Free Hugs? By Jove, I’ll Bally Well Need to Think About It!

Who would refuse a free hug from a very attractive man? Well, funny story. On a dusky London evening, in the neon glow of Piccadilly Circus, alone and a bit raw, I strolled in the heart of the most exciting city in the world. I scarcely noticed it; I was aware only of human obstacles and death-threatening traffic. I stopped; ahead of me, grinning and holding forth a sign, was a fresh-faced and bearded man, buff, dark, and as cute a pram full of day-old kittens. Free hugs was the simple message. I watched for a while as another similar sight for sore eyes  took photos. A selection of passers by came up and fell into the hugger’s arms. I was curious to look at his face as he hugged. Would it be reserved, perfunctory? In fact, each time he hugged, his face, unseen to the hugee, lit up as brightly as the advertising on the billboards that framed him. I asked the photographer what they were doing. Yet I craved a hug too, a big warm hug from the handsome bearded man. Asking questions seemed safer. The photographer explained their mission, to bring happiness, and travel across Europe. I looked back at the man with the sign, as a selection of men and woman, young and old, came up and received their free hugs. Something was stopping me. And by now the situation was a tad constipated. I could not act. I really wanted a hug, a childlike and exciting moment of human contact. Then the photographer asked me if I wanted to go up for a hug. I felt like a cat, sniffing the outstretched hand of a human. I asked for a moment to consider, all terribly Hugh Grant with a broom handle up his posterior, and I asked myself what was stopping me? I am not sure I ever got to the bottom of the question, but clearly part of me was blocked, closed down and calloused to seeking out warmth and novelty, wary of other humans. Thankfully I could not quite resist and feeling as awkward as a teenager in a nudist camp I went up sheepishly. His hug was strong, almost a squeeze, and I laughed with pure joy. It was delicious. In fact I enjoyed it so much I went back for seconds but don’t tell anyone. I smiled all the way home. The world did not seem such a bad place after all, if you let it.



One comment on “Free Hugs? By Jove, I’ll Bally Well Need to Think About It!

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