Andy Scott’s book is a study of greetings throughout history, but it is not an etiquette guide. I don’t much care for Andy as a name, especially not when it belongs to someone who hangs around Heathrow Airport observing how people greet their friends and relations in the arrivals hall. How can this man have been a diplomat? An anorak, more like, crossed with an annoying alternative person busing through Africa in deliberate discomfort trying to find the perfect salutation – as practised, ideally, by some unknown tribe with complicated hair and body piercings.
Well, these are exactly the kinds of sweeping, often disagreeable and snobbish judgements we make of each other on meeting – as the author ably demonstrates. No wonder greeting is such a nightmare. Quite soon, I got to like Andy a lot more, particularly once it became clear