Feeling out of touch

                  {Group Hug with loves: Sister With Massive Laugh, myself, Alison and Tina in NYC. 2012}

I am a pervert. Or a politician. Depends on how you look at it.

Basically I like to touch people. All the time. ‘Hands on Donovan’ is a moniker that’s…well, it’s never actually been used to describe me but Hey, there’s still time.

For me touch is my way of communicating. The politician in me loves a good hand on the back. I like a squeeze of the arm or simply a gentle touch of the shoulder. It’s my way of connecting as well as reassuring people. I feel like it’s saying ‘I’m listening and I understand and you are safe in my company’

It can obviously also says ‘Ding Dong, I fancy you’ but this political type of touching is something I normally do at my {currently on pause} place of work. I’m not trying to bone anyone there. Not anymore. He left.

What I’m trying to do is communicate to people that they have arrived for their appointment {I’m a receptionist for a spa/salon} and everything is going to be ok.

However shit their day has been or however stressed they are it can all be forgotten within the next hour. I guide them down the corridor with that gentle shoulder touch or quick arm squeeze, informing them I’ve got their back with regards to anything they need, and introduce them to their therapist.


That’s the conservative politician in me with clients at work. With my colleagues I go full Joe Biden. I’m so much more hands on. I’ll pat legs and stroke the arms of those sat next to me. I want to show sympathy, to congratulate or to chastise. With waiters & barsitas downstairs I’ll go in for a full body hug. Clinging to each other tightly it will say ‘We’re in this together. We can get through today. Yes, we’ve been up since 5am but we can do this!’

The pervert in me, however, is far less restrained with her hugs. More often than not there will be a full on bum squeeze involved. My paws will grab a handful of flesh that says to the recipient ‘Weeeeeee. Honk Honk! I’m so excited to see you!’ I sometimes like to rest my head on a bountiful rack and on occasion I will snort a ferocious dog sniff into someone’s ear as I’m bidding them farewell. My hugs include back pats, heads on shoulders, shoulder stroking. If you’re lucky enough to be under the age of 10 you’ve probably had me bury my face in your cheek or your neck and blow enormous raspberry.

These moments of physical touch are what occupy my thoughts at the moment. They are my declarations of love and without them I feel flat.


I miss them so much that my dreams, when I do manage to sleep, are now peppered with people unable to touch. Of humans standing 2 metres apart. The ease at which I have adapted to steering clear of others on the street is alarming and saddening.

When my Tiny Niece arrived I was so overwhelmed by the adultness that had suddenly occurred I would ask Sister With Massive Laugh to come lie on her sofa next to me. The sofa is not big enough for two, tall, adults but still we would lie there. Spooning together with our legs entwined gently patting one another. The paw pats said ‘I love you. Well done. You’ve survived today’. Now I fantasise about taking even just the bare minimum of touches. Of lying in the park opposite her. Our eyes half closed from the warmth of the sun and our legs outstretched so that just the tips of our trainers touch. Within that toe tap kiss it would say ‘I miss you so much even though you’re right in front of me.’

Because what I’m trying to communicate through my touch is I want to heal. I want to calm and reassure. I want to bring joy and show love.


For newborns touch is the first sense to develop and is a major factor in behavioural and physical progression within children. A wonderful New Yorker article by Marie Konnikova looks at the psychological, as well as health benefits, of physical touch for all age ranges. {Read HERE} A regular massage helps, hugs even high fives! I replay in my mind the medicine that was the last time I saw Tiny Niece. Giggling and squealing, she climbed all over me. Eventually settling herself in the nook of my arm for all of a minute before the clambering recommenced. I think about when I went to say goodbye she asked if she could kiss me. Because it was the start of all this craziness I offered my cheek and not my lips to receive that tiny, loud, funny little kiss. 

And it’s not only human physical touch I long for. I regularly think about the sun kissing my face and, later in the year, my whole body. I dream of the sea enveloping me in it’s embrace and surrounding my whole body.

Hey, I’d take a dog right now. I ain’t fussy. Any dog that’s not taller than my knees would be a welcome furry body hugging buddy. As long as it wasn’t muddy. Or breathy. No one likes a muddy, breathy dog.


So, until we can all start feeling each other up again. Until we can kiss and pat and stroke and hug with so much vigour we’re left breathless. Until that happens I guess we’ll just have to touch ourselves. Because, to paraphrase Rupaul, If you can’t touch yourself, how in the hell you gonna touch somebody else. Can I get an Amen?

Stay safe Lovers. Perhaps more importantly stay sane.

  • sharlene dolan
    Posted at 11:30h, 03 April Reply

    This has come on the first real day of the blues during the two weeks I have stayed home,1 single journey to Sainsbury’s local to buy things that were essential for a Sunday (every day is like Sunday) WINE

    It has made me remember that I have the blessing of having my grown children home to touch ,as often as I can. My daughter frequently demand “stroke me”and my sons warm hugs out of no where as he swoops down on me, usually at the perfect moment,

    I miss the hugs of my friends and the hugs I would often bestow on my customers,I remember the first time I met my father in law and my then boyfriend asked me to hug his dad, he couldn’t and never had.So I did and poor Peter didn’t know quite what to do so kind of head butted me in an awkward attempt at a kiss on the cheek.. 16 years later our embraces are awkward but he tries and now Phil also has a go, with far less success .

    There is a kind of touching between my daughter and I that replaces words, replaces a conversation she resolutely refuses to have. I can hug her, hold her, stroke her, brush her hair ,hold her hand until the words come.

    • Ms Donovan
      Posted at 14:27h, 03 April Reply

      Beautifully said my Fwend.
      I’m glad you’ve got M & J there for loving hugs and I’m sorry it’s your down day today. It’ll pass. I promise! Here’s to butt squeezes and full on snogs when we meet up again.
      Love you long time…hang in there!
      In the words of our opposite flat, who we’ve now seen twice now during the Clap for Carers, ~ We can do this!!

  • Maggie
    Posted at 22:18h, 04 April Reply

    Just beautiful and apt in every way. Here’s to a world of hugs and all the rest one day in the near future

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