The other day, a young (20-something) couple walked by me with their arms wrapped tightly atop each others shoulders.
Seeing this took me back forty years in an instant. This is my memory of how young people embraced in the hippy and post-hippy eras; no longer standard 1950s’ hand-in-hand nor the boy’s hand curling round the girl’s waist but this egalitarian, unisex – and surely quite uncomfortable – expression of lovedupness.
The couple would typically be patch denim clad, flared trousered, smiley badged kids who might have walked out of a youth club or a Coke advert. Their embrace, in its compression, drew them together and down towards the ground as if they were a little overpowered by their own affection (and affectation).
This shoulder hugging memory had become so faded that I didn’t know it was there until I saw it played out before my eyes.Embed from Getty Images
Here, the arms aren’t nearly high enough to qualify, they should be virtually horizontal, but this is the best image I could find.
I wonder why the shoulder-top embrace has become so rare? Perhaps it lives on at festivals. Or might it not now seem a little too soft or even drippy for a high-fiving, snapchatting world?
Maybe modes of behaviour subject to revivals just as fashions are. Or perhaps the couple I passed by really were ghosts from the early 70s.