Bertie & Me

Number of days it’s been illegal for me to be in the same room as my best friends: 290 in total, including: one period of self isolation, three national lockdowns, two local lockdowns and two tiers (on three different occasions). 145 consecutive days.

Pasta stocks: gone big on the pasta supplies due to intention to avoid going to the shops as much as possible, cause baby, it’s coronar-y outside. To be honest, this plan hasn’t been going entirely smoothly. There’s a three pronged attack including: supermarket deliveries, occasional recipe boxes from Gousto and fortnightly vegetable deliveries. I have a big plan which has all the food I’m supposed to eat from now until the apocalypse (so, you know, any time from March 2020 onwards). In the first week of this plan, I missed my slot to edit my supermarket delivery online due to migraine so missed half the things on my list (I’d booked a slot to reserve it before they all disappeared with editing-intentions), my veg delivery was snow-ed off and my Gousto box was late. Still, we’re six weeks into the year and I’ve been to the top three times, and I have enough for the next two weeks, which isn’t so bad.

That being said, last time I went to the supermarket the combination of over the shoulder bag and shirt didn’t go very well. Apparently, something about where the strap was sitting just…. Undid the top three buttons of my shirt. I looked down when I was returning my trolly and realised that I’d just been walking around in my bra. Absolutely no idea how much of the supermarket trip was spent with my boobs out, but there we go. At this point, I also was trying to push the trolly, pull my super-cool granny pull-trolly containing three weeks of shopping and carrying two bags of stuff that didn’t fit in my trolly, so I couldn’t even fix it immediately.

There are probably a number of reasons I should avoid going to the shop. Will leave it up to you to decide if “ avoiding coronavirus” or “avoiding flashing everyone” is a better reason. At least I had a mask on to hide my face.

Mum’s quote of the week:

Great minds think alike but some can type faster. So true, Mum. So true.


Nothing has happened in my life in approximately ten months, so this is me just gratuitously talking about my cat. Buckle up your seat belts, folks, it’s about to get pandemic-interesting.

(This being the scale where “reorganising your spice rack’ has become a valid evening activity. If you were wondering, after consulting a friend I decided to go for “frequency” rather than “alphabetical” with any duplicates stored in a separate cupboard. I also threw out some mint that went out of date in 2012. Thrilling stuff).

Bertrand Hiorns-Russel became part of my household approximately four months ago. He is a good additional member of the household in that he doesn’t mean I lose my entitlement to a bubble (or single person council tax) and I really like my bubble. He’s a bad member of the household in that he doesn’t contribute to my mortgage and I’m regularly expected to clean up his excrement. I’ve had many lodgers before and all of them have paid me rent and not relieved themselves in my front room in a box of wood chips (that I know of). According to the paperwork lovingly given to me by cats protection, Bertie’s approximate month of birth falls in this month.

Happy first birthday Bertie!! 

Adopting a cat in a pandemic is kind of weird. I’ve heard that normally they do house inspections and you meet the cat etc etc, but I filled in an application, sent them proof of my address, paid my donation then rocked up to a semi-deserted retail park.

Friend who drove me (and reassured me that everything would be fine) and I wander aimlessly around the car park, cross referencing the instructions, before we find a weird, large gate and a bell.

We ring the bell.

Woman comes out in mask and says “you here for Harrison?” (This was Bertie’s name before he became mine)

I nod.

Woman nods, shuts gate and disappears.

Friend and I look at each other. 

Woman comes out and hands me a cat carry with a cat in and hands me several sheets of paperwork, then disappears. Feels weirdly like a drug deal rather than a legitimate cat transaction, but we take cat carry and I sit in the back with my new pal Bertie and drive home.

Bertie is “chatty” which means “makes a bloody racket”. He meows a heartbreaking chorus on the way home while I baby talk to him from the back seat. He is very tiny (my niece, who was very excited about Bertie, had said the week before that he was “small enough to fit into a slipper” because she saw a video of him. He is not this small)  and he is very smol.

Friend comes in when we get home (this is in those two weeks of the year where this is legal, as it happens) and we let Bertie go a-roaming and sit very quietly and watch him hide under my sofa. I give him dreamies. By that evening, we are curled up together watching television.

He is, obviously, completely perfect. He is absolutely the best lockdown decision I have made so far.

So here are some facts for you to get to know Bertie before we begin.

Bertie likes to share.

He is a massive fan of Christmas.

And he loves cuddles.

He just loves them.

Lockdown Diaries with Bertie

Morning (Cuddle hour, breakfast time, the zoomies)

Day begins with Bertie clawing at bedroom door and squeaking to get attention. This means he has decided that it is MORNING which means he would like attention and also breakfast. As previously mentioned by cats protection, Bertie is “chatty” (read: loud), so I ignore this for as long as I am able — I love sleep, hate mornings — then let Bertie into my room for what I have affectionately dubbed ‘cuddle hour’.

Cuddle hour either contains Bertie sitting on my chest / face while he purrs and I stroke him, or it contains Bertie trying to burrow under my duvet and hunt my feet. At its best, cuddle hour involves us both falling back to sleep with him tucked under my arm and purring and at worse it contains Bertie leaping across the bed and head butting me in the eye (I’m charitably assuming this was accidental). This also tends to involve a lot of Bertie licking my face.

I do understand that this is a sign of great affection, but it is also unpleasant. Particularly so when Bertie attempts to ‘clean’ my hair which usually involves him ripping a fair bit of it from my skull. 

Sometimes, he gets bored of these activities and fights the pull light over my bed. He does this by standing on the edge of my headboard and batting this around. Unfortunately, he’s not very good at this, so this generally ends with 4kgs (Bertie is no longer tiny and smol; he is approximately double the size of when he was bought home) of cat falling on my head.

I like cuddle hour. As I’m writing this, I am not entirely sure why. 

Eventually, after I cannot ignore my alarms any longer (or Bertie has hunted my feet so successfully that they are bleeding), I get out of bed. 

As I mentioned in one of my other blogs, my bathroom pull light died in August. There was a bit of a saga involved in fixing it (unlabelled fuse box, burglar alarm with no known code etc etc; story for another time) and I am both slightly lazy and was living alone in a pandemic, so I just lived without a bathroom light for five months. After a while, I did get a special ‘bathroom torch’ which I think added a sense of camping-esque-adventure to going to the loo, which I’m sure my bubble appreciated when they came over for bubble dinner. At the moment, you have to take your ‘excitement’ where you can get it. However, these were also Bertie’s formative months and it was very dark outside, so he has become very accustomed to the bathroom door being open.

This means that when I crawl from bed to bathroom and sit on the loo, Bertie generally immediately sits on my lap and demands stroking. If the door is shut, he sits outside and whines and this is loud, so normally I just let him in.

I did not expect to be this person. I think I have retained some respectable boundaries with not letting him in my room at night (this was cemented the second time he fell on my head pre 6am on those occasions where I forgot/ he snuck in). Once, my sister told me a story of their cat falling off her legs when she was on the loo and digging her claws in all the way down and I thought I would never be that person.

I’m not, but only because I make sure I’m wearing layers on my legs. I know the second I sit on the toilet I’m getting a lap full of cat, so it’s good to be prepared.

After I chuck him off my lap, he sits in the sink while I attempt to brush my teeth. The first few times I attempted to be gracious and not just turn the tap on when he sat there, but… I’m already running late enough in the morning and really he should have learnt by now. 

Next, we have a compromise where I get to put the kettle on first before Bertie finally gets his breakfast, although he does like to attempt to crawl up my leg during this process just to make sure I don’t forget about his breakfast. We also like to play a game where Bertie decides to forgo the lovely hand painted bowl of water with his name on and instead jumps on the counter, walks over the sink and drinks the leftover cleaning-out-the-cafetiere water that I gave the plants, then I tell him off and he pretends to give a crap and I pretend to believe I have any authority or control over his behaviour (I do not).

By this point, I am usually slightly late for work even though ‘work’ is my sofa and Bertie is in a post-breakfast zoom-phase (zoom like running around like a maniac not like video calling zoom; Bertie has yet to independently video call people). I log in to my laptop / first meeting while Bertie fights the blinds / hunts my now-sock-clad feet / knocks the coffee table (and my coffee) over. Occasionally, he takes advantage of this time to test out his career as ‘butt model’ by shoving his ass in the direction of my video camera, but usually by the time my first meeting finishes he’s calmed down and taken himself off upstairs to snuggle up with my clean laundry.

He continues hanging out on my clean clothes until the afternoon. He does not appreciate being interrupted.

Afternoon (psychological warfare /  ‘give me attention hour’)

At some point between 3pm and 4pm, Bertie shows up again which is nice. I like to think that he’s trying to help me out of my afternoon slump by reminding me that I’m working hard to keep him in dreamies, disgusting sachets of tuna and litter, but mostly I think it’s because the sun’s gone in so the laundry room is no longer the warmest room in the house. Sometimes, he does this by depositing himself on my lap and well…. Watching me like a total creeper. Preferably, he comes and sits on my lap mid-meeting and demonstrates to the masses that he is affectionate and beautiful.

Or, if he’s in the mood for a game he very subtly finds his favourite toy and drags it into my vicinity then looks at me which is slightly less helpful for getting through my workload. Sometimes, if I’m particularly reluctant to play with him he passive aggressively plays by himself, by dragging the toy onto the sofa, then fighting it from the floor until it hits him on the head.

Currently, Bertie is an indoor cat. I have made efforts to let him outside, but he’s not completely convinced by it. He’s made it a foot out and then mostly hides in some unknown location ( I think in my bedroom). At this point of the day, I’m very glad about this, because it’s nice to have someone else in my house wanting attention or just being there and well… I’m not allowed out, so why should the cat be?

Last week, I had a minor heart attack because I thought there was someone else in my house and then I realised I’d walked past a mirror and seen myself in the peripheries. I think it’s good for me to have another being around the house. I’ve stopped talking to the plants so much, at least (although this is in part because most of them are dead; tis the season and all that), although I’ve noticed that sometimes I talk to Bertie in a Russian accent for no reason. I have filed this under “deal with after pandemic”.

Evening ( you are but a pillow time) 

Currently, I’m trialing a new thing where after I finish work I set a timer for 45 minutes and have to ‘adult’ until the timer goes off. This is in part because I’m trying to have a proper sabbath on Sundays because reasons, but also because I’m trying to segment my day a bit better and stop myself from shutting my work laptop and sitting aimlessly in the exact same spot while time just passess.  Not necessarily usually so keen on structure, but life does tend to become a bit of a long homogeneous mass otherwise. I mean, it’s fine. Everything falls into the realm of being ‘okay’ if not particularly interesting or fun, so, yes, structure. 

Bertie is super helpful for this chore time and demonstrates this by: knocking laundry off the dryers while I’m trying to hang them; breaking into the cupboard where his food is keep, somehow getting the food sachets out of the box, shredding the packets with his teeth and ‘storing’ them in unexpected places so I don’t run out of things to tidy; kicking his litter all over the floor to give me ample opportunity to enjoy my new hoover; knocking things off the coffee table because he likes to watch the world burn; winding round my feet on the stairs, knocking over my coffee. He looks out for me, does our Bertie. 

Once I’ve adulted, cooked and we’ve both eaten, I usually end up embracing my super fun ‘social life’ which consists of video call home church or video calls with the besties, or video ‘What the book book club’ podcast (this week we’re reviewing ‘Kissing the Coronavirus’ and ‘Pounded by the pound:Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union’; it’s sure to be a real high point of the week), or playing ticket to ride on the phone to my family. Or it involves playing a video game or reading a book or watching netflix, etc. The common thematic theme for all of these activities is the sofa.

(This week I decided to ‘shake things up’ a bit and sit on one of my other sofas for a bit. It was quite exciting really).

Bertie has perfected the art of only choosing to sit on me at maximum inconvenient moments, like when I have just thought ‘I’d quite like another glass of wine’ or ‘probably time for bed’ and thus trapping me on the sofa for hours a time. Or he straight up sits on the wii remote. During this time, he ‘kneads’ me which is theoretically a sign of great affection, but it turns out even through three layers I still ended up with my stomach peppered with little red marks from his claws.

See also: my hands, my feed and the other week — goodness knows how but I bet it was his fault — my forehead. This is an extra fun game due to the prevalent requirement of alcohol hand gel. Ain’t no party like a hand sanitizer in a cut, party. 

It should also be noted that Bertie does not respect the sanctity of the keyboard. It’s like he doesn’t care that I’m the highly successful author of a book, The Name On Your Wrist (no longer known on Amazon as ‘why my life sucks and what you should do about it’ because it seems like they’ve finally corrected that. Shame, it was kind of funny).  He has managed to achieve some strange things in his time. My highlights are:

  • Somehow sending my bestie a screenshot of my screen while we were watching remote Drag Race
  • Somehow sending two sentences of my NaNoWriMo attempt (we got like a week in) repeated about fifty times into the chat function of my online game of ticket to ride. 
  • Somehow setting my desktop background as a screenshot of me googling how to take a screenshot. 

I should note here that there are some variations of this that do involve other human beings in the flesh. Every Thursday I leave the house (!!!)  to go to the foodbank, on Sundays we have a bubble dinner rotation and we do the ad-hoc bit of bubbling. Bertie isn’t 10000% on other people because he hasn’t really met any, but he’s getting used to my bubble. He likes to make himself known here, too, like when we played bubble hairdressers and Bertie sat on the pile of my freshly cut hair for no apparent reason, or that truly excellent evening where we had takeout, prosecco, played Just Dance and tried to give Bertie his worming treatment (the obvious combination of activities). 

But normally it’s Netflix and blankets and video calls and cat-cuddles. Books (questionable and otherwise) with glasses of wine. Trying to get Bertie to let me paint. Harry Potter Lego Wii 1-4 for the second time this pandemic (decided once per lockdown was acceptable), playing the sims and laughing at them getting the ‘cabin fever’ moodlet after three days of not leaving the house (FU, sim), joggers / PJs and hibernation. 

After another thrilling day of doing not much, I extract myself from underneath Bertie with varying degrees of success and then trudge up to bed, shut the door VERY FIRMLY in the name of sleep and prepare myself to repeat the whole process tomorrow.

And the next day.

And the next.




(I think at least one of us has Stockholm syndrome)

5 things I would like to keep after all of this is over:

  1. Sunday Bubble Dinners! I’m sure that we’ll expand the guest list, but it’s such a great way to end the weekend.
  2. Gardening breakdown. I’ve already embraced the mania for 2021, with my seeds propagating on the window sill and my potatoes a-chitting. I have a plan. I have seeds. I’m so ready for the snow to go away so I can start planting.
  3. Having mildly less anxiety about making phone calls. Not saying I’ve been cured (or I’d have given up checking my Drs website every night where their ‘appointments are released’ — which is a blatant lie — and just called them already).
  4. My killer time-saving strategy of: jumper over PJs and lipstick to make it look like you’ve made a genuine effort.
  5. Bertrand Hiorns-Russel

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