Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Adding A Great New Handshake

I've been trying to piece together the number of times I've written here on the blog about my handshake collection. I first wrote about it 2005 and have added to it a few time since then. I collect handshakes and have ever since I heard the story about Orson Welles telling someone that his mother had shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln. I just found this while googling around about Welles' handshake collection, it was in some online newspaper Mail Online in 2018.

A few evenings later, Welles was in full flow. He swigged a mouthful of wine and grabbed my hand. ‘This hand that touches you now, Dorian, once touched the hand of Sarah Bernhardt. Can you imagine that? And when she was young, Mademoiselle Bernhardt had taken the hand of Madame George, who had been the mistress of Napoleon! At this very moment in time you are three handshakes away from Napoleon! It’s not that the world is so small, but that history is so short.’

So, yes, I collect handshakes and yesterday I added someone new to my list, even though the handshake took place many years ago. I just didn't know the connection back then. My sister-in-law who sends me photos also sends links to interesting articles. She sent this link, an article by Paul McCartney that he wrote for the The New Yorker about writing the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby. It is a lovely and interesting story. In it he mentions that while he was writing it, he showed the poem to Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. WHAT??? I was so surprised. Paul McCartney knew Ginsberg and Burroughs? That's wild news to me. So, back in the day when I was the volunteer coordinator of the Kerouac Conference in 1982 at Naropa and doing a poetry workshop with Ginsberg, and going to Ginsberg's house to file away his "faded yellow newspaper clippings" for him, and giving William Burroughs a ride back to his hotel and helping him out of the car... I was adding Paul McCartney's handshake to my list. I was so surprised and absolutely beamingly happy about that. Paul McCartney... and you know what that means... John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr... even the Queen... no wait.. I think I already had the Queen's. Does the Queen even shake hands? Turns out she does! Scored!

I love a new handshake.

38 comments:

  1. Love the idea but at 89 next weeek I think it is a bit late for me to start a collection.

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    1. WeaverofGrass-- It would be interesting to think back in time to all the hands you've shaken and then trace their histories.
      Your comments have ended up in the "awaiting moderation folder." I just found this one and many others. I'm so sorry I hadn't notice before that they were not showing up in my email notification. Thank you for continuing to stop by and comment.

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  2. When the Queen shakes hands the act is not to be taken literally. Potential handshakers are instructed to "touch" rather than shake. And with good reaon. If all the handshakes she'd received had been full-blooded she might well be doing the job these days with a prosthetic extension.

    I myself am not an enthusiastic handshaker and blame my experiences in the USA for this. During the early days I was introduced to a number of wives, to whom I proffered my hand as I would have done in the UK.. After which I was taken aside and told not to initiate this form of greeting, only to respond if the wife appeared willing. I could have handled this if, over the years, the etiquette hadn't evolved. Now it seemed I was expected to embrace - even kiss - women I barely new. Not a pleasant obligation. Where I was born kissing was rare and very little of it appeared in public. Social kissing was one of the practices I was glad to leave behind as I boarded the SS France on our return home. Why the ship? We were taking our car back as luggage and that's such a fuss when you fly.

    In a drinking club in London a smiling man grasped my hand and said, "Hello Roderick, I'm Denis Compton." My immediate reaction - which I'm glad to say I suppressed - was to say he didn't need to tell me that. Imagine Willie Mays greeting you that way three decades after his retirement from baseball. Compton, a cricketer, was famous mainly in the fifties and early sixties. But then maybe you weren't into baseball. Or cricket.

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    1. Roderick-- When I was googling around to find a photo of a handshake, I found so many articles expressing relief that Covid had at least stopped this practice. I love my handshake collection, and would be glad to add someone new. Now I'm wondering if by some chance we are just a few degrees of handshakes away from each other. I think it may be so. Wonderful story about your cricketer meet-up. I wasn't much a sports fan, but my dad and brothers were in a very big way.

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  3. Not so remarkable that McCartney knew Burroughs and Ginsberg. There were three Liverpool poets who came to prominence in the 60s - Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough - who were very influenced by the beat poets. McCartney's brother was in The Scaffold group alongside McGough.

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    1. John-- I had no idea about this wonderful connection between the beats and Liverpool poets. Ah the wonderful artful small world. I love it!

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  4. Paul is happy to hold your hand!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jenWdylTtzs

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    1. am-- You made me laugh out loud. Thank you so much for that. I love it!

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  5. This is like "degrees of separation" only better. You have an amazing handshake collection. Hope this pandemic hasn't disrupted the flow.

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    1. Patti-- The last handshake I got was a few years ago at the Co-op. I shook an old man's hand who had been good friends with Jerry Garcia back in the 60s. It was a lovely addition.

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  6. What a great story of handshakes, like Bacon's six degrees of separation! I happened to have two to share. A couple of weeks ago I had my first handshake offered by my cardiologist. No hesitation, I jumped to his warm dry touch...appreciating the first since before March 2020. I then mentioned this to my own primary doc yesterday, and he proceded to get out his sanitizer, gave himself and me a squirt, and shook my hand...then gave us both another portion of sanitizer. It wasn't quite the same.

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    1. Barbara-- I love your handshake story. Now I'm wondering what famous persons these two doctors have shaken hands with. The list could be so cool.

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  7. That's a very cool concept. It's sort of like the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game!

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    1. Steve-- It is like Six Degrees of Separation with the closeness of an actual handshake.

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  8. Interesting activity. Much is learned by participating in this activity.

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    1. Red-- It's an activity I have enjoyed for many, many years.

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  9. Six degrees of separation is really only 1 or 2 degrees when you really get down to it. Imagine all the people who are now 1-2 degrees separated from you! And Burroughs and Ginsberg! What a history!

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    1. 37paddington-- I was very lucky to have spent the early 1980s in Boulder, Colorado when the celebration of the 25th anniversary of On The Road was happening at Naropa. It was quite a time. I loved that I was able to be the volunteer coordinator for the conference. All the surviving beats were there.

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  10. This is all news to me. You have a handshake collection. I am in awe. Paul knew Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs? And they may have influenced Eleanor Rigby? Not to mention about the Queen. Didn't know about her handshaking protocols.

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    1. Ally Bean-- I can't remember where and when I heard Orson Welles talking about his handshake collection, but it was a long time ago. I have loved adding to my collection since then. I lucked out being the volunteer coordinator for the Kerouac Conference 1982 in Boulder, Co. I spent the summer hanging out with the old beats. It was great!

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  11. I think you have Mick Jagger too.

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    1. Catalyst-- I hadn't thought of that. Wow!! The list keeps get longer and longer. I love it.

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  12. The Queen does shake hands you see it on the TV though I'm not sure she does at the moment

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    1. Billy-- I love having the Queen's handshake by two degrees of separation!

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  13. I LOVE your handshake stories, Robin. We really are all connected.

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    1. Hey Tara... have we ever shaken hands? I bet we have. They're your handshakes too now!

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  14. Well, a handshake collection is a new one for me! I can't remember whose hand I have shaken that might be important enough to keep track of! You have had an exciting life, Robin Andrea!

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    1. EllenD-- I was very lucky that my time in Boulder, Co coincided with the Kerouac Conference in 1982. It was quite a gathering of old beat poets and writers. I was the volunteer coordinator and got to meet and be with all them. My life has been pretty low key since then. LOL!

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    1. Dr Michelle-- Yes, we are-- all the way down to our bones.

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  16. Oh wow! So much history. I love the handshake collection. And to coordinate the Kerouac Conference. Double wow.

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    1. Colette-- I was the volunteer coordinator. I organized the volunteers who did all the volunteer work to make this conference happen. From picking up the participants at the airport (I picked up Abbie Hoffman) and getting them to their lodgings, then getting them to the conference during their appearances, etc. I have this very fond memory of Allen Ginsberg walking out of the university building where the conference was being held and shouting my name, "Robin... Robin... who is picking up so and so (I wish I could remember who was talking about), Robin... where is my ride?"

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  17. hmmm. I wonder how close I am to famous people? probably not very.

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    1. ellen-- You never know who someone else's hand has touch. We used to see an old neighborhood guy here walking to the co-op and back. The cashier at the co-op told us that the guy was a longtime friend of Jerry Garcia's. What a surprise that was.

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  18. Can you extend this to include elbow taps?

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    1. Paul-- Absolutely! Have you elbow-tapped someone? Please share the news.

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  19. When Betsy was in high school the band played at a Nixon rally. At some point Nixon shook her hand and said, "Hi, Sweetie". Kissinger; Khruschev; Mao? The mind boggles.

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    1. Phil-- Now I'm wondering if we shook hands when we met all those years ago. I think we did. I'm sure we hugged. Know what that means? Woohoo you guys handed me a bunch of commies! LOL!

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