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There's something thoroughly un-British about spontaneously bursting into applause

‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’ is a hideously repetitive nursery song many of us were brainwashed with as children – which perhaps explains the spontaneous applause when Speaker Bercow resigned in the House of Commons earlier this week. 

Ultimately, it is a mass behaviour. Watching Bercow’s resignation at home, I almost found myself rising up to join in. Not because I felt he deserved any tribute but because whenever I hear anyone else clapping I can’t help but start clapping too. Like yawning, it’s irresistibly contagious.

As a nation, though, I fear that we’ve officially lost the plot. We used to clap as a mark of respect at the start of toasts and the end of speeches. Take...

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