The Three O’Clock Cuddle


I’m a sentimental young fool, as well as a bit of a traditionalist. As long as the tradition makes sense and especially if it’s one of my own. With this in mind, here is today’s story.

“Can all available members of staff please meet on the 2nd floor for the three o’clock huddle?”

Little did that member of staff at that branch of Boots on Edinburgh’s Princes Street know, they had achieved immortality. I had gone out on an errand with my friends Beth and Cat. Thanks to my poor hearing and the tannoy system, I misheard ‘huddle’ – a word from sports which means ‘to form a close group to discuss tactics’ – as ‘cuddle’. Businesses love using sports images. They all sound so declarative. They talk about ‘ball park figures’, ‘hit it out of the park’, ‘down for the count’, and such things. And so it happened that the three o’clock huddle became the three o’clock cuddle.

I embraced Cat and Beth in turn, to their bewildered looks.

“Didn’t you hear the man? It’s time for the three o’clock cuddle!”

They told me the guy said huddle, but I heard what I heard. The idea was planted. A quick wee entry on my calendar, changed the setting to repeat every day, and that was that. Every day at three o’clock I’d try and cuddle someone.

The effect was… interesting. Some people were right into it and loved the sound of it. A few preferred to say ‘hug’ instead of cuddle. This, to my ear, sounds less sincere so I’m quite hardline on the name. Some traditions are important. Commit to the cuddle. When it’s possible I prefer to cuddle the straightest, most stoic looking men. They tend to need the affection the most and though they are slow to get involved, they do come to appreciate it. It’s a fun quirk and is perfectly harmless. I try to make sure people, are at least somewhat on board with it first.

It started as a very inclusive tradition. It was originally anyone, anywhere, as long as it was three PM. Unfortunately, I had to roll this back. Eventually I got a job and it was deemed ‘unprofessional’ – a horrible word that to me means robots, the blank eyed stare of an automaton. In addition, some people were quite anti. In the past I thought those were people who just needed it the most but I eventually became aware that you can’t reach everyone all the time.

It was a hard lesson. Finding out, as a fairly extroverted people-pleasing person, that you can’t reach them all. It hurt. I thought that if we were free of the narrow confines that everyone seems committed to, we could all become fellow creatures. We could all cuddle and get over the nonsense that divides us. Compromise is a horrible truth of this world, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’d hate to cause unnecessary discomfort.

Whenever possible I still do it. It may not be marked in my phone, but it’s marked on my heart. My commitment to my love of all, even if some people suck a bit. Cuddles can unite us far more than they can divide us. And, you know what?, I just like cuddling people.

So spread the love. If it’s ever three and you see I’ve forgotten, come surprise me. If you see someone else who looks like they need it, go and shock them. Making the world a bit uncomfortable for a minute is well worth the gain in comfort and love that you and everyone else will feel.

Please cuddle responsibly.

10th day and still going strong, I aim to finish 21 more of these on different topics. Stay with me!


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