the birth of bottle moments
A message from our founder, Kevin Dutton.
On the evening of April17th 2020, as deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic approached their peak here in the UK, I was speaking to a friend of mine on Zoom. She was a nurse, working on the front line in a Covid ward in a major London hospital, and had just come off a 12- hour shift.
To be honest, I felt inadequate. I’d known this woman for over twenty years. But suddenly, sitting there in front of my screen, I saw her in a different light. She was a war hero. An angel. My protector. I felt tongue-tied, like a teenager whisked off backstage after a concert to meet their favourite band member.
I don’t really recall much of what we talked about that night. But I do recall asking her this:
“What are you most looking forward to when all this is over?”
She looked away, looked down, covered her face with her hands, and burst into a flood of tears. Deep, hot, heavy tears of fear, desolation and exhaustion.
“I just want to hug my mum and dad,” she said, her whole body shaking uncontrollably.
How I wished I could’ve hugged her that night.
This may sound like a trite admission but it isn’t. Ending that Zoom call was one of the hardest things I’ve done. But once I’d got rid of the speck of dust in my eye I thought about the matter at length. What would I give, I asked myself, to be able to fast track my friend’s dream of hugging her mum and dad, to bottle that moment, so she could uncork it whenever she wanted? And not just her dream, her moment, but the dreams and moments of other frontline workers just like her up and down the country. Other people’s friends. Other people’s angels. Other people’s protectors.
The next morning, I picked up the phone to a friend of mine, Rob Murray. Rob is one of the UK’s top cartoonists who regularly contributes to Private Eye and the Sunday Times. “How would you feel,” I asked him, “if we were to put out a call on social media inviting key workers to share their Bottle Moments with us – the things they most want to do when lockdown is over: loved ones they long to see, treasured places and hobbies they can’t wait to revisit, events put on hold – and then we enshrine them for them in simple, fun cartoons?”
Rob didn’t hesitate.
“I’m up for that!” he said.
So we did.
Bottle Moments was born on the spot.
A student nurse who couldn’t wait to be reunited with the dog that she’d left at her parents’ house just before lockdown; a GP longed for the day that she could take to the stage again with her local orchestra and play the clarinet. As keyworkers continued to dream, Rob continued to draw. As our output increased, our media exposure increased. We started receiving hundreds of requests on social media that we just couldn't keep up with them all. I started to realise that we'd created something a lot more special than we'd first thought.
During the UK's first Covid-19 lockdown, Rob managed to bring to life 300 dreams. Almost a year on, as the UK struggles with the weight of an even more deadly second wave, our Bottle Moments Team has grown so that we can capture even more of these special moments for members of the British public.
Covid-19, someday, will have its day. But Bottle Moments, we hope, will live on. Bright, cheerful, personal, and meaningful, these snapshots of lives in happier times – times past yet still to come – have a place on the walls not just of nursing stations and doctors’ surgeries but of care homes, prison cells, cancer wards, homeless shelters, not to mention in the kitbags of those members of our armed forces serving abroad.
Bottle Moments is a recipe for rainbows. And we all need a rainbow sometimes.