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You can do this

Nell: Stop pacing around. Your interview with BBC Radio Devon isn’t until 11:10am.

Me: I’m not sure I can do this, Nell.

Nell: Of course you can.

Me: What if I say something stupid?

Nell: It won’t be the first time, or the last.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: We all make mistakes.

Me: Even you?

Nell: My mistakes are few and far between but they still happen. Occasionally. Why are you wearing your best dress? It’s a radio interview.

Me: It gives me confidence.

Nell: Well, comfortable is important too, so slippers are fine. Have you eaten your breakfast? I know Poppy prepared something tasty for you.

Me: I just had a banana. I couldn’t face anything cooked.

Nell: Now that’s rather odd because I saw David carrying a tray with scrambled eggs on toast upstairs a while ago.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He probably ate it by mistake. It’s the thought that counts.

Nell: No, it isn’t. If someone is hungry and you’ve eaten their breakfast your good intentions won’t mean anything to them at all.

Me: Well, I’m not hungry anyway.

Nell: I suppose two breakfasts won’t harm him. He has a big day today, too.

Me: Why?

Nell: Didn’t you hear? Walter brought back a note from Stephen Seagull to say he would be calling on David this afternoon.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Benjamin is in quite a state. He’s changed tank tops twice and it’s not even 9am.

Me: Is he going to the meeting then?

Nell: Of course he is. It’s a mediation between Benjamin and Stephen.

Me: I’m afraid Benjamin is going to lose.

Nell: Not necessarily. Don’t count your biscuits until you’ve seen the bowl. Now just try and relax. It will all be fine.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Waiting for Walter

Me: Dave is outside staring at the sky.

Nell: I know.

Me: Yes, but Walter isn’t even there so he can’t be playing Cheeky Animals.

Nell: He isn’t.

Me: You never just tell me, do you? I always have to ask.

Nell: It might be confidential. I’m not like the cows you know. I don’t gossip.

Me: So why is Dave gazing at the sky?

Nell: He’s waiting for news.

Me: Now you’re being really annoying. It could be news about anything.

Nell: Yes, I suppose it could.

Me: News about what?

Nell: The intervention. Benjamin Beefy cannot continue in his present role.

Me: As a travelling salesbird?

Nell: As a Beefy. He needs to become Benjamin Seagull.

Me: I completely agree. If the product was a bit nicer he might have continued but Gull No. 5 smells awful.

Nell: That is not the point. Benjamin is not cut out to be a member of an evil gang. He’s too nice.

Me: Yes, he is. Honestly, when he and Malcolm are together they could be twins. All those ‘Excuse me’s’ and ‘Would you mind’s?’

Nell: Malcolm is a flamingo.

Me: I didn’t mean identical twins.

Nell: Never mind. Anyway, David has taken on the role of Mediator. As the Daily Growl’s new agony uncle he is well placed to give advice.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Walter has kindly agreed to deliver a message to Stephen Seagull asking for a meeting.

Me: A meeting here?

Nell: No. In David’s consulting room.

Me: You mean Kev’s garage.

Nell: Don’t split bears. You know exactly what I mean.

Me: Don’t you mean split hairs?

Nell: Certainly not. What on earth have hares got to do with it? Everyone knows bears like to stay in twos.

Me: I didn’t. Sorry.

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Thinking Big

Me: I can’t believe Poppy won the sock game. Dave is about five times her size.

Nell: Poppy is extraordinarily strong and extremely determined.

Me: You’re right there.

Nell: Although it’s actually all about Attitude.

Me: Attitude?

Nell: Yes. Poppy Thinks Big.

Me: I know she does.

Nell: Do you remember when that Dachshund from Dartmouth was courting her?

Me: Not really.

Nell: Well, she was having none of it. ‘Derek’s a nice enough Dachshund,’ she said. ‘But I have my eyes on that Doberman.’

Me: John the Doberman?

Nell: Exactly. The next thing we knew John was outside the house with a bunch of flowers.

Me: That’s Poppy for you.

Nell: It is. She sees something and she goes out and gets it.

Me: Yes, she certainly does.

Nell: Nobody argues with Poppy.

Me: To be fair, Nell, she does have a sword.

Nell: Yes, but she rarely has to use it.

Me: I’m surprised she lent it to Knitwear Wolf for the Pirate Wars.

Nell: Yes, well Rupert is another force of nature. But in a completely different way.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: He’s quietly charismatic.

Me: He’s such an admirable wolf.

Nell: Yes. He’s someone you wouldn’t want to disappoint.

Me: Like a noble king.

Nell: In a way. People definitely listen to him.

Me: Talking of listening I enjoyed Laberace’s performance yesterday.

Nell: His playing was excellent but did we need that candelabra?

Me: It set the mood.

Nell: Poppy has invited him to Sunday lunch. Roast beef and all the trimmings.

Me: He’ll need that after Sunday Songs.

Nell: Why? Was he performing?

Me: Yes, with the Welsh corgi choir. Didn’t you hear them singing ‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows’?

Nell: Just tell me the llamas weren’t dancing?

Me: Yes, waving rainbow scarves. Sorry.

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How presumptuous

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: These Pirate Wars are getting completely out of paw.

Me: I think we’re all just having fun, Nell. We need to after the last few months.

Nell: Yes, well everyone is certainly joining in.

Me: I know. I saw PC Panda in a pirate’s hat having a quick scone with the larger animals.

Nell: He’s the least of our worries.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Zsa Zsa The Paw has a famous new gentleman friend. I met them when I was in town.

Me: She’s bound to have admirers.

Nell: He’s a little flamboyant to say the least.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: He makes The Cat look discreet.

Me: Hard to believe.

Nell: He blew me a kiss and called me ‘Fab-u-lous!’

Me: Well, you are.

Nell: I’m a mature lady Labrador.

Me: He sounds fun. I like him already.

Nell: Well, that’s fortunate because he’s invited himself to a pirate tea and he’s bringing his piano.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: I mean who does that?

Me: Does what?

Nell: Invites themselves to tea and brings a huge musical instrument with them? It’s presumptuous.

Me: Is he a cat?

Nell: Of course he’s not a cat. He’s an extremely famous dog.

Me: So he’s a celebrity?

Nell: Yes. His name is Laberace. You must have heard of him.

Me: Does he wear a high necked sparkling cloak and have dyed black hair?

Nell: Don’t be silly. He’s a curly haired Labradoodle.

Me: Oh,

Nell: He was wearing a feathered hat when I last saw him. What’s a high necked cloak anyway? That doesn’t even make sense.

Me: But he plays piano?

Nell: Yes. Rather well, actually.

Me: I can’t wait to meet him. Sorry.

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Look who’s back

Me: Was that Dave I heard singing this morning?

Nell: Yes. David is practising sea shanties. He’s still hoping to join Tony’s crew.

Me: Wasn’t it lovely to see those two reunited again? He missed Tony so much while he was away on holiday.

Nell: I know. I’m afraid David doesn’t have any concept of time. As far as he’s concerned Tony has been away for weeks and weeks.

Me: You’re all a bit like that, Nell. You get over excited when Kev comes back from the studio.

Nell: That is just Showing Appreciation. It’s one of our greatest skills. There is nothing worse than a Disinterested Dog.

Me: I can’t even imagine it. I don’t think I’ve ever met one.

Nell: It’s rare to see. I once knew a Lapsang Souchong who was dreadfully aloof but in the main it is something one only finds in cats.

Me: Don’t you mean Lhasa Apso? Lapsang Souchong is a type of tea.

Nell: Maybe I do. Anyway, it had something of a cat about it.

Me: Talking of cats why is The Cat walking around in thigh boots and a feathered hat?

Nell: It’s these wretched Pirate Wars.

Me: Pirate Wars?

Nell: Stephen Seagull started it and now everyone seems to be joining in.

Me: Did I see Henry wearing an eye patch?

Nell: Probably. He and Horst have been riding around in David’s hat behaving badly.

Me: Well, I’m delighted to see Knitwear Wolf joining in.

Nell: I’m surprised at Rupert. He sat down to breakfast this morning in a loose white shirt, breeches and a long curly wig.

Me: He’s just letting his hair down, Nell.

Nell: Very funny.

Me: Have you heard any good pirate jokes lately?

Nell: No.

Me: Neither have ayyyye.

Nell; Good grief.

Me: Sorry.

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Outrageous

Nell: It’s outrageous.

Me: What are you reading?

Nell: The Daily Growl.

Me: What does it say?

Nell: ‘National celebrity Stephen Seagull, pictured here with friends, delights viewers around the world with his clever antics.’

Me: Viewers around the world?

Nell: Utter nonsense. It was only BBC Devon. Stephen was caught on camera stealing crisps from a shop in Exmouth and now he thinks he’s a national celebrity.

Me: Or an international celebrity. I like his hat.

Nell: He isn’t even a real pirate.

Me: Well, he sort of is, Nell. In his own way.

Nell: At least it explains why the Beefies are wearing striped t-shirts and eye patches this morning.

Me: I did wonder. I see Romeo is wearing Dave’s old black wig again.

Nell: Who calls a seagull Romeo anyway? Ridiculous.

Me: I think it suits him and he’s tied his hair back today with a lovely ribbon.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes. I really do.

Me: I hope they aren’t going to force Benjamin to be a pirate.

Nell: Probably. What on earth are they doing now?

Me: Who?

Nell: The llamas. They’re sword fighting.

Me: Really?

Nell: In feathered hats. I’m not watching this nonsense.

Me: Let me see. How exciting. Gladys has just joined them with Alejandro and the larger animals.

Nell: The world has gone mad.

Me: You’re not going to believe this but Knitwear Wolf is in the middle of it all in a long coat waving a sword. He looks amazing.

Nell: Please tell me I can’t hear the Welsh corgi choir?

Me: Yes. They’re at the top of the hill.

Nell: Waving swords?

Me: No. Little cutlasses.

Nell: All we need now is the Whippets Institute.

Me: They’re just parking the minibus.

Nell: I give up.

Me: Sorry.

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Unacceptable

Nell: This is unacceptable.

Me: Why are you three waiting at the bottom of the stairs?

Nell: The gate is closed.

Me: That’s my fault.

Nell: We thought as much.

Me: I had some difficult re-writing to do and I had to concentrate so I asked Kev to close the gate.

Nell: You know perfectly well that we all come upstairs in the morning to welcome you into the day and offer our support.

Me: Yes. I appreciate that but Dave’s support can be a bit heavy. He sits on me.

Nell: It’s all part of a new therapy apparently. The heaviness of David is reassuring.

Me: Yes, but it’s ever so hard to write when you’re being squashed.

Nell: Actually a number of his clients have mentioned the squashing. Henry and Horst have started wearing armour.

Me: Why do Henry and Horst need counselling?

Nell: It’s that wretched butterfly again. Toying with their affections.

Me: Oh dear. Why is Benjamin wearing sunglasses? Is he incognito?

Nell: Certainly not. He doesn’t drink. He’s in disguise.

Me: That’s what I meant. He’s not hoping to be a spy, is he?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Benjamin isn’t spy material.

Me: People thought that about Harriet.

Nell: No, rumour has it that Stephen Seagull is in town and Benjamin doesn’t want to fly into him.

Me: I thought the Beefies were rather noisy this morning.

Nell: Those Kiss me Quick hats are getting on my nerves. Who wants to kiss a seagull?

Me: The tourists love it. They are always taking photos of them.

Nell: Yes and leaving their chips and ice creams unguarded.

Me: Clever.

Nell: Did David just walk past carrying my handbag?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Can I smell bacon?

Me: He has to put the sandwiches somewhere, Nell. Sorry.

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Hattie Button

Me: What are you three doing?

Nell: We are playing Sliding off the Bed. David always wins. I don’t know why I bother.

Me: Clever Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: There is nothing clever about it. He just stretches out and slides off. Harriet and I have to wriggle.

Me: You look more asleep than wriggly to me. At least Harriet is trying.

Nell: Why are you interrupting our game anyway ? You seem excited.

Me: I’ve got something to show you. Look at these photos.

Nell: Who is that small fluffy creature?

Me: It’s Hattie Button.

Nell: Hattie Button? Is she one of the Barnstaple Buttons?

Me: I don’t think so.

Nell: She looks very young and very curly.

Me: Yes. She’s a chocolate cockapoo. She is only 8 weeks old.

Nell: You haven’t done anything silly have you? We really don’t have any room.

Me: No. She belongs to my sister Alex.

Nell: Dogs never just belong. We choose. Do keep up. Belonging works both ways. I’ve told you this before.

Me: Yes. You are right. Anyway, Hattie Button is your new little cousin.

Nell: Another youngster in the family and a chocolate one, too. Harriet is going to be delighted.

Me: Yes, bless her.

Nell: Have you put that interview with the American lady on our page yet?

Me: Kev helped me make a YouChewed channel so I’ll post the link to it later.

Nell: Good. Now, I would steer clear of Poppy this morning.

Me: Did Dave make another mistake?

Nell: David is involved and so is bacon, but not in the usual way.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: David’s clients have eaten all our bacon. Poppy is rushed off her paws.

Me: I only had one sandwich. And it did help.

Nell: You did?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Give Sidney a call

Me: Do you have a moment?

Nell: It depends. If Zsa Zsa The Paw wants me to look at another sequinned cardigan then I’m not available.

Me: She isn’t here yet.

Nell: Why Rupert can’t just zoom with her I do not know.

Me: Knitwear Wolf prefers face to face meetings. He’s not one of those techie wolves.

Nell: Why do they need my input anyway? The Cat will be there and Gladys.

Me: Yes, but they’re both a bit sparkly. I think Knitwear Wolf wants your sensible opinion.

Nell: I suppose I am more classic in my tastes. Do you know Valerie suggested I drink nettle tea? Nettle tea? Unbelievable.

Me: It’s ever so good for you, Nell and it doesn’t sting.

Nell: Earl Grey is fine with me thank you very much. What’s the matter with you? Monday blues?

Me: I’m having a crisis of confidence.

Nell: Good grief. Go and join the queue outside David’s consulting room then.

Me: I didn’t know Dave had a consulting room.

Nell: It’s Kev’s garage. He’s lending it to David as a temporary solution.

Me: I’d rather talk to you, Nell.

Nell: Well, what is it?

Me: I’ve got two interviews next month with BBC Radio Devon and Cambridge 105 about the book. What if I run out of words?

Nell: That’s never going to happen. You did that interview with the nice American lady.

Me: Yes. Donna Seebo. She loved the book.

Nell: Of course she did. I thought you were posting a link to the interview on our page.

Me: Yes. I just need to work out how to do it.

Nell: Give Sidney a call. He’ll know.

Me: Sidney the spider? Does he know about interviews?

Nell: No. He’s a web designer. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.