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The Day After

Me: Is Dave’s rainbow ring rather bright, or is it me?

Nell: How is the head today?

Me: Hurting.

Nell: A little too much champagne, perhaps?

Me: I’m never drinking it again.

Nell: Not until your sisters arrive at the weekend, anyway.

Me: It was a lovely birthday, Nell. So many people thought of me.

Nell: Of course they did.

Me: I FaceTimed with Alice and the grandchildren. They drew pictures and made up stories for me.

Nell: They love a good story.

Me: Yes, it makes me so happy that they do.

Nell: Now, I’m guessing that you would prefer a quiet day?

Me: You’re right.

Nell: A gentle walk along the beach and a slice of birthday cake in front of the fire when we get back?

Me: Sounds perfect.

Nell: The Cat is going to pop over to measure you for your ballgown later but that shouldn’t take too long.

Me: For my what?

Nell; You can’t go to the ball without a gown.

Me: I don’t want to go to any ball.

Nell: You’ll see things differently by the weekend. You didn’t think we would forget about the Birthday Ball, did you?

Me: I knew it was for me.

Nell: I’m a little disappointed not to be able to wear my tiara and pearls but such is life.

Me: Is Miss Maple any closer to discovering who A Friend really is?

Nell: I don’t know but someone sent you an extremely heavy rabbit.

Me: Not another animal.

Nell: This one is stuffed.

Me: Don’t tell me, it’s a friend of the Stuffed Tiger’s.

Nell: They certainly seem to know each and the tiger is called Beaumarchais. Remember?

Me: What’s the rabbit’s name? Beaufort?

Nell: No. It’s called Johnny Rabbit, if you must know.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Sara

Nell: Happy Birthday to you.

Me: Thank you. I love these photos of us having a conversation.

Nell: I thought everyone would like to see more photos from the photoshoot for your first book.

Me: The publishers only chose a few, didn’t they? I hate having my photo taken but you look gorgeous.

Nell: Don’t start.

Me: Thank you for all the wonderful birthday messages. They mean so much to me.

Nell: I’ve written you a poem.

Me: Can I hear it?

Nell: Of course.

‘Happy Birthday dear Sara

It’s been quite a year

Full of love and laughter

But also worry

And fear.’

Me: You can say that again.

Nell: No, I can’t. It would ruin the poem.

Me: You know what I mean.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Please do.

Nell: ‘But sometimes the dark days

Can show you the light

Can unleash your inner warrior

And make you ready to fight.

Whatever challenges you face

There’s no need to hide

Because we’re facing them with you

We’re right by your side.

Let’s treasure each day

We spend together

Because happy memories last

For ever and ever.

But enough of all that

The time to party has begun.

We need candles and cake

We need bacon and fun.

Put on your hats

Kick off your shoes.

Be nice to the cats

And shrug off the blues.’

Me: Be nice to the cats?

Nell: It’s only once a year.

Me: True.

Nell: May I finish?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘Put a smile on your face

And a drink in your paw

Because our darling Sara

Has turned 64.’

Me: That was a really lovely poem, Nell.

Nell: My pleasure.

Me: How did I get to be 64?

Nell: Just blow out the candles before the house burns down.

Me: Sorry.

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Sunday Contemplations

Me: You’re very beautiful Nell, especially when you’re lost in thought like that.

Nell: Thank you.

Me: I suppose Sunday is the time to think about things. A day of contemplation.

Nell: I was enjoying the smell of bacon cooking if you must know.

Me: I’ve been doing some thinking too.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Looking back on my life.

Nell: You do this every year when it comes to your birthday.

Me: I know. When I was younger 64 seemed so old.

Nell: The Beatles would agree with you.

Me: Exactly. ‘Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?’

Nell: No. I shall give David your bacon sandwich if you don’t stop. You need to look forward.

Me: You’re right.

Nell: Sunday Songs today is dedicated to you, by the way.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir will be singing lots of Golden Oldies with hits from your past.

Me: I thought you said I wasn’t supposed to look back.

Nell: You may have noticed their Afghan coats.

Me: I did.

Nell: The Cat managed to source them in very short and wide.

Me: What are you implying?

Nell: Corgis are so difficult to dress. It’s the shortness of the leg.

Me: I know how they feel. Why are the llamas in lycra?

Nell: They insisted on catsuits in celebration of your David Bowie phase.

Me: I hope they don’t freeze.

Nell: They’ve got their coats on underneath.

Me: Of course.

Nell: But before the performance begins let’s enjoy our bacon sandwiches in front of the fire with a nice cup of Earl Grey.

Me: Sounds perfect.

Nell: We can discuss the family’s visit in March. It’s not that far away now. You have so much to look forward to.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Shannon

Nell: I like the photos of Shannon and Marvin.

Me: Chris sent them to me from Toronto. It’s her birthday today.

Nell: I know. Marvin’s been excited about it for days. In fact birthdays have been the main topic of conversation in my Young Animals Mentoring Group.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. Toby was talking about Tony ‘s birthday.

Me: Bless him.

Nell: And David joined us to read his poem for Tony.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I know I call him a puppy but he’s going to be six in June so I’m surprised he was allowed to take part.

Nell: He was a guest speaker.

Me: I see.

Nell: Anyway, Marvin was so inspired by David that he wrote a poem for Shannon.

Me: How lovely.

Nell: Would you like to hear it? I’m sure Marvin wouldn’t mind.

Me: I would. Very much.

Nell: ‘Mommy Shannon. Dearest dear.

It’s your boy Marvin writing here.

The pup you rescued long ago

And brought to live

In the land of snow.

You saved my life

I know it’s true

I wouldn’t be here

If it wasn’t for you.

And dear dad Chris

As well of course,

Our knight in shining armour

Who needs a horse?

As today is your birthday

I want you to see

How much you are loved

By both Dad and me.

We’ll always be grateful

For all that you do.

You make us so happy

By just being you. ‘

Me: That’s really sweet. I’m sure she will love it.

Nell: Yes, Marvin has quite a flair for poetry.

Me: It’s wonderful to see how far he has come. It brings a tear to my eye.

Nell: Now is the time for smiles not tears. Let’s all wish Shannon a very Happy Birthday.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Good News and Bad News

Nell: I have Good News and Bad News. Which would you like to hear first?

Me: Good News, please, and I’m really hoping it’s that Lionel and that dreadful elderly hyena are leaving. I nearly had a heart attack when I bumped into it in the kitchen.

Nell: I know Mr Giggles is a little off putting at first but you need to see past the exterior.

Me: He’s terrifying, Nell, and that laugh.

Nell: It is rather annoying. Anyway, the Good News is that Kev is coming home today.

Me: That’s wonderful.

Nell: PC Panda had the photos analysed and they are clearly fakes.

Me: I could have told him that.

Nell: The Daily Growl is going to print an apology and all posters have been removed from town.

Me: Excellent.

Nell: Several Beefies are also helping the police with their inquiries.

Me: Even better.

Nell: Yes. Kev should be back by lunchtime.

Me: Has Knitwear Wolf gone to get him on his motorbike?

Nell: No. Lionel is sending Mr Giggles in his car.

Me: Is that the Bad News?

Nell: No. Mr Giggles has collected Kev before. He even lent him his chauffeur’s hat.

Me: What’s the Bad News then?

Nell: I’m afraid we’ve had to delay the Birthday Ball.

Me: That’s fine.

Nell: We can’t have a Ball with all this nonsense going on.

Me: I don’t mind a low key birthday. When you get to my age you’re just thankful to be alive.

Nell: Good grief. You’re only going to be 64, not 104.

Me: I know. I think the past few months have taken the oomph out of me.

Nell: Well, we need to get your oomph back and quickly. Kev will be home soon and Poppy is making a celebratory lunch.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Happy Birthday Tony

Nell: Can you see properly again?

Me: Yes. Thank goodness. I didn’t like having blurry vision.

Nell: Nobody does.

Me: They were very kind to me at the hospital and I was well looked after. Thank goodness for our wonderful NHS.

Nell: Yes, you have certainly been making the most of their services recently.

Me: I know. To be honest I wouldn’t mind not seeing the inside of a hospital or doctors surgery for a while.

Nell: I understand. Did anyone follow you?

Me: We don’t think so, although there were a few suspicious Beefies circling around screeching.

Nell: Wretched nosey barkers.

Me: Don’t you mean nosey parkers?

Nell: No.

Me: It’s Tony’s birthday today, by the way.

Nell: Yes, I know. David has written a poem for him.

Me: Really?

Nell: He’s expanding his skills.

Me: I’m impressed.

Nell: You haven’t heard it yet.

Me: I’m sure it’s a lovely poem.

Nell: Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘My name is Dave and I’d like to say

That my Best Buddy Tony has a birthday today.

Tony is kind

Tony is tough

Cuddles with Tony

Are never enough.

If I ruled the world

Which I won’t cos I’m not clever

I’d keep Tony with me

For ever and ever.

So Happy Birthday dear Tony

So noble and brave

From all of your fans

And from me your mate Dave.‘

Me: I think it’s a marvellous poem. Tony will love it.

Nell: It’s not bad. He’s definitely improving.

Me: Yes, darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: January is a busy birthday month. Tony’s today, Shannon’s on Saturday and yours on Monday.

Me: I hope Kev will be home for my birthday.

Nell: Of course he will. He wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Don’t Start

Me: Is that Poppy’s new bed?

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: Are you lying on Poppy’s new bed?

Nell: I’m just breaking it in.

Me: Breaking it in?

Nell: Stop repeating everything. New beds can be a little stiff at first.

Me: It’s supposed to be in Sandringham Palace upstairs.

Nell: It will be. Now, we need to discuss your trip to the hospital today.

Me: I’m having my eyes tested.

Nell: I know.

Me: But I’m not allowed to drive back because my vision will be blurred for several hours.

Nell: Calm down.

Me: And Kev isn’t here to drive me.

Nell: How do you feel about a short trip in Rupert’s sidecar?

Me: I’m not sure arriving at the hospital with a wolf on a motorbike is awfully wise.

Nell: Have you ever ridden a llama?

Me: Not recently.

Nell: Poppy could fly you there in her helicopter but it might cause unnecessary fuss.

Me: Kev never lets me go to these appointments without him.

Nell: And today is no different. Look out of the window.

Me: There’s a chauffeur in a strange car.

Nell: Look closer.

Me: It’s Kev in a chauffeur’s uniform.

Nell: Yes. He insisted on being the one to take you. We tried to dissuade him but he refused to listen.

Me: How did he get here?

Nell: Lionel’s driver collected him.

Me: Lionel has a driver?

Nell: Don’t start. The driver’s been with him for years.

Me: Who is the other dachshund then?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: There are two dachshunds in the kitchen eating pancakes with Dave. I presume one of them is Lionel’s driver.

Nell: Lionel’s driver is an elderly hyena. The two dachshunds are Hope and Leo. Miss Maple’s boys. Now hurry up. Kev’s waiting.

Me: Right. Sorry.

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Where is Kev?

Me: It seems all wrong to be down on the beach without Kev.

Nell: Yes, but I’m afraid it’s far too risky for him to be out and about at the moment.

Me: Even with the false beard and sunglasses?

Nell: He’s not wearing those anymore.

Me: Why?

Nell: There was a photo of him in disguise in the Daily Growl this morning. Didn’t you see it?

Me: No. It really must be someone very close to home. How else could they have taken a photo?

Nell: It isn’t a real photo. It was photoshopped. He’s wearing that stripy t-shirt again.

Me: But they still had to know about the beard and sunglasses.

Nell: True. Well spotted.

Me: Don’t you mean striped?

Nell: I shall ignore that.

Me: I wonder who did the photoshopping.

Nell: Several Beefies wearing binoculars have been seen circling our property so I’m guessing they are behind it.

Me: Villains.

Nell: Yes, we’ve had to move him twice already today.

Me: Where is he now?

Nell: Best not to tell you until we’ve tracked down the culprit.

Me: We know it’s A Friend.

Nell: Yes, but we don’t know who A Friend is.

Me: It’s obvious to me.

Nell: Kindly stop accusing Lionel. He’s doing everything he can to help.

Me: Is Kev hiding on Burgh Island?

Nell: Why do you think that?

Me: You keep glancing over there.

Nell: It’s a beautiful island.

Me: He wouldn’t be staying in Lionel’s suite, would he?

Nell: Stop speculating please.

Me: What are you and Harriet looking for in that seaweed, by the way?

Nell: Jewellery, of course. We’re always on the lookout for clues.

Me: Oh, I thought you might have been doing your usual sniffari.

Nell: Now is not the time for sniffaris.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Wanted

Me: Why are you lying on that hard mat?

Nell: I’m guarding the back door.

Me: Harriet is looking worried.

Nell: She has every reason to be.

Me: Why?

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Kev is a wanted man.

Me: He’s greatly loved.

Nell: Not like that. My friend Dorothy says there are posters all over the town.

Me: Of Kev?

Nell: Yes. Apparently they are offering a reward for any information on his whereabouts.

Me: How much?

Nell: I have no idea and that’s not the point.

Me: I’m not sure hiding in his studio in the back garden is the safest place for Kev to be at the moment.

Nell: He’s wearing a false beard and sunglasses.

Me: He still looks like Kev.

Nell: It’ll have to do until we find an alternative. Remember no visitors are allowed in the back garden however innocent they might appear to be.

Me: So, no giant stuffed rabbits then?

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Talking of stuffed toys you know the Stuffed Tiger is probably listening to everything we’re saying, don’t you?

Nell: That’s why we’re not discussing Kev in the living room. Didn’t you read your notes?

Me: What notes?

Nell: Sally has issued everyone with notes.

Me: I didn’t get any.

Nell: Check your iBone.

Me: Oh my goodness. Someone has sent me a photo of the Wanted poster.

Nell: Let me check my emails. Yes, I have it too.

Me: Who’s the sender?

Nell: A Friend.

Me: Same here.

Nell: We need to inform Sally and Miss Maple at once.

Me: Call me suspicious but I don’t think A Friend actually is one.

Nell: Of course not. Go and get Sally right now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Ridiculous Suggestions

Me: I thought you said Kev has to go into hiding?

Nell: He does.

Me: He’s in the kitchen buttering toast.

Nell: I know.

Me: And all you’re doing is watching him.

Nell: Not in an obvious way.

Me: In a really obvious way.

Nell: Nonsense.

Me: I thought there was an urgency about this?

Nell: Let Kev enjoy his breakfast first.

Me: You haven’t told me where he’s going yet?

Nell: We’re still undecided. There’ve been some, quite frankly, ridiculous suggestions.

Me: What are they?

Nell: The llamas said he could pitch a tent in the field.

Me: That’s a bit too close to home.

Nell: And then Poppy suggested Dartmoor.

Me: That’s a good idea. Anyone can camp up there.

Nell: Not anymore and it’s far too cold. Kev’s 63. He’s not doing his Duke of Edinburgh award.

Me: What else?

Nell: David thinks the Burgh Hotel is the perfect place and Lionel has offered the use of his suite.

Me: Lionel has a suite at the Burgh Hotel? I thought he’d fallen on hard times.

Nell: He says he has contacts there.

Me: Why doesn’t he go then?

Nell: This is about Kev. Anyway, the Burgh Hotel is too predictable.

Me: What about the Cottage Hotel? Sarah and William are always pleased to see us.

Nell: The Cottage Hotel is closed in January.

Me: They might open for Kev. Are you reading the newspaper?

Nell: Did you know today is the Chinese New Year?

Me: Stop changing the subject.

Nell: It’s the end of the Year of the Tiger.

Me: Is it?

Nell: And the start of the Year of the Rabbit.

Me: If I find a giant stuffed rabbit in our living room I’m going to completely lose it.

Nell: Don’t be so dramatic.

Me: Sorry.