Alan Bennett, 7 January 2021
16 August. Every evening around eight we walk round the block – literally a three minute walk. What in normal circumstances is one of Rupert’s good habits is to pick up any stray scraps of paper to put them in the bin, and this evening on the corner of Regent’s Park Road he retrieves a bit of paper which turns out to be a (previously used) tissue. He is appalled and we hasten home so that he can bin it and wash his hands. What we have not realised is that it’s Thursday and our progress is hindered by a fusillade of clapping and pan-banging from the neighbours out on their balconies in celebration of the NHS. Rupert can clap (even with the noxious tissue), but I can’t as I need to hold onto my walking stick. It also appears that, with me walking in the road, I appear to be acknowledging the applause and even generating it. I try to disavow this by feebly smiling and shaking my head, but this just looks like modesty. It’s an absurd and inexplicable incident.