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An emotional day

Nell: Yesterday was a day of emotions.

Me: Yes, it was.

Nell: We laid your mother to rest in a beautiful place.

Me: Yes, we did.

Nell: Surrounded by love.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I was by your side.

Me: You were.

Nell: The hotel looked after us extremely well.

Me: Yes, they were very kind.

Nell: They brought me fresh water to drink in my own bowl and several biscuits.

Me: It was thoughtful of them.

Nell: They couldn’t know I actually wanted a cup of Earl Grey and a smoked salmon sandwich.

Me: No. Although they might have guessed about the sandwich.

Nell: After the memorial you all went to the beach.

Me: Yes, we did. We had our Wellington boots and rain gear in the boot.

Nell: And Kev joined you later with Mutley.

Me: Yes. Mutley can’t do the long walks anymore so he sometimes misses out.

Nell: But not yesterday.

Me: No.

Nell: Mutley and Jonathan were able to spend some special time together by the sea.

Me: Yes.

Nell: There was an awful lot of sea in Jonathan’s boots, if I may say so.

Me: Yes. Some of the puddles were deeper than we expected and when you are by the sea you have to splash.

Nell: You certainly do.

Me: It was the perfect end to an emotional day and I’m so glad Mutley was able to join us on the beach.

Nell: The evening was a little wild. I’m afraid David and Gladys don’t understand the concept of discreet. Those feather boas.

Me: We enjoyed it. It was such a special family day, Nell. We made so many memories.

Nell: We did.

Me: My mother would have loved it.

Nell: She did. She was watching over you all.

Me: Yes, she was. Sorry.

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Memorial

Me: This is a difficult day for me, Nell.

Nell: Yes. We all miss her too, you know.

Me: Thank you for the photos of my mother.

Nell: The one with Cousin Seamus and Naughty Nigel when he was just a puppy reminds me of how she loved her garden.

Me: Yes. I love the smiling one. She was so happy.

Nell: She was with you.

Me: I wish I could see her again. Just once.

Nell: Close your eyes and you will.

Me: You are right.

Nell: We will celebrate her life today.

Me: Yes. She loved life so much.

Nell: She certainly did. David will sing later and Gladys will perform a contemporary dance.

Me: Lovely.

Nell: I’ve asked them to be discreet but one never knows.

Me: I don’t mind.

Nell: I know you don’t.

Me: I’m so glad we found her final resting place. It will be good to have somewhere to go now to talk to her, Nell. It is such a beautiful spot high on a hill overlooking the countryside.

Nell: It is lovely.

Me: Yes. It is just so hard to say goodbye.

Nell: “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”

Me: J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.

Nell: Yes. Wise words.

Me: My mother loved that story.

Nell: You understand that we can’t all be with you, don’t you?

Me: Yes.

Nell: You are going to the hotel for lunch after the ceremony and unfortunately they don’t take flamingos, or alpacas.

Me: I understand.

Nell: I just spoke to the manager, however, and he is happy for me to accompany you.

Me: So you will be with me?

Nell: I am always with you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. Not today.

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Facing fears

Nell: Now, you have a few difficult days ahead but we are prepared.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: It’s your mother’s memorial tomorrow and Alice and the children leave on Tuesday.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We will deal with it all as a family.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: We will not let this constant rain get us down.

Me: No.

Nell: We have Wellington boots and we enjoy puddles.

Me: Some of us more than others.

Nell: And everything feels better after a cuddle and one of Poppy’s scones.

Me: True.

Nell: Also Malcolm is back to his old self.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. When I entered the kitchen he bowed politely and asked me if I would like my eggs boiled or poached.

Me: How very kind.

Nell: He said he had taken Susan her breakfast on a tray as she has had a difficult time recently.

Me: She must be so relieved.

Nell: He is busy making macarons in tastefully mute colours as we speak.

Me: Well done Mutley.

Nell: Yes, and Henry of course.

Me: Do we know any more about Sven Gully?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is on the case. Gully expressed interest in a knitted waistcoat and is coming here for a fitting later.

Me: Not here, Nell. We could all be hypnotised.

Nell: Do not worry. The Great Mutliano is poised to retaliate and we shall all wear glasses.

Me: I only need them for reading.

Nell: I’m talking about sunglasses. Do keep up. The waistcoat will obviously be bugged.

Me: Henry?

Nell: No, it’s a job for Horst. There may be a lot of travelling and Henry struggles with heights.

Me: He must find riding on Dave’s back scary then.

Nell: Sometimes one must face one’s fears and do it anyway.

Me: Yes. You’re right. Sorry.

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It’s Alex’s Birthday

Me: Dave’s fallen asleep in a top hat with his bowl in his paw.

Nell: Yes. He’s exhausted. He was breakdancing for the children earlier.

Me: Breakdancing?

Nell: Yes. It’s something we all do.

Me: I thought you were just rolling on your backs. I’ve seen you do it lots of times.

Nell: Rolling on our backs? Didn’t you notice the careful twist of body and tail?

Me: Sort of.

Nell: It’s very complicated. Pay attention next time.

Me: I will.

Nell: The children were very impressed. Now, you will be pleased you hear that The Great Mutliano is making excellent progress with Malcolm.

Me: Oh good. I hope Alejandro wasn’t sawn in half.

Nell: No. He was rather disappointed so Gladys has promised him a slot in the next show.

Me: The next show?

Nell: Yes. The Great Mutliano has agreed to a Halloween Special. Anyway, back to Malcolm.

Me: How is he?

Nell: He isn’t at the grey stage yet but we have moved from primary colours to pastels.

Me: That’s a step in the right direction.

Nell: Timothy was able to eat his morning muesli without Malcolm throwing beakfuls of red cranberries in it.

Me: I like cranberries.

Nell: That’s not the point. It’s your little sister Alex’s birthday today, isn’t it?

Me: Yes. We’re taking her out to lunch.

Nell: I’ve written a poem. Shall I read it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘My dear Alex I’m extremely delighted to say

Happy Birthday to you on your special day.

May there be sunshine and clear skies above

And cake and cuddles and oceans of love.

Throw your hats in the air and all shout ‘Hurrah’

Let’s celebrate the happiness of Alex’s day.’

Me: She will love it. You old softy.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Sorry.

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The Great Mutliano steps in

Me: You’re going to speak Swedish aren’t you?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Please don’t be nice to me.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: I can tell by the way you are holding your paws.

Nell: You can tell what?

Me: That Sven Gully has got to you.

Nell: I am merely engaged in gentle contemplation of the day ahead.

Me: Oh. Thank goodness because you are actually quite scary when you’re nice.

Nell: I am going to ignore that remark. Now, the plan to save Malcolm is well underway.

Me: Good.

Nell: Fortunately we have The Great Mutliano.

Me: You mean Mutley.

Nell: Of course I mean Mutley but when he has his hypnotist’s hat on we refer to him by his full name.

Me: I see.

Nell: Malcolm is having a quiet breakfast with The Great Mutliano as we speak.

Me: Is that why Gladys is wearing a sequinned cloak? Only I wondered.

Nell: Yes. Gladys is his assistant but she’s taken it a little too far as usual.

Me: Is there is a reason why Alejandro is lying in a box?

Nell: He thinks he’s going to be sawn in half but that’s only the stage show. Someone needs to tell him. We can’t have a huge box cluttering up the living room.

Me: Is Mutliano going to hypnotise Malcolm?

Nell: Of course he is. It’s not just a bonding session over a bacon sandwich.

Me: Malcolm doesn’t like bacon.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: You’ll get nowhere with bacon.

Nell: Poppy has made him a prawn omelette. Stop fussing.

Me: Is Dave supposed to be wearing his top hat?

Nell: Yes.

Me: And tails?

Nell: You can’t have a top hat without tails. Everyone knows that. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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He is back

Me: Where are the puppies?

Nell: Harriet is giving Jonathan a morning tickle and David is supervising his breakfast.

Me: Boiled eggs?

Nell: Yes, followed by blackberry jam on toast.

Me: Any news from Henry?

Nell: Big News. I’ve just been discussing it at Morning Thoughts.

Me: Tell me.

Nell: Henry suspects Malcolm has been hypnotised.

Me: No?

Nell: I’m afraid so. I did wonder when he said ‘de behöver mer färg‘ about the fishcakes.

Me: Did he have one stuck in his throat?

Nell: No. It means ‘They need more colour’ in Swedish.

Me: Were the fishcakes pale then?

Nell: That’s not the point. Malcolm was speaking Swedish. The reason is obvious.

Me: He is learning a new language?

Nell: No. Have you forgotten the Swedish incident last May?

Me: Do you mean when everyone started speaking Swedish and you were nice to me?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But Malcolm is being nasty.

Nell: Malcolm is behaving out of character.

Me: Like you were?

Nell: Yes. Henry has also confirmed that Malcolm has been dreaming in Swedish.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: So it is safe to assume that he is back.

Me: Who?

Nell: Sven Gully.

Me: You mean Stephen Seagull’s Swedish cousin the evil hypnotist? That Sven Gully?

Nell: Yes. Of course.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: He is obviously working for the Black Claw so we have to be on our guard.

Me: What can we do?

Nell: Hats must be worn at all times and no staring at the sky. If you see any odd behaviour let me know.

Me: To be honest there’s quite a lot of odd behaviour around here so it might be rather difficult to tell.

Nell: Remember The Cat wore socks and sandals and Harriet ate pickled fish.

Me: Yes. That was odd. Sorry.

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Canadian Thanksgiving

Me: Harriet looks concerned. Is it the Mondays?

Nell: No. It’s Malcolm.

Me: Why? What’s happened?

Nell: He snapped at Susan. He said she was too grey?

Me: Malcolm always loved Susan’s grey feathers.

Nell: Yes. But Nasty Malcolm only likes strong colours.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is on his way.

Me: He’s not going to eat Malcolm, is he?

Nell: Malcolm isn’t Little Red Riding Hood. Although, he would probably approve of her colourful outfit.

Me: Is Knitwear Wolf going to reason with Malcolm?

Nell: No. He’s bringing him a scarf.

Me: I hope it’s colourful.

Nell: Yes. I contacted Myfanwy earlier on WoofsApp and the Welsh corgi choir knitted one quickly. Orange, pink and green.

Me: Very garish.

Nell: Yes. He will love it.

Me: I know the scarf will improve Malcolm’s mood but we really need to know what’s going on.

Nell: The scarf will be bugged. Henry has kindly volunteered.

Me: He’s a brave woodlouse.

Nell: The small are often the most courageous. Look at Poppy.

Me: True. I’ve noticed she’s started carrying her sword again.

Nell: It’s a precautionary measure. She points it at Malcolm when he gets mouthy.

Me: Has Malcolm been rude to her?

Nell: Oh yes. After the croissant incident you would have thought he’d learned his lesson but quite the opposite.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The bacon needs to be crispier, the eggs softer, the toast toastier.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: He has even started to throw things away and you know how Poppy hates wastage.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Fortunately David is usually on paw to catch whatever is thrown and Harriet is happy to help.

Me: Is that why everyone is waving bacon?

Nell: No. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving and we always wave bacon. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A quiet Sunday

Nell: Would you mind not interrupting us please?

Me: What are you three up to?

Nell: Jonathan is explaining to Faye and I about sailing boats and how they work.

Me: Are you sure Faye is interested?

Nell: Very. She made a few excellent suggestions.

Me: Really?

Nell: We weren’t quite sure what she was saying but we appreciated the enthusiasm.

Me: Talking of enthusiasm Morning Songs started a bit early today, didn’t they?

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir thought the children would appreciate ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.

Me: It’s not every day you look out of your window to a choir of corgis dressed in sou’westers.

Nell: No. Although it seems to happen more frequently than one would expect.

Me: I wish it would stop raining.

Nell: Yes. It’s becoming tedious. Having said that, Jonathan and I agree that there’s nothing quite like a muddy puddle, especially when one is wearing wellington boots.

Me: What are the plans today?

Nell: I believe Knitwear Wolf is joining us for lunch. The children have never met a wolf before.

Me: Especially a stylish one in a cardigan.

Nell: He was wearing a fisherman’s sweater when I saw him. Weather appropriate.

Me: When did you see him?

Nell: He brought the Sunday papers and we enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey and a quiet chat. He was asking after Charlie.

Me: He is a kind wolf.

Nell: Malcolm doesn’t think so. He is still out of sorts. He asked us to leave the kitchen.

Me: He needs bugging, Nell. I’m not joking.

Nell: I am beginning to think you might be right. I’ll talk to Henry and Horst.

Me: What if Malcolm has gone over to the dark side?

Nell: Then we will bring him back. Stop fussing.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Alice

Me: What an amazing time we had on the beach in spite of the rain.

Nell: Yes. Did I just see you eating chocolate cake for breakfast?

Me: It’s Alice’s birthday. Cake is allowed.

Nell: Why?

Me: It’s a family tradition.

Nell: I don’t think you should go on the bouncy castle until later then.

Me: No. Perhaps not.

Nell: Would you like to hear my poem?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘This poem is for someone I happen to know

Who came into the world 35 years ago.

A beautiful someone both outside and in

Beloved by us all, especially Jim.’

Me: Why especially Jim? He’s Harriet’s boyfriend.

Nell: It rhymed. Stop interrupting. Harriet doesn’t mind. Where was I?

Me: Talking nonsense about Jim.

Nell: ‘We love you so much it’s hard to explain,

Way past the moon and twice around Spain’

Me: Spain?

Nell: Quiet.

‘A daughter, a sister, a mother now too

Yes, darling Alice, I’m talking about you.

‘So today is her birthday?’ we ask with great joy.

‘Will there be cake and a going home toy?’

Me: What?

Nell: Everyone likes a going home toy. Do keep up.

Me: But we don’t have any going home toys.

Nell: Of course we do. You didn’t think all those unicorns were yours did you?

Me: I wondered.

Nell: ‘Jonathan Sky has asked me to say

That you’re the best mummy and he’s agreed it with Faye.

They love you the mostest that any child could

And they’re both trying hard to be ever so good.

But David says anyone can make a mistake

And anything is possible as long as there’s cake.

So Happy Birthday Alice from everyone here

We love you so much you are dearer than dear.’

Me: She is.

Nell: She knows.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Is something wrong with Malcolm?

Nell: That incessant honking has to stop. Those Canadians are driving me mad.

Me: They are just cheerful geese.

Nell: There’s no such thing.

Me: It’s a holiday weekend in Canada and it’s Thanksgiving on Monday so they’re bound to be excited.

Nell: Yes, I am aware. Little Marvin is exhausted just thinking about it.

Me: Dear little pup. He is growing up so quickly. You know he is actually from Texas.

Nell: Yes. I knew that.

Me: I expect he speaks with that lovely Texan drawl.

Nell: He has a slight Southern accent but nothing too pronounced. I noticed it the last time we FaceTimed on WoofsApp.

Me: I bet he would love to be here with the family

Nell: Yes. Talking of family it’s Alice’s birthday tomorrow so Poppy is baking two cakes.

Me: Two?

Nell: Yes. Chocolate is Alice’s favourite but it is an Absolute No Go with us dogs so she decided on a Victoria Sandwich as the second one.

Me: You can’t go wrong with a sponge.

Nell: Well, actually Malcolm did. His came out quite wrong so Poppy is having to bake one.

Me: How odd. Malcolm’s sponges are normally perfect.

Nell: Yes. He’s a little out of sorts. He was quite short with Timothy.

Me: How unlike him. He’s such a polite flamingo.

Nell: Yes, and he knows we are coming up to a sensitive time of year for Timothy with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner.

Me: I’ve had an awful thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: What if the Black Claw have got to him and Malcolm is turning bad?

Nell: Malcolm is sick of the rain like everyone else and his sponge had a soggy bottom. Stop that nonsense right now we have a birthday to organise.

Me: Yes. Sorry.