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

International Nurses Day

It was meant to be a really big celebration this year.

International Nurses Day is held to mark mark the contributions nurses make to society. And in 2020 it coincides with the the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the 200th year of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Picture: Wikipedia

Nightingale came to prominence after arriving at the Crimean War in 1854 to manage and train nurses in caring for wounded soldiers. Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society.

My second sister was a nurse and midwife. She was the kindest, the most caring and the best of her four siblings, a statement with which they would all readily agree. She worked as a carer all her life, at home and abroad, before she died suddenly four years ago at the age of 67.

She would help anyone, was always for the underdog and thought the best of everyone, sometimes infuriatingly so. Her kindness was a shining beacon to me growing up.

Nurses are special people.

This year, International Nurses Day falls on a moment in history when we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Our nurses and carers are at the forefront of a global pandemic. They are risking their lives as the nation’s foot soldiers, fighting an invisible enemy with a woeful lack of personal protection equipment.

Nursing staff don’t want to be thought of as heroes in this crisis. They say they are just doing their jobs. But they have true dedication and commitment many of us lack. We continue to say thank you – but the Thursday Clap for Carers won’t mean a thing if we don’t carry it forward into something positive for the NHS.

Today at one o’clock, I played three songs for The Sound of Music Through The Square Window to mark International Nurses Day. We had Bobby Darin’s version of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and The Rembrandt’s I’ll Be There For You, which will be forever known as the theme tune to the television programme Friends.

So on this day in 2020, and on the Thursday Clap for Carers, we salute our nurses, without whom many of us would not exist. And in future, we need to ensure that these vital front line workers are given the support, pay and respect they deserve from our politicians, along with the NHS, which was one of the major social reforms following the Second World War.

When all this is over, it would be fitting if, as a lasting legacy of the coronavirus catastrophe, we could recommit that support to our NHS and all who work within it.

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

Let’s see what the Earth has to say

It’s raining heavily as I write this.

And even though I’ve come in from the daily dogwalk absolutely soaked – as have the dogs – I don’t mind. We’ve had some glorious, unseasonal weather in this lockdown which has made it so much easier to bear.

And besides, the garden needs it.

I’m halfway through treating the garden table and chairs with Danish oil. It’s my project of the week. If I get it finished by end of play on Sunday, I can tick it off my list, along with the jobs I’ve already done, including painting four garden chairs and table with Hammerite and upcycling the coffee table.

Three more weeks of lockdown were announced yesterday so I’m going to need to find other constructive things to do. The devil makes work for idle hands.

So far, the dining table is lined up in my sights for the upcycling treatment, as is the dresser in my Shed of Dreams if the three weeks turn into something longer, which wouldn’t be at all surprising.

The Sound of Music Through The Square Window is still happening here in Lush Places every day at one o’clock, with requested songs played on my laptop through a speaker in the spare bedroom window.

People come out from their doors and poke their heads out of their windows when they hear Julie Andrews singing her little heart out, followed by the tune for the day. Yesterday was Bill Withers’ Lean On Me for Spanish John, who is called that not because he’s Spanish but because he lived there once.

It’s likely that more of the village will soon be able to hear their requests because once it stops raining I’m going to pick up a couple of speakers and a mixer from professional musician Ding Dong Daddy. So put that in your window and play it.

If the music’s too loud, you’re too old.

Age hasn’t stopped 99-year-old war veteran Captain Tom Moore from raising more than £18 million for the NHS by completing one hundred laps of his garden before his 100th birthday.

He only set out to raise £1,000. What an absolute hero. It shows how one person can truly make a difference.

It’s heartening in a situation where some dismiss as dispensable many of those who have died from coronavirus because of their age or underlying conditions.

It gives me faith in humanity that so many of us are saluting this old man for such an outstanding achievement.

In other news, my friend and former NHS colleague Emma Gale has been inspired by the lockdown to release her very first single today, which you can buy if you follow the video link.

It’s lovely.

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

Thank you for being a friend

All around the country, people came out of their houses at eight o’clock last night to stand on their doorsteps and open their windows to clap for the NHS.

It was a massive show of appreciation for people on the front line in the fight against coronavirus.

Here in Lush Places, we all joined in, little pockets of applause, with cheering, banging of saucepan lids and Andrew Gold singing Thank You For Being A Friend.

Shortly afterwards, we joined in a record-breaking virtual pub quiz via Facebook. At one time, there were 91,000 other people online doing the same. We even saw Mrs Read’s name pop up as one of the participants.

Friendship and community connections are even more important now we can’t be physically close. We’re all in this together.

The village shop continues its sterling work, with manager Mr Costner and volunteers really stepping up to the mark, although at six feet distances apart.

They’ve even started a ‘guess the customer’ competition, photographing whoever is standing on the big red cross next to the drinks cabinet, cropping the picture so it’s from the chest down and then putting it on the shop’s Facebook page. Yesterday it was Joe Le Taxi in wellies, fresh from taking his dog, Badger, around the fields for his one exercise of the day.

Yesterday also saw the launch of the Lush Places One O’Clock Singalong courtesy of a loudspeaker (although not loud enough) on the windowsill of our spare bedroom.

Each day, I’ll be playing requests to follow our theme tune of The Sound of Music.

There were just a few of us for the first session (as it should be as we’re all social distancing). Across the way, I could see Mrs Bancroft doing her best Julie Andrews impression, while Mata Hari stood behind her car and belted out the chorus to My Favourite Things.

From the bedroom, I could see two hands pressed against the glass of the pub window, alternately waving and doing enthusiastic thumbs-up. It was DJ Landlord and Mrs Plum, so we send them virtual kisses across the Square.

The idea is that at the end of all this nonsense, we’ll have a lockdown playlist we can use for the celebration party. It’s going to be epic.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x