So, it’s a wrap. Or at least, we think it is.
And as predicted, some bod – to whom the nation must surely be eternally grateful – has popped up to signal the end of the weekly clap. In fact, it’s the very person who had been credited with its initiation, so perhaps we’ll can the kudos for now.
But if all goes to plan, the supine masses can now deftly fall into line behind a legitimised voice and drop the sham without having to trouble themselves with any feelings of guilt.
We’ve had ten long weeks to see the facade of self-righteousness wash away to reveal the selfishness, the virtue-signalling, and in some cases the blatant hypocrisy of the happy-clappy cabal. We’ve witnessed neighbourhood espionage, bullying, and public shaming, and – for all the purported love and respect for NHS workers – lockdown has in some quarters become more honoured in the breach than in the observance. So, you could say (if you believed the coronahype) that we’ve been rewarding our Nightingales with not only a hearty clap but a steady customer pipeline. Arguably, the kind of Just-In-Time supply chain management that will see us through a hard Brexit in 2021?
That’s the downside with throwaway gestures – they open up a wider door to inconsistency and allegations of hypocrisy. Fakers get busted, or they expose themselves.
Painfully, and wholeheartedly consistent with our me-me-me, snowflake society, other workers have been questioning why they haven’t had their own clap. The delivery drivers, the shelf-stackers, the contact centre workers. Not to mention the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers – all virtue-mad fakers. You name them; every group wants a slice of the appeal pie. Most have had to be content with a facile frame for their Facebook profile picture in order to tell anybody who gives a toss that they’re a key worker. Well, have I got news for them: nobody does.
One escape hole for those who had long realised that the mask had slipped was to rail against the apparent politicisation of the jaunt. Now, nobody would doubt the veracity of that. But as an emerging excuse to take French leave from the thigh-slapping, well, that wasn’t going to fly with the savvy commentariat. Of course, politicians muscled in. They hijack any asset that they can turn, milk, and then discard. And imagine the nailed-on furore if they hadn’t joined the clapfest? The current shite minus 20 public approval rating would have re-anchored just south of the Corbyn steady needle.
So, now that the chief clap-chap has called time on the claptrap, hordes will take this all as the definitive green light for go, parachutes on, and bail out. For some weeks now, more than just a few had found it a gut-wrenching chore. Adversely critical commentary had been going like the clappers, so to speak. Totally mental. Even the legions of the dumb had cottoned on that bish-bashing a saucepan with a wooden spoon had felt, well, terminally tragic.
After week one, most were only ever applauding themselves anyway. But by then, they had already stumbled into the trap because it was always going to be peer-pressured position from which to retreat. And what claptrap the clap-trap trapped them into.
The principal reasons that the claplust fizzled out are nevertheless clear. It was an abject embarrassment from week one, and a critical mass of participants had finally started to come to its senses. It has been a testament to how discerning the populace is that it took them ten weeks to pull the plug. But be grateful for small mercies – they got there in the end.
Most tellingly, even the notion of a diarised clap was always doomed to overstretch itself. A clap is a simple show of applause. An expression of acknowledgement but not necessarily appreciation. At any event, some audience members will clap out of politeness or of conformity. In those cases, the ones who don’t clap will be making the strongest gesture.
Doomed as daft from the off.
Similar pennies have moreover been dropping for some time with the lockdown itself and continue to do so. And not merely with the public, who have started to tumble its irrational and suicidal essence. The Government has also whizzed through its threat alert scale with almost indecent haste in order to ease measures without so much as a pause to detail their case. This has led SAGE (The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) to assert that the relaxation of measures has come too soon.
Not so, says Boris and the gang, who maintain that they are still following science. It’s just not clear whose science. Certainly not that of their own advisers, who are, ahem, SAGE. Possibly that of Demonic Cummings, who knows? We might have anticipated that the sequence of events would be the rollout of the track-and-trace technology, followed by data analysis, followed by decisions. But that is, as we know only too well, not the way these cats roll. They’re cracking on regardless and hoping that the (manifestly flawed) app idea will spoof up the right corroborative data. If not, it will drift into the sunset like the 100,000 tests per day.
But back to the case for easing the lockdown. SPOILER ALERT: there isn’t one, apart from the prevention of economic catastrophe. Somebody’s just knifed the piggybank, and very little has slid out. The supporting narrative for the volte-face heralds a new era in post-fact politics: they likely won’t bother to explain themselves at all.
Let’s not be too hard on the clapperati though, because none of it touches the Liberal Democrat Ramadan charade. That was peak vote-whoring, matched only by weapons-grade deficits in self-awareness.
The real harm for us in all this is the consolidation of herd immunity to evidence, even in an existential crisis. The passage of the clap illustrated the ease at which the public could lose its grip. It could allow itself to be sucked into facile absurdity without a whimper, even with gay abandon. We likewise surrendered ourselves into lockdown, and we’re awakening to the folly of that strategy as we finally did to the clap.
Clapping while the UK burned. We’re Nero to disaster than we think. No wonder the Government feels that it can act without accountability.
The next handclap we organise should be a slow one.