This week, Bill Turnbull sat next to me to present our first breakfast television show together in six years.
A veteran television presenter, experienced foreign correspondent, writer, football commentator and even beekeeper, in recent years he has also become an inspirational figure in the way he is dealing with his incurable cancer.
It was so wonderful to see him. We have a decade of shared experience and I know how tough things have been.
So, in the opening moments of the programme, I turned to him and did something I rarely do at work — I gave him a hug.
Susanna Reid says she has a long-held reputation in the studio for being someone who doesn’t do professional PDA
It felt right, and I knew the audience would have wanted to do the same if they had been in my position.
But for me to hug someone I work with is extremely out of character — as Piers will attest.
I have a long-held reputation in the studio for being someone who definitely doesn’t do professional PDAs.
There’s an invisible force field around me that keeps the touchy-feelies at arm’s length.
I have never subscribed to the idea that it’s necessary to greet someone in the office by wrapping arms and touching backs.
This week, Bill Turnbull sat next to her to present their first breakfast television show together in six years
If someone approaches, lips pursed for a cheek kiss, I smoothly lean away. Is it just me?
In my job, I meet a lot of people, and some guests are more open than others. My force field is so strong it applies to celebrities, too, and few try to embrace me.
But there are exceptions. It was hard to resist Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery — who won Britain’s Got Talent — kissing my hand before our emotional interview about VE Day this week.
And Tom Cruise welcomed me with open arms on the red carpet a few years ago.
Meryl Streep is warm, but a look-but-don’t-touch celebrity, whereas others, such as Will Smith, find alternative ways to break the ice — he sang ‘Oh! Susanna’ when I met him.
Hugging has been a social hot potato for a while. On the one hand, we are increasingly aware of touch being good for our wellbeing, and on the other, some workplace tribunals have deemed touching inappropriate.
And now there’s coronavirus to complicate matters more.
Virology professor John Oxford says: ‘What we need to do is less hand shaking, hugging, kissing and all that sort of thing.
‘This is a social virus; it rather hates it in England compared with in China, I’d think, because we’re so stand-offish.’
The duo used to present BBC Breakfast together (pictured in 2006) and Susanna says it was ‘wonderful’ to see him after their decade of shared experience
Italians are being advised to avoid their customary peck on both cheeks greeting for the time being, while Americans should think twice about high fives.
So you see, I’m vindicated.
While some may say I am being uptight, I would argue that my attitude to colleagues cuddling is healthier and more professional in the modern workplace.
In the #MeToo era, where people worry that a hug might be misunderstood, it is easier to avoid touching altogether.
Personally, I think most of us instinctively know when hugging is appropriate. A touch on the leg during a driving lesson is clearly off-limits, but a hug from your instructor might feel OK after you’ve passed your test.
I’m not suggesting we ban hugging at work — that would mean you couldn’t wrap your arms around a colleague who is low, or if you wanted to congratulate them on good news.
Bill (pictured on the show on Monday) is a veteran television presenter, experienced foreign correspondent, writer, football commentator and even beekeeper
But extreme care is needed, because there is a power balance in a workplace hug, as Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin discovered when he was forced to resign after staff accused him of giving unwelcome embraces.
Hugging has become a huge minefield. Even the Pope seems reluctant to be too intimate.
He pulled away from followers as they tried to kiss the papal ring recently and even slapped away the hand of a woman who grabbed him.
If even a religious man preaching peace and love doesn’t want people to get too close, are we all doomed?
For Susanna, giving Bill (pictured) a hug felt like the right thing to do. But it was very out of character
No, but there’s a time and a place. Despite my don’t-touch reputation at work, I’m a warm person who loves hugging my family.
And when I see my GMB stylist Debbie Harper at 4.30am on a Monday morning, we always have a bear hug because it feels right as we’re such good friends.
I believe hugs are important and loaded with meaning, and necessary at times of emotion. For me, it’s clear cut.
That’s why I can’t do them casually for work greetings every day. Easier to keep it professional, offer a hand for a firm shake, and then move on to business — and the hand sanitiser . . .
Am I the only one who can’t stand skiing?
Instagram is chock-full of photographs of colleagues on the slopes, making me wonder if I am the only person in TV who doesn’t ski.
I tried it for the first time about ten years ago, but just got shivering cold and wet. I made another attempt last year, but was lucky not to break my leg when I lost control.
Holly Willoughby is an accomplished skier, but Susanna would rather read a book on a terrace in the sun
Holly Willoughby and her family are accomplished skiers. Charlotte Hawkins and her daughter take to it like ducks to water.
But give me a terrace in the sun, overlooking the snow, with a hot chocolate and a book. Less apres ski, more No Ski for me.
My house had a 50 shades of grey makeover
I fear I may have become an interiors cliche.
One in five of us is painting our bathroom, bedroom or kitchen one of 50 shades of grey.
Despite it being the colour of brooding skies and cigarette ash, grey is the most popular choice. I’m a big fan.
Susanna has painted her entire house in various shades of grey
My bathroom is wall-to-ceiling grey tiles, and my kitchen is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe (pictured) — a deep, dark grey with a greenish hue that looks dramatic.
But the danger with picking popular colours is that they tip over into being unfashionable soon after reaching their peak.
I worry that grey’s heyday may be coming to an end, and my favourite shade will go the same way as the avocado bathroom suite and the Anaglypta ceiling.
Give M&S vegan shoes the boot
Susanna wants to give M&S vegan shoes a miss. She has been a vegetarian since the age of 13
Marks & Spencer is definitely on the vegan bandwagon, but I won’t be giving up my suede boots for its vegan trainers.
I cut meat out of my diet at the age of 13, when I thought myself a campaigner of sorts, but my activism has softened since then.
Strident vegans get a lot of attention, but most have more relaxed rules. I started eating fish again when I was 30 and was fed up with lentils. And I cook meat for my family.
Not eating meat now is just a habit, and I’m not giving up my leather shoes — which some would say are laced with hypocrisy.