AS we continue to move slowly into this brave new world, one of the things I'm finding tricky to navigate is the humble greeting.

Back in BC – before coronavirus – I was always fairly good at gauging whether a situation might require a handshake, hug, air kiss, fist bump, high five or a simple brisk nod.

Now I'm all adrift. The other week when the tree surgeon arrived to lop some overhanging branches in the front garden, it occurred to me that with social distancing, I've adopted an array of odd and awkward mannerisms when saying hello or goodbye.

These include a wide-sweeping wave reminiscent of onlookers lining the dockside to see off a grand ocean liner on its maiden voyage. Think of the moment when Titanic or QE2 first sets sail. All I'm missing is a tear-soaked handkerchief clutched in my mitt.

Another recent addition to my salutation portfolio is an animated, two-handed gesticulation in the vein of swatting away a persistent fly or being under attack from an invisible entity. Add in a holler and the effect is of a shipwreck survivor who has spotted a rescue vessel on the horizon.

This gave the postman quite a fright the other day when all I was trying to do was get his attention to alert him to the fact that an envelope addressed to someone with the same house number in a nearby estate had accidentally been sandwiched between my letters.

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I'm producing more thumbs-up gestures than a cheesy gameshow host, Borat and Fonzie from Happy Days combined. And my smizing prowess (that's smiling with your eyes for the uninitiated) has come on leaps and bounds.

Yes, it is often stilted and cringeworthy, but I can't imagine the alternative, no matter how often the Prime Minister Boris Johnson bangs on about his desire to "get back to a world where the British people are able to shake hands". Clearly a man who didn't learn his lesson the first time around.

I'm a big proponent of wearing face coverings and masks (if you want to debate that, I'm sure I'll see you below the line in the comments section), although would be the first to admit that they do bring certain challenges when it comes to non-verbal communication.

Inevitably, you find yourself scanning the other person's face – from two metres away, sometimes more – desperately looking for an eye twinkle, a brow arch, even the ears lifting slightly, to figure out if they're smiling back.

That said, one of the good things about masks and face coverings (aside from the important public health benefits, naturally) is that you can be wandering about with a big piece of parsley stuck between your front teeth and no one sees it.

Ditto any stray nose hairs you may have forgotten to trim (although do get round to those before your next important Zoom call).

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Like everything in this curious hinterland being dubbed the "new normal", finding my groove might take a little bit longer yet.

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