Last clap finale?

Tonight’s Clap for Carers will probably be the last time we stand outside our houses on a Thursday night to give our key workers a round of applause for their work in the battle against coronavirus.

Annemarie Plas, the woman who came up with the idea, says it’s the right time for her to stop, although she’s not telling other people to do so.

Some maintain that the eight o’clock ritual has become ‘politicised’ while others, including NHS staff, point to those taking part in the clap who then ignore pleas to stay at home and avoid gatherings, putting more strain on the healthcare system.

There’s been a lot of ‘clap shaming’ talk on the internet, some of it quite bullying, questioning whether saying a massive thank you across the nation is appropriate, particularly when politicians have been underfunding and disrespecting health and social care in this country for years.

‘You can keep your rainbows and applause. We’d rather have a pay rise and respect,’ was the gist of several articles I’ve read by some health workers. On the other hand, there are other carers who say it’s really helped them get through this crisis.

I don’t think it’s fair to make people feel guilty about thanking key workers. And we shouldn’t underestimate the weekly ‘feel-good’ boost for some communities which would otherwise have been cooped-up indoors.

But I do think it’s good that people are questioning the ritual and thinking more deeply about it. As I’ve said before, I hope the energy of the common people can be harnessed to fight against creeping privatisation of the NHS by the powers-that-be.

There has to be some positive action to come out of this pandemic. Maybe I am being naive but I am hoping we as a nation will be far more switched-on when it comes to what is happening around us and to never take things like our health service for granted.

Today’s Sound of Music Through The Square Window will feature a tune for staff and residents at our local care home. I’ll also be playing a song especially for Dominic Cummings, who I figure needs that little uplift only music can give.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

A lasting legacy for the NHS

It’s the valiant Captain Tom Moore’s one hundredth birthday today.

This incredible man was given an RAF flypast and made an honorary colonel in recognition of his fundraising efforts, which have topped more than £30 million for the NHS.

His family say it’s time for him to have a rest now. His donation page will be closed tonight.

Like so many others, Mr Grigg and I have each made a contribution to his campaign. Here in the village we also plan to sing Happy Birthday to him after the weekly eight o’clock Clap for Carers. Earlier, for The Sound of Music Through The Square Window song slot at one o’clock, I played The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) as a mark of respect for all that walking he’s done for such a good cause.

The money he’s raised will make a big difference. Even then, it’s only a drop in the ocean. NHS Charities Together gives £1 million a day to help the publicly-funded NHS do more.

Our support for Captain Tom is the kind of community spirit we must cling on to, long after lockdown is lifted.

NHS workers and carers who come into contact with coronavirus in the course of their working day didn’t sign up for a dangerous occupation.  They didn’t weigh up the pros and cons like those who are thinking about joining the armed forces. Our health workers never expected to be parachuted into a war zone to fight an invisible enemy, putting themselves and their families at risk.

They are not caped crusaders, they’re ordinary, brave people doing their job. Clapping for them is the least we can do.

I read on a Facebook friend’s post that our nation’s outpouring of sentiment for the NHS could be described as ‘Diana-fication’, capturing the public mood at a particular moment in time, and when that moment passes people move on to something else.

It was a thought-provoking post, suggesting the Thursday night clap for carers was all very well but pretty pointless if the nation does not protect and respect the NHS in the future more than it has done in the past or at present.

As the list of NHS workers dying in the line of duty grows ever longer, it is right to ask questions. Could more have been done earlier to combat this crisis? Should we have been locked down sooner?

Yes, we need to focus on the positive, the here and now, because that’s what’s important. We need to get through this. We need hope and light at the end of the tunnel. But you can bet your life the proverbial fan will have something hitting it when this is all over. It’s not being negative for us to think more deeply now about the things that are important to us, not just in our personal lives, but in the wider world. Things like the NHS and how we treat it.

The challenge for us, as the people, is to ensure that we and the politicians acting on our behalf do not move onto something else once this is over. We – and they – have a duty to use this ‘Diana-fication’ as an opportunity for change. Rather than whinge or marvel about this phenomenon, whichever side of the political fence we sit on, we must harness it for the future. For the nation’s benefit rather than the politicians’.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual fluffy and irreverent self. I just needed to say what I’ve said today.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Lasting respect for the NHS

Last night, the whole Square turned out to clap their hands and rattle those pots and pans to support our NHS and other keyworkers for carrying on working in this world crisis.

It began with a ripple further up the village and then everyone was at it, even a doctor at the bottom of the lane with a gong.

This celebration of our NHS is now going to happen every week during the lockdown. But, as my GP niece said on social media, thanks for the applause – but I just wish people would listen, be a little less selfish, and treat us (and each other) with respect and consideration. We’ve always deserved that- but it matters now more than ever.

It breaks my heart that some people are abusive to health workers, biting the hand that heals them. It upsets me when successive governments use the NHS as a political football and sell off bits of it when we’re not looking, with people I know actually heaping praise on the very politicians whose ideology threatens to destroy the thing we’re clapping for every Thursday.

This groundswell of support for the people we rely on to properly live our lives has to be captured and nurtured after all this nonsense is over.

This is the second weekend of lockdown and, despite the brilliant memes and cheery social media posts, I think we’re all beginning to get sick of it. When will it all end? When will things get back to normal?

Depression is knocking on our door and we don’t want to let it in.

So many things – from operations and exploratory tests to family gatherings and holidays – have been put on hold.

On a lighter note, it’s my dog’s birthday today. Six years old and she still can’t read.

Happy birthday, Artemis.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x