Clapping the NHS

My body feels strange. I’m not used to being so inactive. I’m worried about the sprightly old folk who can’t so easily go for their daily accidental exercise. I normally get my accidentals running for buses or ramping up heart rate to crazy levels about almost completely pointless things when viewed from outside.

Now I’m here in my flat surrounded by tech, wine, mice and food. I’ve been improving my cooking and teaching myself to edit videos and now I’m involved in a production of The Tempest that will take place totally online. It’s a recurrence of the bonkers one I did at the beginning of this whole run of work, so it makes sense that it’s what I end up doing again now we have all momentarily retreated into our homes. I can remember the warmth of last summer whilst I’m in strange isolation in my home.

This evening just before 8pm I went into Kitcat’s room and threw open the window. She’s in the countryside somewhere so the temperature drop won’t bother her. I threw the window open wide and felt the wind rush in from the river. At 8pm I started cheering and clapping, thinking I’d be the only one. There was a social media drive about clapping for the health workers. I respect that. There are a lot of people I love who are staring down the barrel of this nasty respiratory virus. The next week is likely to be the worst time for them in their work, and while many of us sit at home playing games and drinking wine, the people who will do everything to stop us from dying are turning up to work and making the world a better place. Some friends are even working as cleaners in specialist Corona-wards. Chapeau.

I stood in my window overlooking the river, while to my left the majestic Edwardian blocks thronged around. I didn’t really expect much. A jogger was pounding the pavement as I started, and moments from my first “whoop!” I heard cheering and clapping from all around. Directly below me Christine was in her window clapping as well. The whole crescent lit up with noise. The jogger stopped short, momentarily confused as the whole world cheered at him. Then he just started clapping as he ran, automatically, clearly aware it was “a thing”.

It was very moving, to feel the connectivity. Just for a moment to be more openly part of this nebulous sea of linked humanity even here in the “fuck you!” part of London. There were people standing in the porches where their windows look on nothing.

To my right is opus dei, now fronting a school. To my left and opposite is depressed sheltered housing where the fire trucks needlessly come once a week. My direct neighbor to the left is the Lithuanian cultural attaché. Directly in front of me is the Thames. My crescent proves to be a single line of houses leased by The Royal Hospital.

With all that in mind, there was a lot more activity and noise than I would have expected from this sleepy line of houses. Good on you, Embankment Gardens…


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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