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Weak Animal

Me: What on earth are Poppy and Dave doing with Tony?

Nell: Playing ‘Weak Animal’.

Me: ‘Weak Animal’? What’s that?

Nell: We play it with you all the time.

Me: No, you don’t. I’ve never played ‘Weak Animal’ in my life.

Nell: When we lie down and lift a weak paw have you ever talked in a baby voice and stroked our tummies?

Me: I’ve done that.

Nell: Exactly. Do keep up.

Me: But Tony is behind the gate.

Nell: Yes, that’s why Poppy was helping. She was encouraging David to stretch his leg as high as he could without leaving the ground.

Me: Why?

Nell: You can only win ‘Weak Animal’ if you are stroked from a lying down position.

Me: Did he manage it?

Nell: Yes. Tony stretched too. He’s a good player.

Me: Has anyone ever lost ‘Weak Animal’?

Nell: Insects don’t do well. Llamas are excellent at it, of course.

Me: How are the llamas, by the way?

Nell: Fully recovered. Back in pyjamas with no hats, or a trace of a Welsh accent.

Me: That’s a relief. What about Sidney?

Nell: He’s back to his usual friendly self again but decided to stay on the Isle of Wight.

Me: Why?

Nell: He was looking for a new client base anyway and he enjoys the quiet.

Me: What does he do? Web design?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Sidney is a psychotherapist.

Me: I’m not sure I would go and see a spider.

Nell: Of course you wouldn’t. You’re not a troubled arachnid.

Me: But what if he turns bad again?

Nell: He’s not going to. The Hunter is imprisoned. Stop fussing.

Me: Do cats play ‘Weak Animal’?

Nell: Yes. But under a different name.

Me: What is it?

Nell: ‘Come here, Slave.’

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Forgiveness is all

Nell: David would like to apologise for a mistake he might have made yesterday.

Me: You mean eating my sardines on toast?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Through the back of the chair?

Nell: Yes. He was a little too keen to help with the clearing up. It’s an easy mistake to make.

Me: I’m surprised you’re defending him, Nell.

Nell: At Morning Thoughts we were discussing the importance of Forgiveness and I thought I should lead by example.

Me: I hadn’t finished.

Nell: To be fair to David you should not have walked away from the plate.

Me: I went to get some more tonic water.

Nell: You have three Labradors and a Maltese cross. You cannot walk away from food.

Me: I suppose it was a little naive of me.

Nell: Exactly. But don’t worry we forgive you.

Me: Hang on a minute, Nell. You can’t turn this around. I’m not the one who needs forgiving here.

Nell: Anyway, the good news is that the book is starting to be delivered across the US now and the UK will hopefully follow next month.

Me: Yes, I’m ever so pleased. I know people have been waiting for ages and I’m so grateful for their support.

Nell: We need to ask people to rate it, though, as the stars really matter, and leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads as this will help us greatly.

Me: It really will but I don’t like asking. It’s so pushy.

Nell: Good grief. Just let everyone help you get it out there. These are difficult times.

Me: Dave still shouldn’t have eaten my sardines. I haven’t forgotten about it.

Nell: Forgiveness is all. Just move on. Another day. Another sardine.

Me: I can’t believe you just said that.

Nell: Mistakes happen.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Dominic who?

Nell: Who on earth is Dominic Cummings?

Me: You don’t want to know.

Nell: He’s everywhere.

Me: Yes. That’s part of the problem.

Nell: You can’t open a newspaper without seeing him.

Me: I know.

Nell: I thought it was that awful Dominic Simmons at first.

Me: Who?

Nell: You know Dominic Simmons.

Me: Do I?

Nell: The Siamese jeweller with a whiny voice.

Me: Wasn’t he a friend of The Cat’s?

Nell: An acquaintance, not a friend. The Cat introduced him to us. We were invited to dinner and the wretched creature tried to sell us some highly suspect pieces.

Me: Really?

Nell: It was like an unexpected Tupperware party but at least you know you are going to one of those.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I seem to remember David was tempted by a gold chain and Poppy was rather keen on a jewel encrusted dagger but fortunately they resisted.

Me: Weren’t the jewels fake?

Nell: Yes, Dominic was what some would call ‘dodgy’ and ended up being blackmailed by the Beefies. Those creatures get their beaks into everything.

Me: Talking of Beefies was there any attempt to free Lady Anwen?

Nell: No. PC Panda said the journey was fairly straightforward. They discovered some tainted bacon hidden under her hat but it was removed before any damage could be done.

Me: I don’t think Dave should ever wear a gold chain. He’s not that kind of dog.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: You said he was tempted by Dominic Simmons.

Nell: David has always enjoyed dressing up. When I think about some of the outfits he and Gladys have worn.

Me: I don’t think you should criticise. You’ve been known to wear the odd tiara.

Nell: Only when required and always discreetly.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

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All’s well that ends well

Me: Harriet’s hiding in the bushes.

Nell: I know. We have various operatives hidden throughout the property until PC Panda arrives.

Me: Is that why Gladys is wearing dark glasses and a raincoat?

Nell: No. That’s just a fashion statement.

Me: Why did Dave and Harriet bring Myfanwy and Lady Anwen back here?

Nell: David says he knew I would sort everything out because I always do.

Me: True.

Nell: And The Queen agrees.

Me: The Queen?

Nell: Yes. She joined us at Morning Thoughts.

Me: She did?

Nell: Yes. Via zoom. Do keep up.

Me: You could have told me.

Nell: You were writing. You know perfectly well that nobody is allowed to disturb you.

Me: So what’s next?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf insists that the real Myfanwy is still in there so we shall try and get her back.

Me: How?

Nell: No Good Boyo is sending a couple of Welsh Border Terriers to take her to Lampeter.

Me: That’s in the middle of nowhere.

Nell: Yes, but Auntie Gwen will sort her out.

Me: What about Lady Anwen?

Nell: She’s past saving.

Me: Barking mad?

Nell: Yes. I am rather annoyed but that corgi is completely unhinged. She’s going to Dartmoor Prison. PC Panda is collecting her later.

Me: She’ll still be in Devon, though.

Nell: Yes. We believe the Beefies will try and free her and Sally thinks Sven Gully is involved so we may trap a Beefy, or two.

Me: Excellent.

Nell: In the meantime the Welsh corgi choir are performing Sunday songs in the hope that they will warm Myfanwy’s heart before she leaves.

Me: So all’s well that ends well.

Nell: It will be when I’ve had some hot buttered toast and a cup of Earl Grey. Could you pour please?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part Three

Me: I’m so glad you’re home, Nell. It’s been terrible without you.

Nell: Well, I’m safe now. Where are David and Harriet?

Me: I thought they were with you. Tell me what happened, please.

Nell: Well, Owl Pacino and The Cat took us to the big boat. From there we could see what was happening on the beach.

Me: Go on.

Nell: Myfanwy started screaming and suddenly a whole battalion of bad tempered boxers appeared on the horizon.

Me: No.

Nell: Then a Rolls Royce pulled into the car park and Lady Anwen got out dragging a polite flamingo on a lead.

Me: Not Malcolm?

Nell: Yes. He had secretly joined Count Bingo’s team. Poppy jumped out of the Chinook brandishing her sword and the larger animals surrounded her. Quite easily it must be said.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Poppy shouted ‘Release the flamingo. Your bacon is useless. He’s a pescatarian.’

Me: She’s so fierce.

Nell: Lady Anwen laughed nastily and that’s when the puppies made their move.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: There was a squealing of tyres as David drove in on Knitwear Wolf’s motorbike with Harriet in the sidecar. He zoomed up to Lady Anwen and snatched the lead out of her paws freeing Malcolm.

Me: Go Davey boy!

Nell: Davey boy? Good grief. Where was I?

Me: Malcolm was free.

Nell: Yes. Malcolm flew towards Poppy while David circled round Lady Anwen on the motorbike allowing Poppy to usher everyone to safety in the helicopter.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: As soon as he saw they were safe David drove off with Harriet.

Me: But where are they now?

Nell: Wait, is that a motorbike?

Me: Yes, it’s Dave with Harriet sitting behind him.

Nell: Who’s in the sidecar then?

Me: Lady Anwen and Myfanwy. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part Two

Me: Are you ok, Nell? We were cut off. Tell me everything.

Nell: The bad tempered boxer came back with my ice cream so I took Henry over to Rupert and Myfanwy on the beach. They were deep in conversation.

Me: In Welsh?

Nell: No, Rupert wasn’t really drugged. Unlike Horst who sent an SOS to Henry.

Me: The tainted bacon was in Rupert’s sporran with Horst. Poor woodlouse.

Nell: Exactly. We needed to get him out.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I had to think on my paws, so I said ‘Rupert, I’ve been thinking of getting David a sporran for quite some time. Could I take a look at yours?’

Me: Clever.

Nell: I thought so. Myfanwy gave me a hard stare and as Rupert handed it over I accidentally dropped it and Horst and the bacon fell out.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Rupert was quick to save Horst but Myfanwy saw the bacon.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: She started shouting ‘You deceiving wolf. You didn’t eat the bacon. You’re not bad at all.’

Me: He isn’t.

Nell: But he was supposed to be.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Anyway, that’s when the Welsh corgi choir started singing.

Me: What?

Nell: They were all lined up on the big boat. ‘Delilah’ wasn’t the best song choice but it distracted Myfanwy. She simply had to join in.

Me: Singing is a Welsh thing. We can’t help it.

Nell: Rupert grabbed me and we ran into the sea. I thought all was lost.

Me: No.

Nell: And that’s when I saw them.

Me: Who?

Nell: The Cat and Owl Pacino in a beautiful pea-green boat coming to rescue us.

Me: But The Cat is absolutely terrified of water.

Nell: We are all much braver than we think.

Me: Yes, we are. Sorry.

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The Rescue. Part One.

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might. Is it safe for you to talk?

Nell: Yes, Henry and I are in a car down at the beach. The chauffeur is a rather bad tempered boxer but he’s gone to fetch me an ice cream.

Me: Excellent. The plan was to get you to the beach as that increases our options.

Nell: Well, I hope none of them include riding away on an alpaca because I’ve just seen Gladys in a sombrero on the back of Alejandro.

Me: Good. Poppy must have landed. She flew up in the helicopter with the larger animals.

Nell: I thought Rupert’s choice of outfit was unusual but a hatted Pomeranian on an alpaca takes the biscuit.

Me: Distraction techniques. What is Rupert wearing then?

Nell: A kilt. Henry and Horst were in his sporran.

Me: So where is everyone now?

Nell: I’m fairly sure the Royal Owl Force just flew past and there are a group of flamingos in the lake that definitely weren’t there yesterday.

Me: That’ll be Count Bingo.

Nell: I guessed. There’s also some kind of suspicious looking pirate ship on the horizon captained by a large seal wearing a tiara with a penguin in the crow’s nest carrying a film camera.

Me: Good, but I meant the baddies. Where is Lady Anwen?

Nell: She is back at Osborne House. Rupert ate a bacon sandwich soon after he arrived and has been speaking Welsh ever since so she thought it would be safe for us to accompany Myfanwy to the beach.

Me: Oh no. Not bacon.

Nell: He didn’t really eat it. He put it in his sporran.

Me: But he’s speaking Welsh.

Nell: He’s copying Horst. All woodlice speak Welsh. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Don’t rock the boat

Me: Are you able to talk?

Nell: Let me excuse myself for a moment.

Me: Ok. Can you talk now?

Nell: Yes. I’m not in London.

Me: We know.

Nell: Good, because I’m at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Lady Anwen told me The Queen was staying here.

Me: You know that isn’t true, don’t you?

Nell: Yes, I do. The wretched bacon has worn off completely now.

Me: Try not to worry. We were able to track you on Find My iBone and help is on its way.

Nell: How?

Me: Rupert set off this morning on his motorbike with Henry and Horst. The others are following by helicopter and boat.

Nell: I don’t think there has to be a land, sea and air rescue.

Me: There does when it’s you, Nell. Absolutely everybody wants to help rescue you.

Nell: How kind.

Me: Joyce is coordinating from Devon, Sally from London and No Good Boyo from Wales.

Nell: But I’m on the Isle of Wight. You don’t need the whole of the UK involved.

Me: I don’t think Scotland and Northern Ireland are involved.

Nell: They still think I’m drugged but I’m not sure I can keep it up for much longer. I don’t understand a word they’re saying when they speak Welsh.

Me: Rupert should arrive today. His cover is that is he’s trying to win Myfanwy back.

Nell: Clever.

Me: Once there, Henry will conceal himself with you and can report back to Horst who will stay with Rupert.

Nell: Thank goodness for Welsh speaking woodlice.

Me: Just don’t rock the boat as we need time to get to you and please wear a hat.

Nell: I’ll steer clear of boats but I refuse to wear a Welsh hat.

Me: You might have to. Sorry.

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Gone

Me: Nell, thank goodness you called. Where are you? Dave’s barking at the window and Harriet refuses to leave his side.

Nell: Yes. I thought I had better phone even though they told me not to. I’m on my way to London.

Me: What?

Nell: Don’t fuss. Myfanwy is with me and so is Sidney.

Me: No. You have to come back now.

Nell: Lady Anwen kindly sent a car to collect us. She says The Queen is looking forward to seeing me.

Me: The Queen isn’t in London. She’s at Windsor Castle. It’s a trick, Nell.

Nell: Nonsense. I received the invitation yesterday with the royal seal.

Me: Why didn’t you tell me?

Nell: She asked me not to. I was told expressly to keep everything hush hush.

Me: I can’t believe you kept this a secret.

Nell: One doesn’t argue with The Queen.

Me: But it wasn’t really The Queen, Nell. Lady Anwen is behind all of this. She’s The Hunter.

Nell: I despair of you sometimes. I really do. Myfanwy won’t believe this when I tell her.

Me: Don’t tell Myfanwy. She’s part of it, too.

Nell: Honestly, you need to keep that imagination of yours under control.

Me: I’ve been talking to Joyce and Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: And?

Me: We have good reason to believe that Lady Anwen and Myfanwy are working with the Beefies.

Nell: Ridiculous.

Me: You’re in great danger. We think you’ve been exposed to tainted bacon.

Nell: I only ate a little.

Me: Roedd yn ddigon.

Nell: Speak English not gobbledygook.

Me: Good. It seems to be wearing off. I’ll call you back when I’ve spoken to the others.

Nell: Perhaps sooner rather than later.

Me: Just try and act normally until then.

Nell: Easy for you to say.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Galar da!

Me: What is Dave doing?

Nell: There’s a suspected undercover Beefy in the bushes so David is Keeping an Eye on it.

Me: Are you sure my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is the right animal for the job?

Nell: He knows social distancing must be maintained.

Me: Fair enough. Is it speaking in Welsh?

Nell: We don’t know yet.

Me: Talking of Welsh.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Something is bothering me.

Nell: Wibli Wobli is not a jellyfish.

Me: I never knew you could speak Welsh.

Nell: I can’t.

Me: But you can. You know the words for jellyfish, and bacon, and being bad.

Nell: They just came to me.

Me: The thing is, Nell, that Welsh isn’t really a language that just comes to you.

Nell: What are you trying to say?

Me: Well, I think you might need to consider the possibility, only a small one of course, but still..

Nell: Oh, do get on with it. Mumbling away. ‘Galar da!’

Me: See. You’re doing it again.

Nell: What?

Me: You just said ‘Good grief’ in Welsh.

Nell: Did I? Where did that come?

Me: I’m afraid you might be turning slightly bad.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Did you find some bacon you haven’t told us about?

Nell: Why?

Me: Harriet said you were licking your lips.

Nell: I had a dry mouth.

Me: You always lick your lips after you’ve eaten something tasty.

Nell: I think David is waving at us.

Me: Stop changing the subject. I think I ought to update Joyce and No Good Boyo.

Nell: There is absolutely no reason to alert the Border Terriers. Lady Anwen was saying to me earlier that I have no need to talk to them.

Me: Lady Anwen? That’s it. I’m telling Joyce. Sorry.