‘With Bella’s flight delayed, there was still time to find the hamster’

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D

oes my boss have access to internet searches on my laptop, I wondered as I googled “how long does a hamster live?”. On Friday Bella announced that she’d finally got herself a flight back to London from St Barts, leaving her husband and step-son, Zack, behind. How bad can homeschooling be if you’d swap St Barts for Putney to get out of it?

Anyway, Bella’s return meant she would be coming to pick up Zack’s hamster, Minky, whom she’d left in my care. Minky has been living under the fridge since New Year’s Eve, emerging only to eat the seed I put out for her each night and leave her thanks in the form of a neat pile of droppings. Returning from my state-sanctioned walk around Tooting Common each day, I can smell rodent pee as I step through the door. At least it proves I haven’t lost my sense of smell. According to the new list of Covid symptoms Brenda posted on the street WhatsApp, loss of smell is still the biggie, though Robert at number 67 is convinced he never had an ingrowing toenail until he contracted the virus last April.

As soon as I got Bella’s flight news, I flew into action. Minky continued to evade capture. I briefly considered trying to suck her out from behind the fridge with the Dyson but guessed that might end in tears. However, as I understood it, Zack hadn’t had Minky long before they went away. Would he notice if I brought in a ringer?

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