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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Friday 22 March 2013

For the love of hugging....

Have you noticed, on Twitter...the number of virtual `hugs` that get sent around if someone`s having a bad day? I`ve sent a few. (I`m going to send one to Kelly in a minute.) And I`ve had a few back. Mad? No--it`s touching. Without touching. Someone out there, often someone you`ve never met, feels for you and cares about your problems. I like that about Twitter.

I like hugs in `real life`, too. Because they can convey so much.

A couple of days ago, I witnessed two grown men: one English, one French, wrapped round each other in a HUGE bear hug. Neither spoke the other`s language terribly well, and they hadn`t seen each other for months. A handshake didn`t seem enough. So they just went for it. With a bit of pally backslapping and throat clearing to round it off. And then the Frenchman came in for a blokey shot of Scotch.

I know a bit of French--but sometimes, not the words I need. Down the same little lane in France, a dear friend had just lost her mum. I needed to say something, and it had to be right. I texted a brilliant linguist mate of mine back in Blighty, and she penned a couple of lines for the card. I wrote them, sealed it up, bought some flowers, and tiptoed down her drive. Why did I tiptoe? You just do, don`t you, in those circumstances.

Annick opened the door, and without words, we hugged. I thought I ought to say something too....and started with the usual `ca va...?`...but found myself biting my lip, and lurching into phrases like `tres triste....` and then stumbling into how I`d `pense` about her in the `jours difficile` that lay ahead. Then, both of us close to tears...I hugged her again. Which hopefully said it all.

The next day...same lane ; more hugs--but happy ones...this time from another French neighbour I hadn`t seen for months. This was a little `yelp with delight` hug. She speaks no English, and she`s heard my entire French vocabulary over and over, several times. (Yes, the roses in her garden really are beautiful. Yes her kitchen is very sunny. I just don`t need to tell her every time.....) But the hug made it clear to both of us that we love each other`s company, get along just fine with or without words, and can`t wait to see each other again.Probably in her sunny kitchen, overlooking her beautiful roses.

And how about a hug from a complete stranger? Ever had one? I survived a nasty crash on a snowy M6 once. The car skidded and landed on its roof, in a ditch. Dangling from my seatbelt, I realised that nothing hurt. But wondered whether the car might just catch fire. Minutes later, I`d kicked the door open , scrambled up the bank ...and fell into the arms of some bloke who`d stopped to help. I just wept with relief at being alive and unhurt, and all the while, he hugged me tight, like a long lost friend. Thanks, mate.

See? Hugs are so useful when you don`t know the words. Or when you do know the words, but because you`re so choked up, you can`t say them. Some hugs you just never, ever forget. That car crash hug is one of those. Another was when we left our eldest daughter as she started university. September goodbyes on a London pavement. So much I wanted to say, still, but nothing came out. Just a gasp and a sob. Those trembling, loving, `can`t let you go` hugs stay with you forever.

Anyway, it`s freezing out. Warm up a bit. Have a coffee . And a hug from me x

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