Long-term resident

Live performance

Every day, Monday to Sunday, we clap at 8pm sharp. In our case, from the terrace of a sixth floor flat in the northern Barcelonan district of Nou Barris. Our applause is dedicated to the health workers who are risking their lives, Monday to Sunday, to try and save those afflicted with Covid-19 (though I also mentally include the cleaners and staff in care homes, the pharmacists, and the people who work in supermarkets and other food shops who are obliged to cling on to their underpaid jobs so that the rest of us – and they themselves – can eat). And now that Madrid has authorised the return to work of non-essential personnel, I suppose I should applaud them too, as they are also risking contagion on the newly busy buses and trains so that the wheels of commerce can go on spinning – well, rotating with a groan - and despite there being no shop open where we can buy anything except food (and drink) and medicine. When the daily applause started, spring was still a hypothesis and all we could see of our neighbours was the shadowy fluttering of their hands in the light from the streetlamps. A fortnight ago, darkness took a bow and all of a sudden we were all out there in ever brighter twilight, watching each other clap and clap, heads and shoulders leaning over balcony railings or window sills, people of all ages and all sizes – the usual variety wherever you go – and above us all, above the tallest of the tall buildings that abound in Nou Barris, was a pastel blue sky with yellowing strips of cloud that seemed to be trying to spell out some kind of a message for all us applauding strangers: something, perhaps, about the people we knew who had lost someone they couldn’t visit and could barely mourn; or about the ever-hounded African street sellers who had turned to making protective masks; or about the SEAT car workers who were now churning out respirators; or about all our friends that we can’t see, can’t meet, can’t touch glasses with, and can’t touch, period; or about all the people with small businesses and the people with no businesses at all or about the people who used to ask us for money on the street; or about our elderly relatives who had pre-empted the plague and about the ones who are now holed up in nursing homes; and, last but not least, about the fifteen non-violent criminals who had been allowed to confine with their families because they were on a semi-open regime called 100.2; and about the nine Catalan political prisoners – civic leaders, a Speaker of parliament, elected ministers – who are also non-violent and also qualify for 100.2 but who are being kept in unsafe prison environments because they committed the Original Sin of Self-Determination (which is such anathema to those whose principal faith is the Inviolable Divineness of our Blessed Mother of Spanish Unity). All this and more was lurking in those shreds of flaxen clouds as our applause popped out of the sides of the buildings below; or maybe, if there was any message up there for us, it was quite simply that we should use all this confined time to think, just think, about other people, about our own pasts, about everybody’s future, about the current virus that’s playing with us worldwide like a very large cat with 7.8 billion mice. To think, with a view to drawing our very own conclusions. Then acting on them.

Sign in. Sign in if you are already a verified reader. I want to become verified reader. To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader.
Note: To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader and accept the conditions of use.