via Eric Johnson Photography / Shutterstoc
The NHS clap last summer was a warming moment of unity across the country, but I enjoyed it for more personal reasons too. As individuals lined up on their doorsteps, clanging pots and pans, I had the rare opportunity to indulge my curiosity and identify everyone living on my road.
Until then, my knowledge of neighbours was fairly limited. I knew there was a young man in the house opposite who likes to smoke on his front step, a middle aged bloke downstairs who practices his bass guitar in the early hours of the morning, and a friendly French girl next door, who I’d bonded with over our shared frustration at the late-night bass player. At 8pm each Thursday, this small pool of neighbours was routinely expanded to interaction with the whole street.
It seems I’m not alone. In a recent poll, 1.42 million Londoners said that the Clap for Our Carers was the first time they’d ever laid eyes on the people who lived next door. And a quarter of adults say they’ve now spoken to neighbours who they’d had no contact with prior to the pandemic.