constant fear friends would see my Uncles/Cousins do it and wonder what the hell was wrong with my family]

Maybe we all want to be more cosmopolitan ... or European ... maybe we've lost that fear of being characterised a 'puff' ... maybe we just realise showing warmth rather than talking about it is a good thing - but I can assure you, in the Meadows / St Ann's / Hyson Green areas of Nottingham, the gangs there [which tragically make Nottingham the most dangerous place in Europe per capita] don't hug unless we are talking of their hand round the barrell of a gun.

Amazing movie - I hope people see it and despite the quite-tough-gang-imagery [which in reality I only saw at Forest matches or walking home through the Meadows ... which I only did with a bunch of mates, in daylight, running] the movie did bring back a bunch of happier memories ... including the fact Cola Cubes were totally brilliant!

I was a girl, raised by a hippy family on the West Coast of the US. LOTS of hugging.

George Bush Jr, raised in Texas, I'm guessing not so much hugging.

A similar offender is the recent BBC rendering of Robin Hood (the one with Keith Allen). In spite of the medieval costumes and convincing mud-hut architecture, the cast has come straight from Bluewater shopping centre. Their hair styles, clean skin, perfect teeth, language and mannerisms are entirely modern. You keep expecting them to start texting each other.

Which just goes to show history tells you as much about the time in which it's written than the time it's writing about.

Certainly no hugging in the 80s in the North Notts area as far as I remember, I didn't encounter it until I became a student and got more "middle class" friends. Also certainly NO air kissing and other quasi-foreign greeting rituals that everyone seems to indulge in these days. I blame "Friends" (the sitcom - it's also responsible for some dreadful linguistic ticks, but i'm, like, so over that...)
I'm English, I want written instructions before you attempt to touch me unless I know you very well!

I grew up in the 80's on the mean streets of Matlock, Derbyshire (where Shane Meadows shot his last film 'Dead Man's Shoes'). Does hugging include getting randomly punched in the face? Or putting your arms around your mates while singing 'Let's all go bokaki' while steaming around various pubs? If so then yes, there was loads of it.
Otherwise I suspect you're probably right, no hugging then, not much more now either.

I have also pondered this.

No hugging in the North East of course. My Dad hugged me once, when I got into art college, that was it. We still only shake hands when we part. I now live in Denmark. The Danes love hugging. I struggle arkwardly through at least five huggs daily. My colleagues think it's hillarious to watch.

There's also been some interesting developments in the hand shaking department. I've been caught out by this a few times recently and there's nothing that can make you feel more like an old fuddy duddy than a twenty seven year old attempting to give you a cool 'hand grasp' only for you to fumble it by giving the traditional 'flat-hand' grip in return. AAARRRGGG. It makes my toes curl up just thinking about it.

No hugging in Glasgow? Ah, c'mon Anne did you never score a goal for your school team, go to an old firm game or even a Saxon concert? Remember all those football players in tight shorts kissing each other? OK, we never went for the kissing but male working class culture in Glasgow as I remember it was all macho face but actually pretty tactile. It just needed a proper excuse. Your team winning the cup is a great excuse. However, meeting up with someone in the pub you last saw the previous night is no excuse at all for hugs and a peck on the cheek, yet it seems to have reached epidemic proportions these days.

I can only really comment on hugging stateside, and similarly to the UK there was an unspoken no touching / no hugging rule. However, it seems to be quite in fashion.
Also, This is England was brilliant! Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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