Lockdown is now beginning to affect Barney the Beagle and Pebbles the cat. Never the best of friends, Barney would ignore Pebbles as long as she stayed still or moved slowly, if she made a dash for it or appeared unexpectedly through her cat clap then he would give chase. For all his speed and fury, he is a beast of very little brain; she invariably escapes. But now to relieve the monotony of my being at home, they are working as a team.

Pebbles has a penchant for the younger and smaller members of the rodent family. She brings them home in the wee, small hours and then plays with them (without causing any actual bodily harm) usually in my bedroom waking me up with excited meows and scrabbling noises. I used to leap out of bed to attempt to liberate the terrorised creatures before it succumbed to heart failure. Then, for the rest of the night, I was treated to plaintive cries from a bemused moggy trying work out what had become of her companion.

I have recently become more sanguine chasing cat and the mouse out of the bedroom and return to bed leaving them the run of the house. Which left me the next morning wondering what happened to the mouse? The nagging doubt that it was still lurking in some dark corner of the house ready to leap out at me.

But teamwork that I never thought them capable of has now kicked in. Pebbles continues to bring her playmates home and Barney has now assumed the role of their rescuer. After spending the nights in his bed in the utility room, he puts his sense of smell to good use in the morning tracking the unsuspecting critter down. The last one made the unforgivable error of trying to hide in his bed!

Miraculously, they are now an effective well-matched team; the care with which Pebbles carries them unscathed into the house is complemented by the delicacy with which Barney grabs them and speeds them out the door. The mice seem to survive their encounters with both my pets. They rush off into the undergrowth, no doubt to tell their parents or offspring about their dice with death and miraculous deliverance…

My purpose in recounting these adventures is to acknowledge the depths to which many of us have sunk in Lockdown Britain. Things that we previously brushed off as mere trifles, have become high points in our now otherwise uneventful lives. My favourite lock down cartoon shows a dog and his owner peering over the back of a sofa out of the window. The dog’s tail is wagging; the owner says ‘Until now, I never understood why you got so excited when someone walked past the house…’