I Sometimes Need A Day Off If Excel Crashes - Self Isolation, Day 15.

I'm talking to myself more. That's one side effect of all this. If not to myself then to the guinea pigs, or the hamster, or the TV or wall. I imagine it makes me feel less alone, on a subconscious level, and that the short bursts of nonversation are my mind trying to make some sort of sense out of all the confusion and dread swirling around it. Bravo my mind and all that, but I'm not convinced that improvised songs about cereal are making sense of anything, catchy though they are. Maybe it's just distraction then, a self defense mechanism that fires up whenever something major happens, occupying the part of my brain that would otherwise be wildly panicking. We're all finding little ways to feel better, to grasp at any strands of positivity and feel useful, to contribute, to exist. It can be a victory just to get up and wash before work, when the universe is so clearly reminding you of your averageness. After all, there are people doing a lot more than I am. Risking a lot more than me. So why am I not getting up, opening my front door and clapping when everyone else is?

I'm aware this will be a controversial point of view, so I'm keen to mitigate the worst assumptions and accusations upfront. I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for the work that is done across the wide spectrum of the medical profession. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, technicians, orderlies and many many more  - I couldn't do any of it. They're overworked and underpaid at the best of times, and these most certainly ain't them. People are dying, there's not enough staff or infrastructure and funding is lol, but each and everyone of them rises to the task. I sometimes need a day off if Excel crashes three times consecutively. The service these people provide and the knowledge, skill and mental fortitude required to provide it, are essential for our society to even nearly function. So, unifying and symbolic it may be, uplifting and heartwarming as it is, applauding the ether doesn't seem even close to cutting it. I understand the desire to want to do something, and harbour no ill will toward anyone doing this particular thing, I just don't really get it.

Giving you the clap. Lol.

I think one of the reasons it bothers me, personally, is that it feels a little bit religious. All grand, metaphorical acts and society coming together in loss and despair. A populous looking to the skies, bringing their hands together in hope, and in thanks, for a larger power. It's praying, really, except that in this case we're praying to a publicly funded healthcare system that we definitely know exists - at least, it does for the moment - and we're hoping it will all stay stuck together until we're out the other side. We don't need faith for this one, folks. I'm probably over subscribing to this a bit but I've been inside my house for a very long time now. What I'm not saying is that praying is bad. If it helps you then, by all means, pray away, but be aware that it's not helping anyone else. It can't. You're talking to guinea pigs and hamsters and walls. It's calming and comforting and your personal mantra may even drip-carve a change in you over time, but it can only change you. Much like with prayer, this clapping is for the clapper more than it is for the clappee. It will make no difference. No one is listening, no one can hear you.

They'll all be working for a start, won't they. They won't be able to hear it over the whirs and beeps of life saving equipment. Especially if they've got their stethoscopes in. That should be obvious, shouldn't need to say it. More importantly though, is it even really for them? Aside from the slight and brief spiritual bump it may give the odd employee, there's not a lot of gain for the NHS. If every clap was a pound in a jar, sure. If our flapping hands were somehow wired up to little generators capturing all that kinetic energy, and that energy were piped back to MRI machines and defibrillators, absolutely. What actually happens, though, is that we all go back inside feeling a bit better about ourselves as individuals and as a group, go back to our Zoom meetings or unpause the Playstation, and the unarguable fact that our health service is necessary, under appreciated and constantly fighting not to buckle financially, goes back to that bit in our brains marked 'Noteworthy/As It Ever Was/For Another Time'. 

If you have to label the garment, you have failed in your quest, Wizard of the Wardrobe

Now, there's nothing wrong with making yourself feel better. At the moment you should totally be doing that. I've found that wearing ones dressing gown over ones clothes, and a beanie hat lifted up so it sits delicately on ones noggin, gives one the feeling of being a king. So we're all doing our bit. Just don't forget that's what you're doing: your bit, for you. Don't think that it's done any real good or that anything has changed, just that you really should do something about it when you can. Then, after The Event has passed, do. Sign a petition, go on a march, write to your MP, donate to your local hospital, volunteer, don't keep going to A&E with a sore throat. Whatever you can do, do something to help fix things. Hell, keep up a weekly group-clap as a reminder if it keeps the underlying cause of the applause (rhymes, brilliant) in the public consciousness. Because 'national gestures of general thanks at times of unprecedented crisis' is not a effective model for change.

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