Are you a hamsterkaufer? An A-Z of the strangest year ever

It’s just one of the words in Stuart Heritage’s A to Z of the strangest year ever.


The clean, clear hit of oxygen you get when you remove your face mask. Future generations will never understand the full-body pleasure that comes from whipping off your mask after a gruelling trip to the Post Office.

Background curation

The act of conducting Zoom calls before a tableau that’s a perfect distillation of your personality. If it’s a bookshelf, you’re telling the world that you’re a big reader. Kitchen? You love domesticity. Blank walls? You’ve got something to hide, you murderer.


The inability to tell what day it is because life has been one long unending grey smear since the middle of March. Sure, you’re reading this on a Sunday, but are you sure it’s Sunday?


The inability to sleep properly because of everything that’s going on in the world. Not to be confused with coronacolepsy, which is the inability to stay awake because of everything that’s going on in the world.


The generation of children born during coronavirus. These kids will be characterised by an inability to socialise, bafflement at the prospect of foreign travel and parents who hate each other.

Covid cuffing

Pre Covid-19, ‘cuffing season’ was the name given to the period of time where single people look for short-term relationships to help them through the winter months. Covid cuffing is when people hurry into relationships just because they don’t want to be lonely during self-isolation. See also ‘covidivorce’.


Instagram pictures where you group-hug your 20 best friends? Covidiot. Stand too close to me in the pharmacy queue? Covidiot. Wear a mask over your mouth but not your nose? Covidiot. Claim that turmeric cures the virus on Facebook? Covidiot.


The act of being unable to prise yourself away from a torrent of bad news on your phone. ‘Where are the children?’ ‘Sorry, I started doom-scrolling an hour ago… Maybe they ran away?’


A lovely German word that means panic-buying. Just as a hamster stuffs its cheeks, you will rush to the supermarket to cram your trolley with as many staples as possible. Do you really need six different types of tinned meat? Of course not.

hamster with shopping trolley
Getty Images


An epidemic of information. Do you have the test and trace app? The symptom tracker? Are you watching the briefings? What tier are you on? Do you know your R rate for your postcode? It’s all too much to take in…


An isolation bar, aka a vast stock of alcohol to help you through the long days and weeks and months until this all goes away.


A skin condition stemming from the wearing of face masks. The moist, damp conditions under the mask can bring out a spotty rash. The good news is that you can simply hide your maskne under a mask. The bad news is that this will make it worse.

Pasta magpie

If you’ve ever watched a pensioner sigh because you’ve cleared the shelf of penne, you’re a pasta magpie. If a checkout worker has tutted as they scan your 15th toilet roll multipack, you are also a pasta magpie.


A drink you make in your isobar. It might not follow a traditional cocktail recipe, but you’re making do with what you’ve got. ‘What are you drinking?’ ‘It’s like a sangria, but I’m using Chewits instead of oranges until the Ocado order gets here.’


The act of conducting a video call while half-dressed. The person on the end of the line thinks that you’re wearing a suit. However, from the waist down, you’re actually still in pyjamas.


Dumping a person over Zoom. Obviously better than ghosting (not responding to any messages or calls), and infinitely preferable to dumping someone via text message. You’d think a zumping would be worse than in-person dumping, but what if you start to dump someone in person then cough, and accidentally give them Covid? Perhaps the zump is the way of the future.