As the heated debate over when and how to ease lock-down swirls around us I have been pondering a question.
When do we stop clapping for the NHS/carers/paperboys/prostitutes? I have never been very good at New Years Eve timings god help me if we have to all go outside and clap at 8 pm every Thursday when the pubs are open!
I guess I should set my stall out from the start, I have not clapped and I find the whole thing rather cringe worthy. When this started it was in countries that had a strict lock-down, people never leaving their houses, and it was a warming gesture to struggling workers walking back through deserted cities.
It was never going to be the same in the UK was it? Firstly we never really locked-down and secondly, well we are a bit rubbish at this kind of thing really. When we see something heartwarming the English way has always been to copy it and then to repeat it, continuously, like it will always get better, frankly we don’t know when to stop.
The clapping has slowed down in some areas but I am still met with grown adults banging saucepan lids with spoons as if they have skipped dinner at the special needs home. In other areas there are people going out of their way to visit streets that have virtual street parties. All of this is in aid of people who are going to work, that’s basically it.
Before you curse me I am not saying that these people are not great, far from it, but weren’t they always? I have always appreciated the postman walking through awful weather with my mail, the binmen emptying bins on scorching days and the nurses caring for us all. Has anything dramatically changed in any of the workers lives, no not really, PPE and rules have changed and clearly risk is higher but they are really just going to work.
Yes the risk of medical staff contracting the current virus is high but it is with SARS, HIV, Aids and every other novel condition and we didn’t give those conditions a round of applause did we? The supermarket staff, delivery drivers, bakers and all have done a splendid job of… well going to work really.
Don’t misunderstand me I remain grateful for all of the people who work hard to keep us safe whenever that may be but I don’t favour clapping to an empty street as a way of showing my appreciation. It is the same with all of these kind-hearted souls delivering lunch to the NHS or free takeaways, what has changed? Do you people think that they did not eat lunch before? How do you think they coped before you dropped off sandwiches and cake?
The absurdity (although well meant) of offering NHS staff free curry and pizza seems to have completely passed the nation by. Three months ago these people were, quite correctly, telling us that they were struggling to cope as the nation ate its way into an obesity crisis! When we come out of this we will be back to sugar and fat tax campaigns to reduce our obesity levels, how bad is the medical expert going to feel demanding a tax on a product that he has eaten for free for the last 3 months? Perhaps that is part of the plan….
Of course the medical crews are having to deal with death and that is not a nice experience for anyone. I don’t want to burst any bubbles here but its probably a good idea to put your saucepan lid and spoon down before I carry on. You do realise that a significant number of the people who go into a hospital through the front door leave, in a box, from the back door, its not just coroanavirus that kills its always been happening.
I know its a shock but its true death is stock and trade of the healthcare profession. Don’t get caught up in the whole ‘save lives’ rhetoric all they can do is delay death because, you see, death is an inevitable and irrefutable result of life.
So basically what appears to have happened is that we have had some time at home to reflect and have decided that the medical profession is not for us. We have realised that we are grateful that there are people out there doing this because we don’t fancy the job. Then some Italian has had a brain wave and we have seen a video of it so now half the country are clapping like hungry seals on a Thursday.
And now we are in that English loop where we don’t know when to stop. Like standing up at a wedding or applauding a speech we are all feeling uncomfortable but waiting on a cue to stop. Hopefully we will just drift off , as is our way, and kinda forget we ever did it, otherwise the future looks very odd.
Imagine all employers having to give a 5 minute break at 8 pm for the ‘nation’s clap’. Trains and lorries stopping and the country grinding to a halt. When airlines return to business would you want to hear your captain, after putting the seat-belt lights on, announcing ‘Ladies and gentlemen this is going to be a difficult landing so please bear with us’ followed by a lurching plane and a round of applause from the cabin?
Imagine if Sully, when deciding to ditch in the Hudson, had to take 5 minutes out to bang his pen on his cap in support of the nation. Shoplifters and burglars going crazy because they know all the police are outside the hospital flashing their headlights.
Lets not make this a national past time. Remember those children and grandchildren who have enjoyed the break will look at you in your dotage banging your saucepan lid as you dribble over your colouring in book and say “she was never the same after 2020”