When and why did large swathes of the British population adopt the habit of kissing not just family but friends and acquaintances on meeting and parting?
The only theory I can think of is that it started when people began taking holidays in continental Europe.
If I dislike the habit, it's mainly because I'm very clumsy at it. When that head-bobbing ritual starts I often end up head-butting people. That would be fine if I lived in Glasgow, but I don't.
Even if I avoid knocking someone unconscious, I'm never quite sure who is supposed to be doing the kissing.
I assume that in mixed sex greetings the man kisses the woman but you occasionally find women who do the kissing. I don't know whether this is down to feminism, an assertion of dominance or the fact that they don't get much physical contact and are gagging for it.
Then there's the problem of not knowing whether someone is a one-cheek kisser or a two-cheek kisser. If you do one cheek and they're left proffering the other while you've returned to nibbling a breadstick, it implies either over-eagerness on their part or personal dislike on yours. Or possibly that they have a personal hygeine problem.
Conversely, if they proffer one cheek and you then make a secondary strike on the other one, you feel you're being over-familiar and that's also the scenario where noses and skulls clash together. In this situation, it's customary for you both to give a little laugh and the kissee might say: "Ooh, another one! Gosh! ha, ha, ha, ha."
Some people are only up for an elaborate piece of mime, also known as air-kissing. But you don't usually know this until you've already transferred several grams of powder and foundation from the woman's cheek to your lips.
Unless, that is, she's one of those women who grasps your shoulders firmly at the start of the ritual and moves your head to the regulation six centimetres from her face on either side before thrusting you back into a vertical position, rather as though she were manipulating a ventriloquist's dummy.
Your relationship with such a woman should be terminated at that point or she'll have her hand up your back and you'll hear yourself saying "You can move in at the weekend and I'll get my will changed on Monday."
Sometimes the air-kisser will exclaim 'Mwah, mwah!' in your ears. This might have been funny the first time anyone did it. But now it's your cue to say there's an accountant with a speech impediment on the other side of the room with whom you are eager to discuss the history of diesel-electric locomotives on the former British Railways Western Region.
Why don't we stop the whole silly nonsense? In my view, we don't need an unnecessary and confusing mezzanine floor of body language between the handshake and the full, tongue-on-the-tonsils snog.
Let's keep our lips to ourselves and our hands in our pockets and stick to the admirably succint working class greeting 'All right?'
Another newish habit is putting '...ster' on the end of people's names, so John Briggs becomes 'The Briggster'.
Don't tell me. America.
Are people too bloody lazy to think up nicknames any more? I've always been a compulsive bestower of nicknames and some of them have stuck with people for life. Nicknames can be affectionate, sarcastic, witty or vicious - or even a combination of all those. But 'the Briggster' is an attempt to turn someone into a 'character' without any wit or thought and without any reference to any of their personal characteristics. Maybe it's the perfect solution for someone who doesn't have any distinguishing features.
But it doesn't work with all names. I think that ideally the name has to be one syllable and end with a consonant. It doesn't work with 'Willie' and not very well with 'Lupin'. Nor does it work with my real names.
So there's no danger of:
"Hi! I'm the Lupinster!
Or the only appropriate response: