I have been a teacher for 31 years, a head teacher for 16 years and, at the age of 55, this much I know about…how we must keep on saying, “Hello”.

“And those that used to say hello simply pass you by.”
from Think for a Minute by The Housemartins

I hail from Sussex. One of the unexpected pleasures that struck me when we began living in the North was being greeted in the street by complete strangers. People I had never met said, “Hello” as I walked along York’s pavements. For a southerner, it was initially unnerving, but soon became a reassurance. Whilst I will never be an assimilated Yorkshireman, I felt welcome in God’s own county.
A five-mile early morning walk around York is a staple feature of my lockdown day. I follow a route along the River Ouse. I see dozens of people. It feels odd, but understandable, that we skirt around each other, maintaining a healthy two metres of separation. But what has upset me is the bowed heads, averted eyes and the awful silence. I mouth, “Good morning” but rarely is my salutation reciprocated.
Whilst we keep our distance, there’s no need for us to be so distant.
In a post-Coronavirus world there will be a new normal; I just hope the hearty Yorkshire “Hello” survives.

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This post has 3 Comments

  1. John, we have said the same thing down here in Sussex when walking Maisie our dog. Hope you are all well, take care Carol & David

  2. Great to get this on my email again John. Cheered me up! Thank you!
    As I go for my daily walk about one in five people actually smile and/or wave!
    I also notice that runners do not get out of the way and make me move. Cyclists on pavements also expect me to move!
    Apart from that I find people on social media are very friendly, mostly!
    Keep safe and well, John!
    PS Love and good recovery to Michael Rosen!!

  3. Spot on John!
    Posted by me on Facebook, 25 Feb, 2019:
    Each day as I walk round Wimbledon Common I pass quite a few folk. Joggers, courting couples, folk walking their dogs. Even more folk walking other people’s dogs.
    Most avoid eye contact. Certainly ignore my cheery “afternoon” as I stride past, so they know I’m not seeking conversation, or company. I’ll get the occasional nod. The odd grunt…
    This afternoon the chap marching in the opposite direction, not only maintained eye-contact, he replied to my “Afternoon”!
    “All reet, how’s you” he said, but not breaking stride so I knew the question was rhetorical. That explained it… #beingnorthern

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