It's Creatures Galore!

with Billie Piper!


Billie here! How do you do?

I'm writing this with a warm glow in my heart, because once again, I've been helping creatures! That's right - it seems that each week, I seem to have one (and no more) adventure involving creatures. And this week was no exception.

I was in my chambers at home. My poor little baby monkeys had all come down with monkey flu, and I was staying up late to look after them. The clock on the mantlepiece ticked away the hours as I dashed around the cribs, taking temperatures, spooning medicine and clutching shivering simians to my breast. I was very worried - I had lost a handful of baby macaques to the flu that morning, and their still, furry bodies were heaped by the bins for the dustmen to take away. And then the strangest thing happened.

But you have to wait before I tell you about that!!!

I don't know where the illness could have come from. Only yesterday, my babies were all scampering around like nobody's business, getting up to their usual mischief!! Richie was there and we sang a lovely duet over tea, which was fishfingers and chips and beans.

Richie had brought the little monkeys some new blankets - I think the book by Mr. Darwin has had an effect on his silly head, because he finally seems to be accepting my little ones. The blankets were a bit chemically and smelly, and I asked him where he got them from.

"Oh, they're special monkey blankets from the Institute," he explained.

I was very grateful. Just imagine - my little babies all wrapped up snugly in special monkey blankets!!! From that big important science building on the hill!! I do love Richey, he can be difficult when he is being awkward, but he's very special.

Well, because he had found some kindness in his heart, I told him that he could stay the night again. He asked if he could have some honey too, and licked his lips.

"There's some in the cupboard," I said, pointedly.

I started gathering up my babies, and Richey even helped!! He picked up some of the gibbons, but I had to explain that you have to support their bottoms with your hand - you can't just hold them by one of their legs between your fingers. Anyway, we loaded ourselves up with the little ones and started climbing the stairs. Richey looked like he was going to topple over - he was so piled up with monkey babies!! He didn't though. Minutes later we were tucking each and every tiny monkey into it's crib, with the brand new blankets.

"Does baby like his new blanket?" I cooed, as I tickled Simon the mandrill under his colourful chin. Simon grunted sleepily and tucked his blue and red face under the blanket. He looked so sweet!!!

By the time I had tucked all 40 monkeys into their cots, Richie had got into the bed. He was kind of wriggling about - I guess he was just excited about staying over! I'm always like that when I sleep over at my friend's houses too!! Anyway, I had to go to the toilet before I went to bed, so I went to the bathroom. While I was there I scrubbed my face clean, and brushed my teeth. Do you brush your teeth twice a day? I hope you do!

When I came out of the bathroom, Richie was looking at me all funny!

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"Nothing's wrong". He patted the bed. "Come and get in."

I walked towards the bed and sat on the edge. I had this funny feeling in my tummy, like when you have been running and you are a bit nervous. It was quite nice really. Richie pulled back the sheets and gestured for me to get in. He was wearing his 5ive pyjamas, but he wasn't grinning. He looked more serious, like he had the funny feeling in his tummy too!!

Richie leaned towards to kiss, and I moved forward...

Suddenly, one of the marmosets cried out!! He was having a nightmare, poor thing! I leapt up straight away to comfort him, stroking his monkey head. Richie made a funny noise, like a "Hrummmp!", and turned to go to sleep. The little marmoset looked at me sleepily out of his one good eye (there had been an accident with a pencil), and yawned the sweetest little yawn!! Aahhh!! I tucked him into bed again and kissed his little forehead. I got back into bed, and I was so exhausted that I was out like a light!

I slept soundly until about 7 o'clock, when I was woken up by Richie. He was out of the bed and seemed to be scrubbing away at the sheets!!! I didn't know what on earth he was up to.

"Richie?" I croaked tiredly, "What are you doing?"

"Nothing", he said in a high voice. "Go back to sleep."

I was quite awake now, so I asked him again what he was up to. He looked a bit embarrassed, but eventually I got him to explain. He said that when he gets really happy he has to do a special wee, and that sometimes that could happen when he was asleep. Unfortunately, exactly that had happened, and he had kind of wet the bed, and was trying to clean it up. I was very angry!

"You've ruined my sheets!" I bellowed.

"I'm sorry, Billie, it's nature!" he whined in reply. I noticed that his pyjama bottoms had been sponged down.

"It's terrible! Get out of here, you dirty thing!" I roared in reply.

Richie slunk off looking wretched. "Take the sheets with you!" I shouted after him, and flung them at him. I'm not having him round here tomorrow night, even if it is his house too.

I took a moment to calm down - I don't want to wrinkle my face with frown-lines, do I?!! When I was quite relaxed, I went over to check my monkeys. They were in quite a state! Coughing and sneezing all over the place, they had all got poorly during the night! One of the baby rhesus monkeys sneezed and fell out of his cot!! A baby gorilla hawked up a huge gobbet of phlegm and sent it flying onto the face of a baby colobus. They were all in a right mess!!

"Oh my poor babies!' I cried, and rushed over to pet them all. I was worried sick (I cleaned it off Mr. Choo Choo immediately though). At first I panicked and ran around tearing at my hair!! What should I do? My babies had monkey flu!!! When I had calmed down it occurred to me that I could call Ms. Szasz, my personal vet who you may remember from my first adventure. I picked up the phone and dialed as quickly as I possibly could. The phone rang and Ms Szasz snatched it up.

"'Szasz," she barked into the receiver.

"Oh, Ms. Szasz. It's me, Billie."

"'Ah Billie! How are you?"

"Fine, fine. And yourself?"

"Not so bad. A bit tired - I was out last night."

"Where did you go?"

"The Ivy. Roger took me for a meal. It was lovely."

"Oooh! You lucky thing! It must have been dead romantic!"

"It was!" Ms Szasz giggled. "What about you? What have been up to then?"

"Not much, really. Some recording, a bit of TV, looking after the little ones, you know."

"Oh, you lead such a glamourous life!" Ms Szasz remarked. We laughed. "So, what can I do for you?" she asked.

"Oh erm... I've forgotten. Ha ha!! Typical."

"Was it about animals? I am a vet."

"Erm... well, I suppose it must have been. Erm... Oh well! I'll call you back when I remember - it can't have been that important, can it?!!" I laughed.

"I suppose not!" chuckled Ms Szasz in reply. "Give me a call when you remember. I'm in all day."

"OK. Thanks. Bye!" I rang off.

I sat for a moment and looked out of the window. It was a lovely day - the roads were quiet and the sun was shining. I like these little pauses in the day - so peaceful. I hummed 'Honey to the Bee' to myself, and thought about stuff like life and that. My reverie was disturbed when I felt something tugging on my trouser leg. I looked down. One of the macaques has crawled out of his cot and dragged his weak little body across the floor. He looked awful - his eyes were streaming, and his nose was swollen. I suddenly remembered why I had called Ms Szasz, as the little mite drew his final breath and expired on my shoe. My monkeys were dying!!

I called her again straight away, after a cup of tea and a biscuit (which was a bourbon). When Ms Szasz heard my news she rushed round to the house. She told me the bad news - there is no cure for monkey flu!!! I would have to look after my monkeys and keep them warm, and if I was lucky, two or three of them might survive to see tomorrow!!

Well, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I had a horrible day. I spent the whole time tending to my little darlings, only to be rewarded with seeing them dropping like flies!! As I told you, I lost four or five macaques to the monkey flu in the morning. I was extremely upset, and cried my eyes out. I was helpless with remorse. I wailed and screamed, cursing the day that God had invented being poorly.

I was not myself.

By teatime, the monkeys were all sleeping, coughing in their troubled slumber, the sound of mucus rattling in their poorly monkey throats as they snored. I was pleased that they were finally getting some respite form the crippling fever which had reduced them all to delerium. One of the baby spider monkeys had been tearing about on the curtains, his little monkey face a rictus of fear! Something which appeared to him in his fever had driven him mad, and no amount of coaxing would bring him down.

Coaxing is one thing, but a catapult is quite another, and it was the work of a moment to bring him back to earth with a well-aimed ballbearing. Even worse than the fever was the fact that many of them were off their honey, and when I tried to offer them my nipple, they would turn away and sigh. That's never happened before - things were looking very grave.

At about seven o'clock, Richie rang to see how I was. I was a bit short with him, and told him that I was far from alright, as my monkey babies were dying of flu, and I was helpless to save them. He went a bit quiet, and then asked if he could come and stay tonight. I didn't even dignify him with a response. Oooh! Sometimes, that man...

I couldn't go to sleep anyhow. My little ones needed me!!! I drank three cups of coffee, three cans of Red Bull and a can of Mountain Dew that I found at the back of the fridge. Ten minutes later I was wide awake, and ready to face the world!!! Well, face my poorly monkeys anyway!!!

I did the rounds, checking that they were all feeling better, and I managed to do it really quick, so I had a sit down. But I couldn't sit down, and my leg was going jiggle-jiggle-jiggle like this, so I grabbed the nearest baby chimp to comfort him. I squeezed a bit hard and the chimp broke I was a bit sad and I ran outside and put the chimp in the bin but then I went inside to help the other chimps but they were trying to sleep and I got irritable and had to run around and dance but that woke them up so then they were all crying and snuffling so I had to go outside again to get some quiet. Then I got a bit more calm, and went back indoors.

I spent the next few hours tending to my little ones, and singing them soothing lullabies and a selection of slow numbers from my forthcoming album. It got very dark outside, and I was a little bit frightened, so I went to close the curtains.

As I was shutting the window, all of a sudden something tiny flew into the room and started buzzing around the light!!! I left the window open, and grabbed a copy of Smash Hits! from the table. Rolling it up, I chased the little creature around the room!!! It might try to take advantage of my babies while they were in their weakened state!!

I ran around and around the room, scattering chairs and tables that were in the way. I'm afraid to say that I knocked over a couple of the monkey's cribs, but they were only bruised, and I noticed a little gibbon rubbing his head and looking sleepy and confused. The little creature that I was chasing started to get tired, and I could see that he was trying to find somewhere safe to land. Eventually, he plopped down on my book that I was reading (Regeneration by Pat Barker - it knocks spots off the film adaptation!!!). Plop!!

As I crept up to kill the creature, I noticed that it was a little beetle, with a shiny black shell. A beetle at large in my room! Very quietly I stalked towards him, and raised my copy of Smash Hits! to dash the tiny insect to pieces!!! I was about to swing my mighty arm, when I noticed that the little fellow was shivering, and all of a sudden I heard a high-pitched shout: "Don't hurt me!!!" It was the beetle!! He was talking to me!

"I didn't know that beetles could talk!" I exclaimed.

"We can! Oh, we can Miss Billie!!", he said.


"Please don't hurt me Miss Billie!! I am only small!!!", the little chap squeaked.

I bent down closer to see the beetle closer. He was stood on his hind legs and waving his antennae.

"I didn't know that beetles could talk!" I exclaimed.

"We can! Oh, we can Miss Billie!!", he said. He was still shivering. I remembered why I was angry with him.

"Well, why did you fly in here and frighten my monkeys?" I said. I was trying to sound cross, but I'm not very good at it.

"I'm sorry, Miss Billie!! It's just that I was so c-c-cold outside, and it looked so warm in here. I'm a tropical beetle, and England is too cold for me." His tiny mandibles chattered. One of the monkeys sneezed. "What's wrong with your monkeys, Miss Billie?" asked the beetle.

I sniffed. "They've all got monkey flu. I'm very sad." And a tear left my eye and rolled down my beautiful young cheek.

"Monkey flu?" said the beetle. "That's not a problem."

"How would you know, you silly little insect?" I retorted.

"Because I have escaped from the Institute, where they were using my beetle brothers to cure monkey flu!"

I fell off my chair!! "What?!!"

"It's true, Miss Billie!! Apparently, if I bite a monkey with monkey flu, it gets better straight away!!"

"Really? That's very convenient!"

"It is, isn't it?", the beetle said, and shrugged. Then he wobbled and fell over. "Oh Miss Billie, I am so cold!!"

"Wait there one moment," I said, and dashed over to my desk.

* * * * *

When I returned, I was cupping something in my hand. The beetle had passed out, and I had to breathe on him to wake him up. When he saw what I had made for him, he jumped for joy on his little segmented hind legs!!!

"Oh, thank you Miss Billie!! A fine blue jerkin and a pair of smart red breeches. And small enough to keep me warm!!" He looked so happy that I thought he would pass out again!!

"Careful, little fellow!!", I chuckled. I helped the beetle into his brand new outfit and watched as he admired himself in a jam jar lid. "You look quite the dashing little thing!" I said, and he beamed at me with his insect face before flying over to the first baby monkey. Then he flew from monkey to monkey, biting them on their faces, hands, bellies and oh! most everywhere!!!

Slowly, they all began to wake form their fevered delerium as the potent beetle spit went to work on their ravaged monkey systems. I was so happy, and so grateful to my new friend for saving my little ones!! I opened the window and waved goodbye to him as he flew away in his smart new clothes, but not until he had promised to come and visit me again.

So that is what happened!!!

I was very tired (it was three o'clock in the morning!!! Goodness!!!), but managed to smile with weak joy as I watched the surviving 33 monkeys stir and yawn. They looked better already!

"Oh, I do love you all!" I sighed and collapsed into bed. I slept like a lovely old log.

* * * * *

The next morning, I woke to find all my little monkey children curled around me. They must have been scared after their ordeal, what with losing so many of their friends and family and that. Bless!

I got out of bed, yawning, and saw a strange thing - all the monkey cribs were bare, and all the special monkey blankets that Richie had bought were in a pile in the corner! No-one could have taken them off but the monkeys! Hmm, I thought, they must have gone off them. I suppose they were a bit scratchy.

Then I was disturbed by 33 hungry monkeys calling for their breakfast!!! I unbuttoned my jim-jams top and smilingly offered myself to the two hungriest chimps. Ahhhh! They're frantic suckling was a sure sign that everything was all right again!!!


All my l-o-v-e!!!

Billie xxx

PS Don't miss the next exciting installment of Creatures Galore!, where you can read all about my bathtime adventures!!!!

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Billie appears courtesy of faber and faber.