The Ten Weeks of ‘Clap for our Carers’ In Britain

Here is my experience, in Wales, of the ‘Clap for our Carers‘ event, also known as Clap for Carers, Clap for the NHS or Clap for Key Workers, which ran through early 2020 during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic lock down.

WEEK 1

[26/03/2020] It is the first 8 o’clock clapping event to show our appreciation to the NHS staff. If the wind blows the wrong way and carries water droplets… boom – more infections… but it seems like everyone will be doing it for an excuse to step out of the house. Will the NHS staff (and others this is done for) hear the clapping from miles away? I doubt it. It’s about ‘community spirit’ more than that really it seems.

The media treat it like an afterthought when not patronising the workers they’ve corralled to appear as window dressing to their reports. Virtue signalling seems the real intent behind this all rather than any practical support or supporting the rules established regarding social distancing… although it is bizarrely surreal and comical to see reporters holding boom microphones like pole arms while interrogating people to report their experiences.

It’ll be one of those ‘everyone did it’ events historians recall about this period in years to come. So you better do it or else your neighbours will judge you (or, at the very least, there is some weird media driven social pressure to take part)! The BBC’s ‘The One Show’ is endorsing it now. Go to your door, balcony, etc and clap for them to show your appreciation they insist. Just like they did in Italy and Germany. If they can do it so can we! There’s a strangely competitive aspect to the whole thing beneath the façade of community spirit.

20:12 There was some BBC coverage of ‘the clappening’ as I coined it (no doubt others have also done so independently though I’ve not heard the term being used). Various NHS staff were shown but also those currently on military service for some reason appear. I don’t know about you but nothing quite says ‘well done NHS’ like a big fuck off tank being shown full screen… ‘Oh yeah, you’re doing the 8 o’clock clapping to show our appreciation to the NHS staff, etc? Yeah, we are doing that too but, while we’ve got your attention, look at our military power too while you’re at it’.

There was no initial suggestion this would be a weekly thing at this point unless you went to the website.

Week 2

[19:58, 02/04/2020] I forgot about the ‘clapping to thank carers’ was happening again this evening at 8PM.

The news and media, in general, were not mentioning it this week so either it was a given it was happening or maybe not. Who knows? Probably people hesitantly checked at the time and joined others if they saw them doing it outside their front door.

It occurred obviously. There were one or two less this time on their doorsteps. Some blinds fluttered as people across the road checked who was out doing it. It seems those either side of us were not doing it and thus those across the road decided they wouldn’t either. The house where the old woman used to live, decades ago, has young people in it now who came to their doorstep to clap.

WEEK 3

[09/04/2020] Besides Britain I know Italy was doing a similar thing (and playing music) on their balconies and Germany was doing something similar. There was no clapping in St Petersburg but there was in Yekaterinburg I was told regarding Russia. Ringing the church bells would be nice as an alternative plus in the lead up to the Eastern Orthodox Easter on the 19th. It would reassure those concerned about celebrating Easter in some way.

Here in the UK apparently the third ‘Clap for our Carers’ event was going to happen tonight. It was obviously a given to many depending on what media you consumed as they would notify you throughout the day ad nauseum. Remember you better do your bit or else people will judge you.

Regarding the clapping there seemed less enthusiasm this time. The first I heard of it on the day was the 6 o’clock news personally although the news later on in the evening showed clips of people around the nation, in the armed forces and NHS staff (stood on the forecourts of hospitals they’ve been working in for hours only to be rounded up to perform for the cameras) doing it. It is all a bit ‘propaganda’ in tone when you take a step back and consider it. Could the overstretched hospitals really afford to have twenty or more staff go outside for ten minutes for a media event? You would think in these times they would need all hands on deck constantly.

I participated in the clapping. I saw a guy, across the road, literally stick his hands out the door, while in his t shirt and shorts with disheveled hair, clap for about 10 seconds then going back inside. I could hear, but not see, people further up the street clapping.

WEEK 4

[16/04/2020] The clapping: this week more people were out and someone, a street or two away, shot off fireworks. Pots and pans began to be banged together this week by the people up the road.

Yet again more people, on average, seemed to have stopped doing it around here (this week had a mild resurgence in participants which didn’t last) but those who did continued participating seemed to be trying to over compensate for others’ apathy.

WEEK 5

[23/04/2020] BBC’s The Big Night In (a collaboration between the Children In Need and Comic Relief fund raisers) had a filmed skit based on Black Adder featuring Stephen Fry and Prince William:

Melchett (Stephen Fry) and the Prince (Prince William, Duke of Cambridge)

Stephen Fry reprised his role of Melchett ,who he had played multiple generations of in the Blackadder series, to chat with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. This skit actually led into the weekly clapping ‘ritual’ (as The Guardian newspaper refers to it) on the night as a countdown so I didn’t see anything, on the night, in the above video after the two minute mark when he began counting down to 8 o’clock. That was an amusing thing to happen for the special evening of entertainment charity drive. There were some nice sketches during the event which are available to see on YouTube.

We had a few clangings of pots and pans again but no one I could see. In fact, at one point, one guy walked out of one house with a bottle of beer and went in another house. He clapped on his way amusingly. Again it depends where and who you’re doing it with I guess as to how many people seem to be participating in the clapping.

WEEK 6

[30/04/2020] Clap. Clap. Clap. It’s week… five or six? I’ve lost count. It was week six. I’ll leave in my confusion over the next few weeks’ entries as it is what I noted on each occasion due to one week flowing into the next over the period.


The cat goes in the window to see what is going on. The houses across the street don’t come out. I saw one woman come out of her house to join the clapping after about a minute, into the two minute long clapping, this week. Each clapping session lasted at most two minutes I think with everyone waiting for someone else to stop first. The same pots and pans were being banged together.

This week they televised other places clapping. Not just hospitals but also residential streets. Would the people have been out in such force without the cameras there? We can only speculate. All bright young things. Middle class families with 2.4 children with perfect hair and perfect teeth.


Also during this time a ninety nine year old World War II veteran, Captain Thomas Moore, was doing laps of his garden to get donations for charity thus becoming somewhat of a celebrity for a short time.

He was in the news constantly serving as a distraction from the events and as a symbol of the ‘resilient British spirit’ I suppose. ‘Stiff upper lip‘ and all that.

Kakebyleanneharry made a cake in the shape of his head. Those always have that element of unintentionally saying ‘look – I’m stabbing and eating this person like a murderous cannibal’ in the photographs when they are served I imagine. ‘Here’s a cake celebrating you… here’s us cutting into the cake and eating ”you” too… you should feel honoured we are devouring a representation of your flesh’. I wonder how many ‘Christ-like’ jokes have been made regarding these confections? It’s all a bit surreal…

On the last few laps of his garden he had an honour guard and there was a fly over by an air squadron past his house. He was made a colonel eventually. The country felt a little bit better about itself and he received enough birthday cards to fill a town hall on his hundredth birthday.

WEEK 7

[07/05/2020] The sixth week of ‘clapping for carers’… No, apparently it was the seventh… I don’t know what the media coverage was of it as I was watching National Theatre Live’s broadcast of Shakespeare’s Anthony & Cleopatra. (It was good if a little bloated feeling. They had a live snake on stage in one of the final scenes when Cleopatra and her assistants die!)


This time, during the clapping in my street, a girl in pyjamas and a nightgown was clapping at her garden gate and was joined by her, I assume, sister after a minute. The people up the road were not clanging their pots and pans as much but had their Union Jack bunting out already for V.E. Day tomorrow. Oh and a woman, so fat she was spherical, like in a cartoon, was chasing her black dog, walking slowly after it calling the dog’s name, down the road as it ran about sniffing everything having escaped the house.

[08/05/2020] V.E. Day: Street parties with people in their gardens etc. Apparently there was meant to be some ‘coming out the house and singing’ event to celebrate it but it didn’t seem to happen here unlike the clapping.

However on the BBC you could watch entire streets doing it and dancing besides their small garden tables they had outside their front door. However these communities seemed to mostly be in picturesque English villages projecting a certain image to the rest of the world rather than anything else. I’m not saying they were organised especially for the media but it all seemed a bit too convenient. Everyone in a street dressed in vintage clothing with one guy able to play the accordion, everyone knowing the lyrics to songs of the era and having all the other things you might expect at a historical recreation event. Except it’s owned by all the residents in a single street during a societal lock down where you would be unable to buy such supplies. Maybe they ordered them online and had them delivered? Amazon rules western society right now…

WEEK 8

[14/05/2020] The seventh week of ‘Clap for Carers’. No apparently it was the eighth… I really lost track of the weeks.


People living nearer me did the banging of pots and pans this time. However the ones up the street didn’t seem to be doing it this week surprisingly – or maybe they were being drowned out. Across the road someone in a white bath robe came out to clap at the end of her pathway. Directly across the road, slightly obscured by a white van, was a young woman in a pink t shirt whose hair seemed to have been completed plaited out of boredom. She clapped looking down into her garden while facing her house. Maybe she had a dog or little children I couldn’t see. There were even less people this week taking part.

WEEK 9

[21/05/2020] Clapping for Carers: week… eight? No, it was actually week nine.


This time one guy across the road leaned out his door to clap for a minute. I heard one, maybe two, people up the road banging pots and pans halfheartedly. That was it.

Suddenly, the last week or so, people have got a bad attitude here it seems. Maybe everyone is fed up. The novelty of it all has worn off. The media is slowly showing signs of being fed up of keeping a façade of positivity and endorsement.

On the TV you see NHS workers, spaced out as part of ‘social distancing’ obviously, continuing to clap minutes after the two minute average as the journalists revel in it. It’s more for show than anything. It still seems questionable to have carers take part in the clapping when the clapping is intended for them. But it’s all for the aesthetic. It’s like that song says ‘the sun always shines on TV’…

WEEK 10

[27/05/2020] Apparently Annemarie Plas, the creator of ‘Clap for our Carers’, would like it to end with the tenth week. I think most people gave up after the first week or so anyway…

The final ‘Clap for our Carers’. Maybe for now… maybe forever. The media was really sour about it this morning with them all acting like it was beneath them and just a government trick to keep people compliant due to Dominic Cummings actions and the Westminster governments efforts to explain or justify them which feels like they’ve all been blown out of proportions for the sake of something to discuss. At one point they even tried to drag accusations against the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, into it as a parallel though it didn’t stick.

The media is bored now of giving an unequivocal supportive tone to proceedings. Now, just as they have in the past, they turn sharply to intense criticism and judgemental, languorous, condemnation because so few developments have occurred to satisfy the ever hungering beast of twenty four hour news coverage. The government statements and their coverage all sound like: they’re repeating yesterday’s announcements to which only yesterday’s questions can be asked and yesterday’s vague answers can be offered. Something is happening but it’s negligible because only 24 hours have passed so it’s hardly worth acknowledging.

‘But why isn’t more being done?’ demands the journalist like a spoilt child via a ZOOM conference call scratching themselves out of frustration. ‘Something is being done’ answers the indolent government adviser, stood at the podium, who has nothing new to say while slowly hoping they can leave the room soon. No one is satisfied with how it’s gone so far but everyone has answers on how it should be done.

‘Are we there yet?’ the journalists ask from the back seat. ‘Almost, just a little while longer’ the government mutters, through gritted teeth, slowly putting their foot down on the accelerator to get out of this situation sooner to shut them up.

Journalism has turned into an industry where they watch paint dry and complain it isn’t more exciting. Unlike ‘the good old days’ when you might asphyxiate on the fumes of the lead paint or choke on the coal dust lining your lungs from the fireplace or even die of liver disease from one too many wet lunches. Back when journalism was ‘real’… or at least that’s what the old timers, who’ve retired and love recounting their exploits, tell them while pretending things were all sanitary back then and no one ever got their hands dirty for the sake of ‘a good story’.

No doubt, in a few years time, we will see multiple autobiographical books being published by journalists who go on to give talks and book signings at literature festivals. Books detailing their struggles, their vigilance, their nobility of spirit, all very inspirational… oh and that ever so funny thing that happened to the person they don’t respect but have to call a friend in case they ever have a use for them. You know the one. Yes, them. The one with the funny thing and their terrible, completely bonkers, manner. Hilarious honestly. Where do they get it from? Amazeballs. You had to be there. But you weren’t. Because you’re not important enough. Even if you were there you definitely were not ‘present in the moment’ like they were. Even if there’s a recording of the moment contradicting what they wrote it’s a complete lie unlike how they recall it. Their story is much better anyway. Now buy the bloody book and piss off because we all know no one actually reads these things – they just go on a shelf so you can look informed and on the ‘right side’ when it comes to discussing things.

[28/05/2020] The Clappening a.k.a. Clap for Carers: Chapter 10: The Finale (?)
Some people, three at most, were clapping further up the road. I saw Venetian blinds across the road flutter. The cat was in the window watching us. The clapping continued for two minutes then ended.

I took the rubbish (garden waste, glass, black bags and food waste) out afterwards from the back to the front garden. Out the back I could hear some pots and pans in the distance clanging together. Also this song was playing in the distance:

What have you done today? Whatever it is it’s time to feel existential dread.

It was as if it was intended to mock people. But was it aimed at those who clapped or those didn’t? I’ve not heard any songs playing loudly in the area in years. Someone used to play Seal’s ‘A Kiss From A Rose’ every Sunday morning. I always suspected they were covering the sounds of their love making because it was odd to always have that one song at the same time every week… but maybe they were exercising or something. Who knows?


On the final day the media were basically doing the adult equivalent of acting like the self declared cool kids in school. We have all known them. The fashionable followers of trends. The ones who brought something to people’s attention and, initially, were front and centre making sure everyone saw them ‘doing their bit’ endorsing it beforehand but then one day, out of the blue, repudiated it entirely declaring ‘yeah, I was never into it because I saw through it all along’ though, only a week before, they were calling out others for not participating in the endorsement.

I tend to get the impression journalists were the nasty, but respected, people in their classrooms. Ever ready to change their opinion if it suits their needs to one up others or when they perceive a shift in the attitudes of the majority which might cause them to lose influence.

In a while they’ll chortle derisively on various programmes ‘what was that all about ?’ like people looking at photos of the fashion they wore in previous decades which is completely alien to modern trends… until that style comes back into fashion. Just like there’s always a plague, or some such, in the ’20s of the past few centuries. Time is a flat circle.

MEANWHILE…

There were many events and attitudes expressed during the period but you can find those documented elsewhere. Here are one or two representing the sort I came across.

Imagine if it turns out she was right…

Conspiracy theorists: So ardent about it too! But apparently that’s how the media began to speak about it once they wanted to demonise Dominic Cummings and the current UK (Conservative) government despite their efforts.

The Welsh government took a more strict view to enforcing lock down compared to England – which people coming into Wales seemed to have a hard time understanding. Many assumed that the rules announced by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, applied to all of Britain not just England even though he stated explicitly they were for England only. That’s an unfortunate attitude people have: they assume Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales follow England’s lead even though many areas of legislation and such have been devolved to their respective governments for quite a while now.

For a shorthand explanation of the underlying attitude to why people clapped every week, though they would never admit it, look at this humorous video:

How it felt to be clapping…

Keeping up with the Joneses. That’s why people really clap as they think their neighbours will judge them. This video was played on one of the breakfast shows; either BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain or The Jeremy Vine Show; on the final morning as if they themselves were not the people doing exactly this sort of judgemental thing every other week lecturing people on ‘virtue in the times of COVID-19’.

Of course there were other amusing things which occurred during this time such as the Great Orme Kashmiri goats who invaded the deserted streets of Llandudno.

They apparently come down more often than the town likes to admit

The next ‘Clap for our Carers’ is on 25th March 2021. I wonder how many people will take part then… if indeed it even happens.

What were your experiences over this period? Did other countries do a similar ritual weekly? Maybe your country did something different?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Bridgend’s Religious Underpass Graffiti

On a short walk I discovered some graffiti on the walls of an underpass beneath a very busy bypass road.

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Free hugs you say? I was expecting an ambush… Instead I found bible quotes…

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Standard fare so far. A little cartoon devil and a sort of beat boy looking caricature tag.

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The Eye of Providence… Quite a common image to see in areas of graffiti. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Providence

Then I was caught off guard by some graffiti biblical quotes which served no other purpose than propaganda in what is ultimately a very isolated area.

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Romans 5:21

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Romans 10:9
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Next to the two bible quotes was another bit of graffiti reading: ‘Read the King James Bible – And No Other’ the last part of which was underlined.

Apparently I had found the secret meeting place of radicalised Anglican Protestant Christians in the town. Perhaps I have stumbled upon some mystery which will lead to globe trotting adventures?

Happiness Week: Saturday

My cat was very playful. He still has no name. He now has a bald spot on his neck.

My skin is healing.

Watched a ‘let’s play’ through of ‘Life Is Strange’ published by Square Enix (with a very sad reference to their film ‘The Spirits Within’ not being a bad film but a cult classic as if they still cannot let go of how much of a major let down it was both financially and critically for them even all these years later…). It is a game in a similar adventure vein to those of TellTale Games escept you are able to see both outcomes of a decision by rewinding time immediately to see how the other outcome will come across. This actually limits its replay value ultimately as you will just choose ‘the best outcome’ in your first playthrough and not replay the rest of the game to reach these points again. You play as a college girl who has returned to her home town aftera number of years away who discovers she has the ability to rewind time with which she must solve, with the aid of her rebellious childhood friend, a missing person’s case and protect the town from a severe storm arriving in 4 days. It is episodic and only the first episode, ‘Chrysalis’, has been released so far. It has some real promise although the first episode has a number of generic elements (hopefully to be subverted in later episodes) but despite all the side activities you can do it doesn’t have the polish of TellTale Games’ recent releases so far.

I watched ‘The Wind Rises’ / 風立ちぬ / Kaze Tachinu on FilmFour. It is a Studio Ghibli film so it goes without saying it is fantastically high quality. However I understand why, on principle, many political groups took umbrage with a romanticised depiction of the life of the engineer who designed the Mitsubshi A6M Zero plane the Japanese used in World War II. However it is actually more correct to say the film is based on a short story by Tatsuo Hori, with parts of the story Hori based on Jiro Horikoshi with aspects of his own personality (for example the fictional account of Horikoshi’s wife suffering tuberculosis which Hori’s wife actually did suffer from and his chain smoking when Horikoshi was a lifelong non-smoker) amalgamated into a single character as the fictional Horikoshi’s of the film. An excellent film tinged with an awkwardness as you can’t escape that in realising his dream the character ultimately saw his realised dream used for war. The film tries to address this with his dreams where Giovanni Battista Caproni addresses him as a spirit guide but it falls flat due to the real world implications and for once sadly cannot be chalked up as simply ‘cultural differences’ as is the excuse often used when certain aspects of films are viewed unfavourably in different markets worldwide.

‘Forest of Drizzling Rain’ – Another ‘let’s play’ through but of an RPGmaker horror game. It was okay and had an interesting concept but ultimately the story was not well implemented and so failed on it’s potential with some very weak endings and not enough character development.

‘Prinny, Can I Be The Hero?’ – Yet another Let’s Play I watched. An action platforming PS Vita game spin of the Disgaea strategy RPG series. I still have very fond memories of playing the Playstation 2 games in the series but as I never got a PS3 or PS Vita I never kept up with the later entries. The humour is still there but this spin off seems far lighter fare gameplay wise compared to the main series. It looks fun but also quite short if you are not into purchasing download extras.

The Voice – A 16 year old mother from Bridgend. Her mother is in a Wheelchair ticking the sad background that these sort of talent shoes feel the need to shoehorn into their constructed narratives as part of an ‘overcoming adversity’ storyline. It demeans the individuals concerned and makes them figures to be pitied instead of respected in publicising their circumstances and makes it harder for an audience member to be unbiased in their assessment of the performer’s talent. Unfortunately their accents made them sound far duller than… it made them sound dull. And so Bridgend is not only the ‘suicide ring’ town of South Wales but also of tattooed underage mothers. Tidy…

National Lottery game show – I forgot what the name of it was but there was a Welsh couple on it. The guy reminded me of someone I know. They seemed really affectionate and to get on well unlike some of the more nervous couples in previous weeks. It was nice to see though it was clear the wife was the one who wore the trousers in the relationship as she was quite ‘don’t be so self-deprecating’. Also one of the things they were trying to win were proper wedding rings as theirs were from Swansea market. There’s nothing wrong with that just… you just know someone is judging them for it somewhere and thinking the Welsh, as a nation, are poor… which is sadly true as we are paid less for the equivalent work when it is done in England.

Nice relaxing day.


HAPPINESS WEEK IS OVER!

Normal services will resume in due course… or maybe I will do a ‘Misery Week’ which would be cathartic. Or ‘Absurdism Week’ which would be fun. Or maybe I will just leave it a few days and resume the usual update every few days. Maybe even lower it to once a week. Let us see…

Did people enjoy reading this? It seemed to be just the same few points being reiterated time and time again each day over the week.

I uploaded this with mere seconds left before Sunday began. I almost forgot to post it at all. An achievement in time management which I was quite happy with.

Happiness Week: Sunday

I got a new cat from Cats Protection! He was a stray and had been there 3 weeks.

They named him Totoro as he is grey and white. He must have reminded someone of the titular character of the famous Studio Ghibli Film. We have tried to think of a name for him but do not know what to call him. He has a patch fur that is much shorter on his right front leg as they had to shave it to give him an intravenous drip.

At the centre we arrived early but the receptionist let us in. There were boys told not to laugh or be noisy. I think only one of them was getting a cat and the other was his friend. They got goodie bags containing balloons and cat masks. Someone came in looking for kittens but they didn’t have any that were ready to leave their mother yet so the woman left empty handed.

We filled out the paperwork and brought him home. I picked up a lot of leaflets about cat care. I also got a car sticker. The staff at the centre think he was ‘the handsome one’.

They gave us a free pocket sized torch toy that projects the image of a mouse on the ground. He liked it. They also gave us 4 weeks free pet insurance and a discount card for the type of food they approve of called Purina.

When we put him in the spare room and opened his carry case he explored under the wardrobe but there is very little headroom under it so he laid flat with his legs out to the side so he could slip under it. He came out a few moments later.
He eats dry food. He drinks water.

He pulled up the carpet in the spare room when we had to leave him alone to get him food and other things. He was sat up on the desk looking at me open the door.

He has gone around in circles time and time again around the house. Often he is following us or playing a chasing game because we are keeping an eye on him. He is often twitching his tail back and forth. Maybe he is like Dr Banner in The Avengers where he is always angry… he doesn’t like shut doors. He runs over to them when they are shut and tries to get to the otherside.

We were given a sample of a spray to put on things to stop him spraying his scent on them. It works.
He is very playful. My relative bought him a ‘fishing’ trype toy with a small dead duck on the end filled with catnip. He really liked it.

When the others had to leave and I was left to hold him while they left I put him down after they left and he waited and then attacked my arm. He did not have his claws out and meowed at me.

He is very hungry. He is very high strung because of all the new noises. He doesn’t like the sound of the toilet water system after the toilet has been flushed. He waits outside the doors waiting for you.

Though I blocked access to my room, with a laundry basket, he still went in there and tried to go under the bed but I had blocked it with all the cases of books I have. I like to read. I have many books. He does not understand the concept of a door opening as I would swing it back and forth and he would try to scratch under it.

He has a high pitched meow. He runs up and down the stairs. He likes to sit at the top of the stairs. He likes to lie down in the centre of the kitchen and in the centre of the living room. He goes up on the chairs. He likes to explore. While exploring behind the television and furniture he got a lot of cobwebs all over his whiskers. He doesn’t like sudden sounds. He likes to be stroked a lot. He will insist on it. He is a big boy. He is very tall when he stands on his hind legs. He often has looked over things to see what is on top of them.


If you did not read this in anything other than the voice of a five year old this was less that an absolute sucess. So…This week, every day, there will be happy cheery updates because… Happy Happy Joy Joy! Happy Happy Joy Joy! Happy Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy! Once when I was jobseeking a member of a recruitment agency insisted I smile. She waited 5 minutes for me to do it. It was an abuse of power but isn’t it wonderful that she cared enough that she forced someone down on their luck to conform to her perception of reality rather than acknowledge the difference in our current situations. I’m sure she went and found someone in a wheelchair and told themm to dance. Just the kind of ‘kick up the backside’ kind of mentality the unemployed need. Recruitment Agencies are not my favourite industry. (See even that was phrased in a less than negative way because it suggests there are industires i dislike more like… war profiteering). Tomorrow more HAPPINESS!!!

A Visit to the Cat’s Adoption Home

I went to the Cat’s Protection rehoming centre recently.

It is a good charity and very well run with a welcoming, unpressured, enviroment for visitors.

It is a single floor brick building which seems to have been purpose built for housing the charity and cattery.

You walk in and on the left behind the door there are a few trinkets, card, toys and snacks for cats sold in aid of the charity. On the right is the reception desk and the offices for doing the paperwork. A few metres on the left is a blue door with two windows of safety glass and a thick yellow vertical bar leading to the cats for rehoming.

There are two corridors through this door. The second runs off to the right at the end of the first one and has a similar door to bar the cats escaping should they somehow find a way to escape their cell.

Each corridor has about 8 ‘cells’ in which cats are kept and a venilation system silently keeping air flowing and the temperature constant. Paper work is hung above each one with a photo and a short first person written account of the cat to entice the reader into selection. Some have paperwork taped to the window detailing the observations by the staff about the cat’s mood, eating habits and any other issues. Some even have ‘good girl/boy’ written on them if they are doing better. A few, the most needy, have rosettes attached to their windows with titles like ‘lonely heart’, ‘little star’, ‘overlooked’, ‘golden oldie’ (for those over 9 years old it seemed) and on one something akin to ‘a pair is best’. The last one admittedly had been placed on the window of a daughter separated from her mother. The first day I was told they could go separately though they had come in together but then the second day this was on the window for the daughter so perhaps it was a rogue agent…

Above each cell are a folded piece of A4 with a photo and a brief ‘personal account’ of the cat written in the first person. Many came in because of new babies in their families, some had been here before but their owners got too old to care for them, the one I selected had been wandering the streets. In an odd way you could tell which staff member had written which account as certain ones were long and ended with ‘with purrs and kisses xxx’ while others were very matter of fact being only three or so lines.

Of course there are larger catteries elsewhere on the site but these display cells are where they put the cats ready to be rehomed.

Each cell has full length double window doors secured with a rotatable stop tab at the top to bar the windows from opening. It seems a bit old fashioned but it works. The cat that constantly battered the window couldn’t open its door even with the tab out of place so perhaps it is only a secondary security lock. The first cell on the left in the second corridor on both occasions had two cats sat inside it. On the first day they looked very sad and no doubt uncomfortable sharing such an intimate space together. On the second day they were very alert. I do not think the two cats came in together but perhaps they had become very lonely isolated by themselves and so this was pairing up worked.

In the cells are the following: a blue plastic bowl filled with dry cat food, a blanket to lay on, one of those climbing things to sit on top of or hide beneath. Each has a litter tray filled either with grey clay litter or wood pellets. I do not know why there is this differentiation.

At the rear of each cell is a cat door leading to a wooden shed like extensionm running the length of the building, for them to rest away from visitors. Most sit in the cell where it is warmer this time of year though.

The corridor is sterile. At the corner is a number of printed off A4 scaled photos of the staff and others in fancy dress costumes from promotional events. On the corner is the room in which they wash the cat’s litter
The staff move around with blue plastic bags on their shoes and latex gloves to handle the cats. Blue polo shirts and cotton jumpers are worn. Usually they wear blue jeans and trainers but that is just a casual thing.

The first visit is during the afternoon on the weekend. The ‘busy’ period. There are a number of people there in their small groups crowded around each of the cells. Some cats act out due to the commotion. Some sleep. The staff passed back and forth some helping visitors and taking cats out to be handled while others just need to get from one side of the building to the other.

You don’t hear the cats cry. Most have become institutionalised. They know it’s not going to work if they cry out. It reminds me of the Children’s charity adverts on television tell the viewer that children don’t cry out because they have learnt no one will come. There it is abuse. Here it is a matter of conserving energy. The ones that have been here before know the score. If they are not sleeping then they tap at the window gently, make full intense eye contact, the works. They are Puss In Boots from Shrek incarnate.

A small girl taps on the glass of one cat and reminds me of Verruca Salt from the Roald Dahl story. ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy I want this one’. ‘Don’t open that door dear’. She doesn’t stop the girl. She just lets her keep going. Every generation says the younger ones are spoilt and ‘don’t know they are born’. No its more a case of certain families do not instil in their children the etiquette of proper decorum in public and private life. These children then go on to be successful as they are not as restrained in their conduct and take the chances others don’t. Or they make sure to make others be aware of how discontented they are with their lives without doing anything about it. In any case spoilt rotten.

We did not select a cat the first time. It seemed inappropriate to just drop in and expect to do so. We returned the next day and having checked the website discovered that some I had viewed previously had been reserved.

The second day it is mid-morning and the staff are busy behind closed doors though occasionally they move through the corridor. One cat that had already been reserved on my second visit began to bang its paws against the glass. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. On and on it goes and no one turns up to stop it. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. It’s propped upon its hind legs slamming its paw pads on the glass as hard as it can. Bang bang. Bang bang. Bang bang. One cat across the way looks at it. But what can be done? They’re in for the long stretch and this one’s not seen The Shawshank Redemption.

A pair of old women come in. They look for what seems to be only minutes. A staff member appears out of nowhere and is helping them. We were here for over 45 minutes and besides stepping around us we were not acknowledged while looking. ‘For which one of you is it?’ ‘Me it’ll be coming home with.’ 10 minutes later a member of staff finally comes to us as we are by the door and about to leave. Maybe they left us alone as we were pacing back and forth discussing the matter previously. We couldn’t handle the cat due to health issues. We didn’t reserve it until later once home though we were asked if we wanted to do so there and then.

There had been 3 I liked but in the end I just took the one that on the day made the best impression. That impression been formed by three things:

1) Not remaining asleep during the hour and a half we have walked those two corridors repeatedly.
2) Making a noise so I knew what it sounded like.
3) Being observant but neither overly active nor lethargic.

Also full circular eyes while attractive are not something I am used to in animals or humans (well obviously in humans but you know what I mean – ‘wide eyed’). A look of quiet distane, hooded, half open eyes is default for me and often it will appeal to me more than the desperate, wanton attention, fully open eyes demand with their suggestion of bewilderment in the face of stimuli as if to say ‘look see through these windows and find my soul beared to thee’. LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME! They demand without first earning affection.

The cats all seem very sedate and for the most part content. The new comers are, of course, very timid and wide eyed. One I saw was sat ‘hiding’ on top of its toy bunker with its golden eyes peeping over the edge of the bedding. Another would peer through the cat flap only once making an appearance. Most on the second day were sound asleep. At one point one cat had to be moved to another cell and as expected hissed and screamed at being handled. This cat however was stated to be feisty so it is the exception not the rule.

The cat home seems to be very well run. The staff are well informed, friendly and sincere. Although the staff were very busy the second time we visited I assume it was just the time of each day when they have to all be attending to behind the scenes work and cannot afford to spare anyone ‘front of house’. Certainly when speaking about the cats they seem truly enthusiastic and at least one is a dedicated cat owner himself.

When we reserved the cat they took our contact details and were back to us asking the relevant questions and arranging pick up, etc., the next day after the cat had been seen by the veterinarian (who goes there every Tuesday). They ask the questions to ensure the home is suitable for the cat and if need be would arrange a home visit. In our case apparently this was not necessary. They do ask for £50 per cat adopted but this is in fact very cheap as the cats, depending on how long they have been there, either have their first injections or the full course so you are in fact saving money in such a case. You are also asked if you would consider a further donation on top of this which I think is fair.

The information provided above each cat is concise and clear with separate colour coded symbols to indicate each of the areas people may wish to know about: Gender; Age (approx.); Breed; Colour; Can live with cats; Can live with dog; Can live with a family; Can live with mature family; Indoor only cat; Access to outside.

They visit the home if there are children, other animals or anything they think may affect the cat. This is good. Cats are solitary but need others to survive. All animals both social and solitary at some point must interact with others.
So now I need to think of a name for this stray who is now homed… that is the next challenge once the paperwork is completed.

I liked the place. It was a very laid back feel but they were definitely busy and doing their very best to ensure the cats were well cared for and not needlessly stressed by their current circumstances which could easily happen especially with the younger ones or those whose first, and hopefully only time ever here, before finding their ‘forever home’ which the staff truly wish happens with each adoption.

http://www.bridgend.cats.org.uk/bridgend


Editting… I just cannot do it…. Delayed updates result… Will be more updates in due course a few days from now.

Brother Door-Keeper and Brother Gate-Opener

In my town strange things happen… Let me begin not by telling you where the grotesques featured at the top of my blog come from. They are from the oldest church of the town, with the midnight cross, that overlooks the town and are for another time to discuss.
Let me first tell you of the clergy who frequent one of the churches on the edge of the town centre so you may better understand the people whom frequent this place at the end of the bridge.

Once it was a small cattle market town prone to flooding, as all low lying land is, and nothing more than a pleasant wayside stop gap for those journeying between the whitewashed capital and the major Western port city where a poet once lived and is forever immortalised for his debauchery more so than his words. This town, my home town, is no longer such a place and many have doubted it ever was except in rose tinted memory. Now it is a sprawling cesspit of various architectural styles, built one on top of the other, with no unified design,: Georgian, modern, gothic, 1980s Avant-garde, red brick, black tar, sandstone and slate, concrete and cement like a mottled patchwork rag with equally disparate housing developments spreading like cancer into every crevice not yet rid of its greenery. No single parish council ever wished to concede to another, before or after, and so the town is a homunculus writhing in its own filth screaming to be put out of its misery. But it cannot anymore because too many have staked their claim and now find they are held within its grasp.

There is a church on the edge of town, the youngest of the three, with large iron gates and ivy covered trellis. A sandstone wall stops anyone looking in on the church’s grounds and slick black burglar-proof paint sits ever ready to stop people climbing over it. Behind this fortification two men, dressed in the dour cassocks of their faith, sit on three legged wooden stools in the courtyard under the dappled light of a tree. Neither is exceptionally young nor old but of an age that would suggest authority, knowledge and above all wisdom has been gained with the passage of time.
Brother Door-keeper, who speaks in husky tones, and Brother Gate-opener, whose voice is a lilting warble, while away their hours giggling between themselves furtively. One holds a heavy iron gate-padlock and the other the key with which to unlock it. Listening carefully at the wall you may hear this conversation repeated time and time again:

“Brother door-keeper has a lock…”
“…And Brother Gate-Opener, a key, a key which fits into this lock I have upon me.”
“It is an impressive key to look upon is it not Brother Door-Keeper?”
“Indeed as surely must this padlock be too to the uninitiated. But please be gentle, my dear Brother Gate-Opener, when you insert your key. I doubt my frail clasp may withstand such a forceful insertion as this key is capable of.”
“Fear not Brother Door-Keeper. I have been commended on the delicacy with which I handle this shaft I hold in my hand.”
“Then do as you must Brother Gate-Opener. Penetrate the hallowed darkness of this lock’s sanctity. I feel there is no choice for us now but to proceed apace…”
“I shall do so Brother Gate-Keeper with your blessing, but be reassured, you are in seasoned hands… the insertion may cause some discomfort but, be confident, it shall be only momentary…”
“Brother Door-Opener!”
“Brother Gate-Keeper!”
“Oh, Brother Door-Opener!”
“Ah, Brother Gate-Keeper! Do you feel the sweet release?”
“The unveiling Brother Door-Opener is indescribable!”
“Let me mop your brow Brother Gate-Keeper!”
“Oh that you would, Brother Door-Keeper, that you would…”

It is for this reason no one visits this church. They are silly people and perform this pantomime every single time the grounds must be opened be it Sabbath, a saint’s feast or any other Holy day. Celibacy truly is a heavy vow to have undertaken and they must find such little release in their duties through such innuendo…

But they are, I assure you, a friendly pair who would happily chat and help any who would seek it…unlike those missionary sisters whose church of the midnight cross overlooks the town. But that is a story for another day…


This was not the story I was going to write but in the end I decided to adapt an idea I had in an old notebook just to gauge if there is any validity in the idea. An unpolished piece by anyone’s estimations but the core humour of it is there and considering it consisted only of the concept of two celibate monks being sexually frustrated and acting out using a key and lock I think it went okay… Next time I may do a review of something just to keep mixing it up. Then I will hopefully write about those macabre missionaries mentoned above as they were in a short story, which got positive feedback, though I will have to adapt them for a blog vignette and may have to split it into about 3 seperate posts.

My intention with the ‘In My Homtown Strange Things Happen…’ series is to practise a bit of creative writing inspired by different bits of the town and surrounding area. With each fantastical story will be a short piece underneath about the real life locale.

There are actually three churchs in the vicinity of the towncentre, St Illtyd’s (which does overlook the town on top of a hill with a cross lit up, in the winter, on its bell tower), St Marys, and the recently constructed Catholic church.

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/92/35/1923535_23526cc8.jpg

http://www.catholicchurchbridgend.org.uk/

The church in the story above is prehaps an overblown version of the Catholic one. The story in no way represents the actual church nor any of the people involved with it in any way. In truth the story came about independently of this place but I couldn’t think of a similar place to set the story and prehaps should have left it out of the series as an independant vignette as it came from a very brief story concept scribbled one day years ago and only typed up in one sitting just now. The two priests of the real place are quite young and I met them when attended a wedding once. Its a nice place but personally I have always preferred the older churchs and cathedral designs as they offer a sense of awe, as was the intent when built, and that you are in a special place. The modern design, in keeping with certain other very recently built locations around town, seems all too modern and I wonder how soon it will be that we will look back at it as modern generations do now the concrete tower blocks and awkward designs of the 1960s?

Feedback and comments are welcome.