A bad dose of the clap

Thursday 11 September 2008

I went and saw Helen Garner this evening, who is an Australian author and a bit of a hero of mine, have an intimate chat about her new book The Spare Room. It was held through the Professional Writing and Editing group via the TAFE that runs out of my university.

Problem with going to see things held by groups of people that have formed themselves into committees is that everyone has to be thanked. Even the young guy who did the mikes. And then after Helen talked we had to clap some more for the young students who sang, and then clap every single bloody time one of the poetry group got up to read their poem, clap after every poem, and then clap when they sat down.

And you can call me a grumpy old bitch if you want, but having to clap every goddamn person under the sun kind of detracts from what we're there for. The people who organised it worked very hard, I'm sure. But so do plenty of other people who don't get clapped for doing their bloody job. The MC may as well have asked us to clap his dentist and his mother. He also managed to point out the strings being pulled behind the scenes, and every other bloody thing that me as a patron goer shouldn't have to give a shit about so that the enchantment of listening to Helen talk about death (yep :) doesn't get washed away by a wave of polite middle class self-conscious convention.

People will know that they are appreciated without us clapping them every three minutes. And if they don't then that's their own goddamn problem.

I'm glad I don't go to many things that involve incessant clapping. I'm not very good at it :)


  1. Sue, one thing that used to drive me crazy was people clapping for something the preacher had just said that got them jazzed.

    I remember being at a Michael Card concert and thought the claps after his song Know You In The Now were very awkward being a song that exposes "the once a week observance when we coldly mouth his words." Strange thing to send people into a clapping frenzy. I really don't think people were really listening.

    Before his last song that night he politely asked that people would just quietly let the night end with no standing O, of which everyone adhered to....it was so nice.

  2. Given the title, I was relieved to read the content of this post!
    Yes, call me a grumpy old bitch as well, but I agree.
    We've just been learning at work about Generation Y people (also known as millennials - kids just now starting work) and the way they've been brought up to be praised for the simplest things, so need constant personal affirmation.
    Parents of Millennial generation: "Johnny, you hung your coat up so nicely, what a good boy you are."
    Parents of our generation: "John, don't you dare leave your coat on the floor. Hang it up right now then do your homework. I'll be checking on you."
    Yeah, I prefer the thumbscrews approach!

  3. That's like a University graduation ceremony where you have to clap for each person, and there's like 1000 of them. Can't we just clap at the end?

  4. Ooh, I really thought I wouldn't get any comments on this one. It's nice to see that other people see the unvalue of clapping, haha!! What annoys me about it is that it's just some stupid cultural thing that's evolved, and all it would take at the beginning of the evening would be for one person to say, "We appreciate all these people blah blah blah but please, can you save your clapping until the end?" Then people can relax cos the stupid social contract that has them sitting stiffly in their chairs and being all boringly bloody formal can be relaxed - a social contract that no one is really interested in. It's just weird.

    The world's weird. I wanna get off

  5. Amen!!! on this one sister. What's a clap anyway? ..meaningles. BTW - I love the title, I'm not going to write what I thought!!!!

  6. ummm. you know you have control of your hands, right? it may seem like a radical notion, but when you are in a room full of clappers, you can NOT clap. i've done it before. it's very liberating.

    or NOT participating in the standing ovation that everyone else is giving a very mediocre performance of anything. that's fun too. not to be a grump, but to say, "i just don't think you were that good. i save my accolades for the truly exceptional."

    and don't get me started on the generation of teenagers i have to work with who think that just because they showed up to work at all they deserve a cookie, some juice, and a nap. some days i don't think that the world is going to collapse under war, i just think kids are going to get so lazy and ignorant that they won't be able to sustain a society anymore.

  7. Mork - go on, write what you thought! :)

    Jon - I did desist from clapping for part of the night but it was in a grumpy fashion, unfortunately :)

    Ahh, you can tell you've reached that magical age of middleness when you start going on about the teenagers. Have you heard that quote from whoever-it-was talking about the teenagers and how shiteful they were and how the world will go to hell with them in charge, and it turns out it was written by some greek dude in 130AD or something. Hehe :)

    But yes, having said that, I agree. Spoilt brats. Shove them all in the army :D

  8. I should get the clap because I read about all those people who got the clap. It's not fair! People who get the clap should show some gratitude and give the clap to people who don't ordinarily get the clap...you know, people who are generally too busy to do whatever it is that gets you the clap.

    Thanks for the rebuttal on my page! Much needed.

    Love the redesign. If you've had it for a while now...that's how long it's been since I have been able to troll. Love RSS!

  9. LOL :)

    Rebuttal on your page? Well, it's been so long that I don't know what the hell you're talking about, heh :)

  10. Sorry. Wrong Chris. I was thinking you were someone else :)

    The rebuttal I gave you yesterday on your P&P blog. I'm with you now. Hehe :)


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