Following our journey through the senses, we look at Touch.
This is a sense familiar in all cultures but perhaps valued differently in various regions. In the west, we are not known for being great huggers and our private space is greater.
Post-Covid we are even more conscious of our closeness to others; perhaps less likely to take a proffered hand or offer a cuddle to someone in distress.
As early as the 1950s, psychologist Harry Harlow drew attention to the importance of touch in his studies of baby monkeys.
Today we have new examples around the world, demonstrating the importance of touch, in the stories of the elderly dying behind screens and relatives being deprived of holding hands at a bedside.
Is it necessary to reflect on these changing times in our writing?
Sadly, I guess it must make a difference.
In my first book, The Railway Carriage Child the characters live in a relatively safe era. The threat of the plague has gone. Cholera, which wreaked havoc in my home town in the not too distant past, had receded and Covid was yet to arrive.
My second book, still in the writing stage, Goodbye Bluebell, was planned before covid so I will carry on with the story that ends in July 2018. These characters will not be affected but I wonder how we are going to handle this in future.
Are our student characters going to be sitting in their family home and not partying with their housemates?
Are our younger children to be home-schooled?
Are our nurses’ and doctors’ eyes going to meet over a mask instead of a coffee?
It will be interesting to see where authors take this, but hopefully, we will be back to some sort of normality soon and the paragraphs where my main character is held in a tight embrace by her new lover won’t seem terribly dated before they even reach the book shops.