17 Feb, 2019 @ 13:00
1 min read

KISS AND TELL: From cave mamas to world records, Belinda Beckett chronicles the history of the snog

RODIN dedicated a bronze sculpture to it, the Italians named a sweet after it – baci – and the average human spends two weeks of their lifetime engaged in it, burning off 26 calories per minute in the process.

Contrary to the lyrics of As Time Goes By in Casablanca the movie, a kiss is so much more than a kiss.

The Art of Kissing, written by Hugh Morris in 1936, is the Grand Slam guide to the leisure sport of tonsil tennis.

His chapter on How to Kiss Girls with Different Sizes of Mouth is a must for anyone confronted with today’s collagen-implanted trout lips.  

SMOOCH: Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

No one really knows how it all started.

One unromantic theory contests it was a preamble to regurgitation, dating from the pre-Moulinex blender Age when cave mama pre-chewed the baby food.

Freud claimed it was an unconscious repetition of infantile delight in breast feeding.  

The early Christians exchanged a holy kiss of peace until the congregation started exploiting the convention to advance their own sexual agendas.

Thereafter they were required to kiss a relic known as a ‘pax’ instead of each other.

In ancient Rome, it was all about status.

Bigwigs kissed cheeks or hands, lesser mortals kissed feet, yuck!

But not as yucky as oral kissing in the days before toothpaste and dental floss…

No wonder medieval maids carried clove-studded apples when courting, exchanging bites for kisses to sweeten their suitors’ breath.

belinda beckett mistress of sizzle
KISSING: Belinda Beckett dissects this ancient art

The British upper lip was not at all stiff in Tudor times when it was the practice, in Court circles, to engage in full-on lip kissing as a social greeting.

Three centuries later, such was social and physical squeamishness, some Victorian doctors preferred to let a patient die than administer the kiss of life.

On a further historical note, some sources claim that when Lord Nelson expired, he actually sighed: ‘Kismet, Hardy’ so that, in mishearing, the young officer made a bit of a prat of himself.  

In Spain, social cheek kissing is as natural as breathing but French kissing in public could have got you thrown into jail in Franco’s time, and in some Middle Eastern countries it still can.

Kissing takes on many guises, not all of which have to do with affection, sex or sincerity.

Think politicians kissing babies or luvvies kissing air at the Oscars, coming up on February 25.

Jane Wyman and Ray Tooney hold the honours for the longest screen kiss in the 1941 movie, You’re In The Army Now.

It lasted for three-and-a-half minutes.

But that’s tame compared to the current Guinness World Kissing Record held by Thai couple Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat.

They snogged without a break for an incredible 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds in 2013.

Pass the lip salve!

If you’re wondering, they were allowed to eat, drink and use the loo provided they didn’t break their embrace…

Belinda Beckett (Columnist)

Belinda Beckett is a qualified journalist and freelance writer based in the Campo de Gibraltar, specialising in travel & lifestyle features and humour columns.

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