Another politeness question in this week's programme was the etiquette of greeting ― in Mike's case by the expected handshake and the unexpected kiss. Having lived in several other countries, I don't feel it unnatural to kiss cheeks, but I do tend to flick an internal switch before I act foreign in this way.
But kissing isn't necessarily a substitute for a handshake. I used to tell foreigners that handshaking is very rare in Britain. Ignoring the congratulatory handshake, I believed that the norm was to shake hands once in a lifetime with any given individual ― on the occasion that you're introduced, or introduce each other. This I thought (and still do) was true of the greeting How do you do!
When I came to Scotland, I changed this to saying Once in a lifetime in England and once a year in Scotland. This is because people here shake hands when they meet at the start of a new year.
Well OK, I exaggerated. We shake hands more often than I reckoned, but still far less than in other cultures and countries. What should I have said? When do the rest of you shake hands or kiss?