Life
    Culture

    Word of the week: #claptheNHS

    24 April 2020

    Derivation

    A national round of applause that takes place for healthcare workers.

    Definition

    Once a week, we applaud the medical staff who treat patients with Covid-19. The paramedics, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, many of whom are risking their lives, receive a morale-boost. Outside some A&E departments ambulances sound their sirens in recognition.

    Mass daily clapping originated in parts of Italy and Spain when the emergency services became overwhelmed by pandemic victims. A helpless population, trapped in their homes, expressed appreciation and solidarity with those risking their lives.

    In Siena, Italy, locals gathered on balconies to sing a traditional Tuscan folk song, “Il Canto della Verbena (And While Siena Sleeps),” sung since the Middle Ages. British people have struggled desperately to find one song that everyone knows the words to. In Middlesbrough, a brave rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was met with a singular response of “shut the f**k up”. In Belper, Derbyshire they settled on a mass “moo”. Public singing failed to catch on.

    With over 1.2 million people working for the NHS, many families have found themselves applauding husbands, wives and siblings on their own doorstep. One woman, embarrassed by the personal applause for her husband who works in the local hospital, shouted to neighbours “he only works in accounts, you know!”. One nurse, overcome with emotion, ran down the street doing high fives until she noticed her neighbours rapidly retreating into their houses.

    In the week that Boris Johnson was nursed back to health, police and emergency services crowded together on Westminster bridge to applaud the staff at St. Thomas’s hospital. Unfortunately, on this occasion, none of the officers present were able to find their notebooks to issue fines for breaching the social distancing rules.

    Some people are clapping for carers, others are applauding the entire NHS and many are simply grateful to everyone who is working to keep things going during the crisis. With Thursdays reserved for NHS staff, it has been mooted that we could use the other days of the week to ring bells in a ‘dong for delivery men’; sound horns in a ‘sirens for sewage workers’; and sing for ‘shelf stackers’.

    The daily televised briefing has led many of us to sigh in despair, as journalists repeat the same inane questions. Perhaps, at 5pm each day, we could gather on the doorsteps of Britain to initiate a collective ‘tire of TV journalists’ yawn.

    Once the crisis passes, it would be nice for us to take to the street at 8pm every Thursday for a chat with the neighbours. At least it would remind us to put the bins out for the Friday collection.

    Use:

    “I don’t know why you’re clapping, the pubs aren’t going to be open before Christmas.”