Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


i-Betty: Boris Johnson is home, a hamster falls in love with itself, and here’s a bumblebee

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of hospital and appeared on video in a suit and tie less than two hours after leaving St Thomas’ hospital in London, the impression given that he is keen to get back to overseeing the country’s coronavirus response as soon as possible. He said he has no doubts whatsoever that the NHS (our National Health Service) saved his life, so he was clearly very sick indeed. After spending a week in hospital, including three days in intensive care, BoJo will recuperate at his country retreat at Chequers (weekend home of all UK PMs, just like Camp David in the US, but with more chimneys), where he will be joined by his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who had herself been suffering coronavirus symptoms.

How frightening must it be to be pregnant during a time of pandemic infection? A friend of ours is a midwife and she delivered a baby just last week while dressed in full PPE gear as the mother had tested positive for coronavirus. Not only could the mother not have her partner accompany her to the delivery suite, she couldn’t hold her baby after giving birth. Apparently this incredible woman was simply happy to have given birth to a healthy baby. Everything else at that moment could take a back seat. Our NHS makes us proud every single day.


London-born photographer Mick Rock — known as The Man Who Shot The Seventies — has charted the careers of the great stars of music and is responsible for some of the most famous album covers, including Lou Reed’s Transformer and Queen’s Queen II. Rock is to release five of his unpublished portraits of pop culture legends David Bowie, Kate Moss, Bryan Ferry, Freddie Mercury and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd and 20 percent of the sales of the prints will go towards providing PPE for our NHS staff. How cool is this portrait from 2002 of Rock’s friend Bowie?

As in much of the world, the UK’s schools, colleges and universities are closed to facilitate rigorous social distancing. Students across the country are coming up with ingenious ways to support their local communities and the NHS while in lockdown. One such initiative is from students at Harrogate grammar school who, with the help of their teachers, have repurposed their design department as a PPE production line following rigid self-isolation protocols which has made more than 1,000 visors so far for its local hospital, Harrogate District. We love you, UK teachers and students!

Staff in receipt of the visors posted this wonderful photo.

Our town butcher took the decision to close his doors entirely a few weeks ago and instead he takes orders for mixed boxes of meat and delivers them to his customers. My daughter arranged for a gargantuan box to be dropped off yesterday and this strict vegetarian was grossed out by it, obviously. Apart from the bacon. The bacon is all mine.

Speaking of small furry mammals…

My daughter adopted a rescue hamster several months ago. Don’t ask. OK, you can ask. Her friend is a primary school teacher and the hamster was the class pet. A little boy with allergies joined her class so she needed a new home for the hamster, pronto. OK? Asked and answered (my sole courtroom turn of phrase. It probably means you will go to prison — solitary — if you continue to press me on the legitimacy of “rescue hamsters”).

The hamster’s name is Jeffrey. My daughter’s friend (foolishly, she now acknowledges in hindsight) permitted her students to choose his name by writing their own suggestions on slips of papers and putting them in a hat to be chosen “at random” by Miss White. Miss White, knowing how the minds of her children work, took a sneak peek — and if I tell you that among the more sensible suggestions were “Unicorn Goat” and “My Dad” you will understand why Jeffrey was chosen “at random.” Except Jeff is female. My daughter, reluctant to rend Jeff’s sense of Self, has decided that while he might be a lady, he most certainly identifies as male.

There’s a problem with that. Jeff’s luxury abode sits just beneath a large wall mirror on our landing. When I tell you that Jeff has a troublingly well-developed ability to walk upside down across his ceiling you will understand how it has come to pass that he is able to climb high enough to peer into the mirror. Syrian hamsters are solitary, territorial mammals and will attack other Syrians on sight. However Jeff has fallen so hard for his reflection that he’s convinced she is his bride and cannot understand why she will only communicate with him via the medium of mime. Jeff coos and chirps and chatters and flirts but no matter what he tries he cannot get her to initiate a conversation. This makes him sad. Luckily tiny pieces of cheese make him happy and he has a very short attention span.

Are you ready for The Eight Degrees of Jeffrey?

Upside down ceiling walker — Spider Pig from the Simpsons Movie — Bart Simpson — Nancy Cartwright — Our Lady of the Night — Valley Org — Scientology.

Once again I prove adept at gently ushering the conversation Bunkerwards. With a crowbar.

This week a bumblebee flew in through my son’s bedroom window. I screamed at him that it was the coronavirus and for upwards of five seconds he completely and utterly believed me, snatching up his phone (presumably to call the World Health Organisation), sprinting for the bathroom, and slamming the door behind him. As he streaked past me I could see nought but the whites of his eyes. You might think he is seven years old. He is twenty one. Obviously we’ve allowed the entire humiliating experience to die a death and don’t laugh eighty times per day whenever we think about it.

Sadly I didn’t have time to take a photo of the coronavirus but at the top is a photo of a bumblebee on an opium poppy that I took last year in mum’s garden.

Stay home, stay safe, beloved Bunkeroos!


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email