Book · Summer · West Side Story

Such fun

Me: Oh my goodness. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Nell: Yes, even Ron Gilbert shed a tear when Jim presented those red roses to Harriet.

Me: I know.

Nell: David’s encore with Gladys and the chihuahuas was a little over the top. Throwing three in the air at one time. Reckless behaviour.

Me: It was exciting.

Nell: Rocky Martin and Rita Pawreno danced an amazing salsa. Anton called me to say they should be on Strictly.

Me: And all the cast joined in.

Nell: Yes, one of the Dartmouth Dachsunds slipped a disc and a Bichon Frise swallowed a sequin.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: I warned them to take it easy but they got carried away.

Me: Along with the audience.

Nell: Yes, I enjoyed the corgis doing the conga and those Cavalier King Charles Spaniels did a very passable cha-cha.

Me: Whatever will you all do next?

Nell: Well, Hamilton approached me about David as he thought he would suit his rap musical. I said David is an excellent rapper but he is simply too young.

Me: Do you mean Lin-Manuel Miranda?

Nell: No. I mean Hamilton Hound, Rupert’s brother. The only Miranda I know is that funny girl with the small friend. She has Poppy and I in stitches. Do keep up.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

After the Dress Rehearsal

Me: Where are the puppies?

Nell: Harriet is having a strong word with David about yesterday’s dress rehearsal.

Me: Why?

Nell: The improvisation at the end was beyond belief.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Bernardo does not return as a ghost to join in the finale.

Me: No.

Nell: Especially wearing sequins and wire flying. I thought Rupert was going to spontaneously combust.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Ron Gilbert fell off his ladder.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He narrowly missed squashing a chihuahua.

Me: Goodness.

Nell: The surfers all applauded of course and Jim and the farm dogs thought it was hilarious.

Me: It does sound funny.

Nell: But it was not supposed to be and it ruined Harriet’s moment.

Me: Yes, I’m sure he didn’t mean to upset her and it won’t happen again.

Nell: It better not. We are completely sold out.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes, we had a last minute booking from the Whippets Institute. They are sending a couple of coach loads.

Me: They are awfully good at making jam, aren’t they? Is Poppy a member?

Nell: Poppy is not a whippet and I don’t even know if they like jam. What are you talking about?

Me: My mistake. Sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

A surprisingly good photo

Nell: I must say that young poodle with the dreadlocks took a surprisingly good photo.

Me: You look wonderful.

Nell: I wasn’t sure about giving the Daily Growl an exclusive but now I am glad I did.

Me: Yes, people are going to flock to see the show.

Nell: I’ve allowed the local press access to this evening’s dress rehearsal. The Torquay Terrier, The Paignton Pooch, The South Hams Hound, and The Kingsbridge and Salcombe Gazelle.

Me: I wonder why it’s a gazelle.

Nell: Don’t we all. Anyway, where are the rest of the papers? Poppy is preparing our Sunday roast so I thought I might indulge in a cup of Earl Grey and catch up with the latest news before The Archers.

Me: Good idea.

Nell: Hopefully our cast slept well after last night’s shenanigans.

Me: I did enjoy the dancing and fancy the Australian cattle dogs bringing a didjeridoo.

Nell: Awful thing. Sounded like a wounded sea lion.

Me: How do you know that?

Nell: From my time at the BBC, of course. David and I filmed an award winning documentary in Galapagos a few years ago.

Me: I never knew Dave was in Galapagos?

Nell: Not our David. Is he likely to be filming wildlife documentaries? Try and be a little realistic. David Attenborough.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

You’re an embarrassment

Me: Oh dear. I know that look.

Nell: It’s one thing after another at the moment.

Me: Why?

Nell: Poppy packed a small picnic for Gladys and the chihuahuas to take to this morning’s rehearsal.

Me: That’s kind. Just a few snacks, then?

Nell: No, a proper picnic, but small. Fairy cakes, tiny sandwiches, mini quiches.

Me: I see. Lovely.

Nell: Not really. The farm dogs ate them.

Me: The chihuahuas?

Nell: No, the picnic. You fool.

Me: I was worried for a moment.

Nell: David and the surfers got involved and so did Jim and the farm dogs. There was a lot of name calling and shouting about canapés and poor starving chihuahuas. A few fairy cakes were thrown.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: But now they’ve all arranged to meet on the beach later.

Me: For a Rumble? I knew it. There is going to be a fight and Jim’s brother Ruff will die and Jim will stab David and he will die and then someone, I’m not sure who, will shoot Jim and he will die.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: And Harriet will be left alone singing sadly about “Somewhere” and everyone will be very sorry, especially Gladys who told a wicked lie.

Nell: Good grief! Have you been drinking? Calm down. They are just having a barbecue on the beach. Jim and the farm dogs apologised and have organised it for everyone so we can relax before the dress rehearsal tomorrow. Honestly, you get carried away sometimes.

Me: Can I come?

Nell: Only if you promise to behave. Ron Gilbert is bringing the Australian cattle dogs as they know their way around a barbecue.

Me: Well, if we are having a barbie this arvo then I’d better put a few beers in my Esky.

Nell: If that was your attempt at Australian slang I would stop right now. You are an embarrassment. You have been watching far too many episodes of “Neighbours”.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

David ate the chair

Nell: David has asked me to pass on his apologies and to thank Kev for taping up the arm of the chair. He is aware that eating it was wrong.

Me: He is very naughty.

Nell: I agree. He also said he would like to be known as Bernardo.

Me: What?

Nell: Yes. Apparently Rupert has asked them to stay in character.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: If David starts walking around in Cuban heels there will be trouble.

Me: You’re telling me. He certainly doesn’t need the height. Harriet is very sweet as Maria.

Nell: Yes, she and Jim are lovely together. I shall be happy when “Tonight” finally comes though. They have been singing about it enough.

Me: Did you manage to cast the two gangs?

Nell: Yes, the Bichon Frise from Paignton was excellent. I also have a couple of determined Dachshunds from Dartmouth with strong voices.

Me: Good.

Nell: The Miniature Pinscher struggled a little with the dancing but I have some wonderfully energetic Airedales who are throwing themselves into it all.

Me: What about Ron Gilbert?

Nell: Don’t get me started. He’s got a team of Australian cattle dogs as his crew.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: As I said to Rupert: “Those animals are supposed to be roving the Outback not putting up scenery in Torquay.”

Me: They are ever so hard working, Nell.

Nell: They herded my dancing chihuahuas into a packing crate. It took me hours to find them.

Me: Kev loved your poem, by the way.

Nell: Yes, he did.

Me: Are you getting sentimental again?

Nell: Certainly not. I leave that to you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Summer

It’s Kev’s Birthday

Nell: Is Kev awake now?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Good. Poppy will make him his favourite breakfast of poached eggs on toast. Harriet will bring it to him in bed with his cards and presents. She picked some flowers for his room.

Me: Will there be cake?

Nell: Of course. Poppy has made a chocolate and raspberry cake for later when the guests arrive.

Me: What about Dave?

Nell: David has prepared a birthday dance. It’s Puerto Rican, but not menacing.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: The Cat has made a ridiculous sequinned tie. It’s the thought that counts I suppose.

Me: Mutley is performing later isn’t he?

Nell: Yes, just some gentle jazz the way Kev likes it.

Me: And you?

Nell: I have written a poem for him.

Me: Could I hear it?

Nell: Of course.

“Walking together through fields by the sea,

Talking of life and what is to be.

Safe in the knowledge that we are a team,

Making our plans and sharing our dream.

When you see us together it’s easy to tell,

That he is my Kev and I am his Nell.”

Me: He is going to love that.

Nell: Yes. Did David just carry Rita and Gladys upstairs in my handbag?

Me: I think he did.

Nell: He told me he was performing alone. If I find those dancing chihuahuas upstairs too there will be trouble. Hurry up and stop him.

Me: Yes, sorry.


Don’t criticise the Lemon Drizzle

Me: Poppy seems awfully low.

Nell: Yes. Some people don’t seem to have anything better to do than to criticise others.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: Poppy’s reputation is at stake.

Me: Oh no. Why?

Nell: Somebody criticised her lemon drizzle cake.

Me: What? Her lemon drizzle is renowned. John the Doberman is even thinking of selling it at Starbarks.

Nell: I know. Tom Barker Howls, the food critic, mentioned Poppy’s scones in his column.

Me: I didn’t know she knew him.

Nell: He’s great pals with Harry so I met him at the wedding and he tried one.

Me: Did they have Poppy’s scones at the Royal Wedding then?

Nell: No. I always have a scone in my handbag. Do keep up.

Me: Oh, I see. But who criticised her?

Nell: It was started by the Grockles from the holiday let.

Me: You mean the visitors?

Nell: Yes, we call them Grockles in Devon.

Me: I know but we don’t usually tell anyone. What did they say?

Nell: Apparently The Cat kindly invited them round for tea and one of them said the cake was dry and was it shop bought.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Personally, I think The Cat might have left the cake out. Everyone knows it needs to go in a tin.

Me: It does.

Nell: Nevertheless I can’t have some visiting hamster criticise Poppy, especially behind her back. It’s cruel and it’s cowardly.

Me: Well, to be fair they didn’t know Poppy made the cake. Wait, did you say hamster?

Nell: Yes. Do you think only cats and dogs go on holiday?

Me: No, sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

Harriet is so pretty

Nell: Have you ever had a makeover?

Me: Not really. I’m not that kind of person.

Nell: Well, Gladys and The Cat want to give Harriet one and we have to stop them.

Me: Harriet doesn’t need one. She is so pretty.

Nell: Yes. She has classic labradorian good looks.

Me: Like you.

Nell: Thank you. I like to visit Doug and the girls now and again for grooming of course.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Gladys, however, travels up to London to see Nicky Bark once a week.

Me: I don’t think I know him.

Nell: One of those Afghan Hounds with long blonde hair. Celebrity hairdresser.

Me: Gosh. Well, she does have a lot of hair.

Nell: And The Cat wears mascara.

Me: No.

Nell: Oh yes, I caught David wearing some the other day. And those silvery bits in its hair.

Me: Yes?

Nell: Highlights.

Me: Crikey.

Nell: Crikey? Honestly, whatever are you going to say next. Golly gumdrops?

Me: They are very good highlights.

Nell: That’s not the point. Do you want Harriet to go blonde and start wearing feathers? Are we going to let them turn her into a painted hussy?

Me: No, of course not. Sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story


Nell: I can’t believe Gladys has been given the role of Anita in West Side Story. I don’t know what possessed Rupert.

Me: Gladys does have lovely fluffy hair.

Nell: Gladys looks like my Russian winter hat.

Me: She does a bit.

Nell: I’m sure I saw one of the guardsman outside Buckingham Palace wearing her on his head.

Me: That’s mean.

Nell: It must be because she’s a friend of Rita Pawreno’s.

Me: Maybe.

Nell: Who is going to believe David is in love with her?

Me: Actually, Dave likes her a lot.

Nell: That’s because she and The Cat trained together at beauty school and he loves all that chitter chatter.

Me: She can dance.

Nell: Yes, but her singing voice leaves a lot to be desired.

Me: It is a little high.

Nell: Honestly, this production is getting out of hand. Ron Gilbert was on the phone just now.

Me: Was he?

Nell: Yes, barking away about lighting again. As if I care.

Me: Well, you agreed to be assistant director.

Nell: I don’t know how that happened. I must be mad.

Me: You will be wonderful.

Nell: Can you ask James to bring the car round, please? I’ve got a Bichon Frise and a Miniature Pinscher waiting to audition in Paignton and I can’t be late.

Me: Sharks, or Jets?

Nell: Small dogs, don’t be silly.

Me: Sorry.

Book · Summer · West Side Story

Sunday snooze

Me: Where is Dave?

Nell: David is being allowed a lie-in. He and Mutley were going through his lines when Mutley fell asleep leaning against him.

Me: Bless him. Mutley has been so busy. Has the MuttDonalds deal gone through?

Nell: Yes, we should be seeing them everywhere soon.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Barker King are furious of course, but competition is part of life. A winning treat is twice as sweet.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Anyway, I’m going to enjoy my Earl Grey while reading the Sunday papers. Hopefully David isn’t front page news again.

Me: Maybe you should just listen to The Archers on Radio Four.

Nell: Why?

Me: Dave might have given another interview.

Nell: Was that bothersome Basset from Barking Weekly here again?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I don’t believe it. Did it stay for tea?

Me: Only sandwiches, no scones.

Nell: I’ve told Poppy not to feed the press. Give David a sandwich and he’s anybody’s. Pass me the papers.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: “Heartthrob Dave Martin pictured at home in Devon with friends.” Who is that next to him?

Me: Rita might have popped in. And The Cat.

Nell: Rita is sitting in my handbag.

Me: I know, sorry.