INSTANCES OF DISTANCES
Are you a hugger? A hand shaker? A continental kisser or a high fiver? Perhaps you’re a back patter, an arm puncher, a fist bumper?
Whatever your preferred method of greeting fellow humans, you’ll have had to reconsider it of late. Even the least tactile of us would surely admit that anything is preferable to the painful pause where a greeting should be, that we’ve since become accustomed to. Body language experts claim that historically, a handshake was a way of demonstrating that you weren’t wielding a weapon and so ‘pose no threat’, sadly the same logic cannot be applied for corona virus.
We’ve collated some historical instances of distances that may go some way to soothe your contact starved soul.
THE HAYS CODE
In the 1920s, the film industry was plagued by scandal and Hollywood bosses worried that the threat of outside censorship might impinge on the industry’s creative freedom. So with the help of a catholic publisher and a Jesuit priest, The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America created The Hays code. A set of guidelines which informed the way sex, morality and violence were depicted onscreen.
Even married couples were not permitted to be shown to be sleeping in the same bed and scenes shot in the bedroom required each actor to have one foot on the floor at all times. Writers and directors found, what were for the time. novel ways to convey physical intimacy, such as cutting to a shot of the couple smoking cigarettes.
Unachievable body standards are not just a modern trope. In 18th century France a fashion was born that would see women all over Europe investing in hip-accentuating undergarments made of whale bone and wooden hoops that widened even the dinkiest of hips to a staggering seven feet.
It seems the richer you were, the larger you wore your hips, presumably because you had a bigger house and therefore wider doorways. Curator of costume at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, Emma McClendon, states that voluminous garments were designed to ‘take up space, particularly in relation to status’ and perhaps it was just an added bonus that wearing a dress the size of a five bar gate also kept you a little further from the disease ridden sniffling masses.
THE 20CM RULE
It’s not easy to stop teenagers from touching each other at the best of times, so we can only sympathise with teachers who will now have the added job of trying to enforce this during a pandemic. Many schools have been known to enforce a 20 cm rule to prevent students from participating in public displays of affection. If history is anything to go by, this is perhaps a rule that goes largely disregarded behind the bike sheds.
SPACE BEFORE SPACE
Nasa’s astronauts are the real quarantine pros. Since the crew of Apollo 7 got ill in space and were unable to get hold of medication – it is now mandatory for all astronauts to quarantine for a minimum of two weeks before lift off. Crew members from the iconic moon landing vessel, Apollo 11, were also required to quarantine upon re-entry in case they have picked up any ‘moon bugs’. They did find ways to pass the time though, Neil Armstrong put some hours in on the ukulele and their wives popped by with President Nixon to say hello.
CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE
Just one day after the disaster on 27th April 1986, Soviet authorities instigated a 30km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant. Roughly 350,000 people were evacuated in total, never to return to their former homes. The site is now said to be abundant with nature and wild animals including elk, wolves, Mongolian wild horses, wild boar and lynx have moved in.