THE Thursday night clap for the NHS has become a time for good-natured neighbourhood unity. With cowbells and saucepan drums often accompanying the applause, it lifts the spirits once a week. But there’s always that awkward moment, isn’t there, when nobody wants to be the first to stop clapping. “How long is it meant to go on for?” I’m thinking, as it turns 8.05pm.

My friend and her husband were greeted with an eerie silence when they went on their street last week, banging pans with spoons. Eventually it dawned on was Friday.