I think Ireland could be sponsored by the word ‘lovely’. When you see someone you slightly know and you chat about whatever’s at hand (your visit, the weather, places you’ve been, things you’ve done, whatever’s occurring that’s caused you both to meet) they’ll quite frequently take your hand, give it a squeeze and a shake and exclaim “Oh lovely!”. Granted this is mostly seen in the generations above mine. But it’s grand.
I went to a friend’s wedding yesterday (it was lovely) and spoke to lots of people and they all thought it was lovely, and those I’d met before did the hand-holding thing as they told me it was lovely, and a few even looked earnestly into my eyes as they did so.
And actually, despite the frequency of the occurrence becoming somewhat humorous in the end (my friends and I giggled each time it happened – though they more at my reaction, for as native Irish, they’re used to this behaviour) it really was lovely.
In the UK we tend to be very superficial and our meetings could probably be sponsored by ‘ok’ or ‘fine’ – these are our standard responses to many situations. But ‘lovely’ is, well, lovely, and it’s honestly meant – people really seem to *feel* more and they don’t mind letting you know.
I shall miss it, but I’m going to try to bring some of the spirit back with me and begin caring about people I hardly know and developing some genuine interest in how they are and whether they’re enjoying life. I shall go against my national sterotypical behaviour and frankly, start trying to give a damn.