Check my handbag for Gladys

Nell: Could you check my handbag for Gladys, please?

Me: Of course.

Nell: Charlie took me to a lovely restaurant for dinner yesterday and I opened my bag to find Gladys asleep.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Two is company but three is most definitely a crowd.

Me: Absolutely.

Nell: I called David to come and collect her and he roared up on his motorbike in his pyjamas.

Me: I hope he was wearing a helmet.

Nell: He was. Charlie thought it was hilarious and shared a bowl of chips with them both before they left.

Me: Was it a good evening?

Nell: Wonderful. I am enjoying this precious time together.

Me: It’s ever so glamorous though, isn’t it?

Nell: What?

Me: Dating a spy. An actual 007.

Nell: Just stay in your world of fantasy and let him get on with his job.

Me: Leaping out of planes, running across rooftops, skiing down mountains, surrounded by beautiful temptresses.

Nell: You see. There you go again. If you must know Charlie is not surrounded by temptresses. He has a lovely assistant called Sally who looks after him. A charming Golden Retriever.

Me: I love Golden Retrievers.

Nell: Yes, and you will love Sally. She has come down here for a few days to go through some arrangements with Charlie and I’ve invited them both to dinner.

Me: Perfect.

Nell: She wears glasses and is very shy so I need everyone to be on their best behaviour.

Me: Don’t worry. I’ll tell them. No jokes about Miss Moneypenny.

Nell: Behave.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Fall

Jonathan Sky is Two Today

Jonathan Sky is two today.

Nell says: “Dance and shout ‘Hurrah’.”

Nell says: “Go and chew a shoe

Because Jonathan Sky has just turned two.”

Mutley and Poppy

Harriet and Dave

Are bouncing around

And giving a wave.

Charlie and Jim

Jago and John

Gladys and Rita

The Cat and big Ron.

Granny and Grandpa

Have stories to tell

So just keep on reading

Conversations with Nell.

Listen very carefully

And know this is true.

We love you Jonathan Sky

Happy Birthday to you.

Book · Fall

Mutley’s 15th Birthday

Nell: Would someone please get Gladys out of the hamper. She has her head in the Stilton.

Me: You wouldn’t let her sleep in your handbag.

Nell: Rita is already in there. Why has Ron Gilbert got a moustache?

Me: The Cat painted it on him while he was asleep.

Nell: Well, Mutley’s fifteenth birthday party is one we shall never forget.

Me: The highlight has to be Mutley singing “My Way” on top of the piano.

Nell: Yes. It’s amazing what a swing band and a bowl of jam roly poly can do.

Me: What about Poppy doing a sword dance?

Nell: Accompanied by John on the bagpipes. Their kilts were the genuine article you know.

Me: When those Frenchies started dancing flamenco I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Nell: Yes. I never knew bulldogs could be so light on their paws.

Me: Harriet and Jim sang beautifully. She has such a sweet voice.

Nell: I’m not sure we needed Rita and Gladys dancing around them with roses in their teeth.

Me: And Dave’s performance? Spectacular.

Nell: Words fail me. Where did he get those stilts from and the trapeze?

Me: And how did The Cat get in the cake?

Nell: I’ve no idea but when it jumped out at midnight I thought that elderly Airedale in the corner was going to have a heart attack.

Me: It was very impressive. Mutley loved it all.

Nell: And we love Mutley.

Me: Talking of love. Did I see you smoochy dancing with Charlie?

Nell: Smoochy dancing? Go and wish Mutley a Happy Birthday again from us all and leave my love life to me.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Party planning

Me: I love this photo of Jonathan and Mutley.

Nell: Yes, I think they were discussing tractors. Mutley is very knowledgeable. I am putting together an album for their birthdays.

Me: How lovely. How are preparations for tomorrow’s birthday party coming along?

Nell: Poppy and I have finalised the menu. It’s all London favourites of Mutley’s. Cockles, whelks and jellied eels to start. Pie and mash with liquor for main.

Me: What kind of liquor? Whisky?

Nell: No, it’s a green parsley sauce. Do keep up. Jam roly poly and custard for afters.

Me: You never say afters.

Nell: But Mutley does, and it’s his party.

Me: True. Why is Dave hovering by the gate?

Nell: Pawsome and Basin are delivering a hamper with the Port and Stilton. David is responsible for signing for it and then bringing it to Poppy.

Me: Oh dear. What about the cake?

Nell: Mutley enjoys a plain sponge, so Poppy has made one in the shape of a piano. Harriet is icing it under her guidance. There will be 15 candles, of course.

Me: It all sounds under control.

Nell: Hopefully. The Cat is responsible for the decorations which is a slight concern. I am expecting lots of glitter.

Me: Yes. What about entertainment?

Nell: Mutley’s swing band are flying in from the United States.

Me: He will be delighted. Where is he?

Nell: Charlie has taken him for a round of golf and drinks at the club house.

Me: Nell, there’s a Great Dane at the gate talking to Dave.

Nell: It will be Ron Gilbert from Torquay. The Cat roped him in to do the lighting.

Me: Dave just gave him a handbag and he’s putting something in it.

Nell: What? It’s my handbag, isn’t it? I can see Gladys and Rita Pawreno peering out. Are those castanets?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The real surprise

Nell: Well, that was an afternoon tea to remember.

Me: You should have seen your face when Charlie walked in.

Nell: I may have been a little overcome.

Me: I was in tears and so was Dave. He even dropped his scone.

Nell: Little Harriet was happy too. She hasn’t seen him since he rescued her.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I had no idea Charlie was even in the country. And you all knew?

Me: Yes. It was so difficult keeping it a secret. Dave kept having to run up and down the garden with a towel in his mouth.

Nell: Charlie told me that he and David have been in contact on WoofsApp since Harriet’s kidnapping.

Me: Yes, they text regularly. When Dave first told him you were seeing Sebastian, Charlie was furious.

Nell: Yes. I expect he was.

Me: And when Mutley remembered who he really was, Charlie said he was coming down here to sort him out.

Nell: Did he indeed?

Me: Yes. He was outraged apparently. He told us to keep quiet.

Nell: Well. Sebastian, or rather Sid, is history. Mutley says I am not to worry about him. He has gone back to London.

Me: Mutley paid him a visit, did he? Took him out for an airing?

Nell: Honestly, listen to yourself. It is true that Mutley visited Sid accompanied by Charlie and he was persuaded to leave. But no violence was involved.

Me: So he won’t be swimming with the fishes?

Nell: Just stop. Charlie is staying down here for a few days, by the way, so we can spend some time together.

Me: Good. He will be here for Mutley’s birthday party.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Nell, did you know Dave was in touch with Charlie?

Nell: Why?

Me: I just wondered because none of us ever understood what you saw in Sebastian.

Nell: He was amusing. Nothing more.

Me: Or was he a way of making Charlie jealous?

Nell: I beg your pardon.

Me: Of making sure he came back?

Nell: You see. There you go again. As if I would do such a thing.

Me: Yes. Silly me. Sorry.


A Fishmonger

Nell: Sebastian is a fishmonger?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Called Sid?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Sid the Fish?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Mutley met him at Billingsgate fish market in London?

Me: Yes. He supplies all the restaurants and pubs. Apparently he looks quite different without his apron and white hat.

Nell: Why the pretence?

Me: He needed inside information so the Beefies could blackmail Jago and get the cafe. He posed as Sebastian, managed to join the Salcombe Set and befriended you.

Nell: The bounder. I feel such a fool. You all knew he wasn’t trustworthy. Why didn’t I listen? I’m normally such a good judge of character.

Me: Well, apart from Richard Price who turned out to be a Russian spy.

Nell: Thank you for reminding me.

Me: I’m so sad that Sebastian broke your heart, Nell.

Nell: Broke my heart? Certainly not. My heart was never his to break. It belongs to someone else entirely.

Me: Charlie?

Nell: I’m not likely to tell you, am I? You definitely can’t keep a secret. Now, where’s that surprise tea? I am in need of one of Poppy’s scones.

Me: Yes, sorry.



Me: Why is Poppy whispering in Harriet’s ear?

Nell: They are planning a secret afternoon tea for me.

Me: Why is it a secret?

Nell: They want to surprise me. To lift my spirits after my disastrous dinner with Sebastian.

Me: Do they know you know?

Nell: Of course they don’t know I know. If they knew I knew, they wouldn’t be whispering.

Me: I suppose not. How do you know, by the way?

Nell: David. He said I was not to worry as there would definitely be no fish in the surprise sandwiches. Just egg and cress, and local ham followed by Poppy’s scones and a Victoria Sandwich.

Me: Your favourite cake.

Nell: Yes. I said: “What surprise sandwiches and why would I worry?”

Me: Right.

Nell: And he said: “Oops. I mentioned fish.”

Me: Quick thinking.

Nell: What do you mean by that?

Me: Well, we are all trying not to mention fish at the moment.

Nell: What? Anyway, I made him tell me everything.

Me: Obviously not really everything.

Nell: Why?

Me: Oops.

Nell: What is going on? You’ve got that pained look on your face like a dog with a cold wet tail.

Me: Mutley remembered where he met Sebastian.

Nell: That’s good. Maybe it will shed some light on proceedings.

Me: It will certainly do that.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: It’s not my place to say.

Nell: This isn’t Downton Abbey you know. You don’t have a place.

Me: Well, you do sometimes remind me of the Dowager Countess.

Nell: Stop prevaricating and answer me.

Me: I think you should ask Mutley.

Nell: I will. Where is he?

Me: He’s gone to see John.

Nell: Why?

Me: Would you like another cup of Earl Grey?

Nell: No, I would not. You are going to tell me what you know. Right now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The Takeaway

Me: You’re back early from dinner.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Is everything ok?

Nell: Not really.

Me: What happened?

Nell: It all started well. Champagne and those little canapés from Barks and Spencer.

Me: I like those.

Nell: But the main course was quite a shock.

Me: Was it offal? It’s very “in” at the moment.

Nell: What are you talking about? No. It was a takeaway.

Me: That’s disappointing and rather lazy. He could have made an effort.

Nell: From Starbeaks.

Me: No? I can’t believe it. What was it like?

Nell: I didn’t eat it. I left. John is Poppy’s fiancé. He is family and so is Jago. I’m not supporting the Beefies.

Me: Quite right. What did Sebastian say?

Nell: He said I was overreacting and he will call me tomorrow.

Me: What are you going to do?

Nell: I am not going to do anything. But Mutley needs to try and remember how he knows Sebastian. Something isn’t right.

Me: Yes.

Nell: In the meantime, please try not to let your imagination run away with you. It was just a takeaway.

Me: Yes. It’s all a bit fishy though, isn’t it?

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.


Don’t drink out of the bird bath, David.

Nell: Is David drinking out of the bird bath again?

Me: Yes. Kev just filled it with fresh water.

Nell: I told him not to. It’s unhygienic.

Me: Yes. He has a huge bowl of water inside.

Nell: I’m not surprised he is thirsty. He and The Cat were eating bacon sandwiches and rapping by the quay this morning. I saw them.

Me: Red, or brown?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Sauce. I always choose brown. Did you say rapping?

Nell: Yes. It’s David’s latest craze. The Cat enjoys the bling of course. I’m surprised it can walk with all those gold chains.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: When he starts rapping at me I just tell him to chill.

Me: You do?

Nell: Yes, it was Mutley’s idea. It seems to work and he stops. The trouble with rapping is it tends to go on a long time so we just clip its claws.

Me: Don’t you mean nip it in the bud?

Nell: No. Anyway, I was having lunch with the girls after my Pilates class and word is that the Beefies have branched out.

Me: How?

Nell: Apparently they’ve started doing takeaways, hence the caps, and they are proving extremely popular.

Me: Everyone likes fish and chips I suppose and the fish is freshly caught.

Nell: It’s freshly stolen, you mean.

Me: It’s funny but even if they actually caught the fish I don’t think I would fancy it. All covered in seagull spit.

Nell: Seagull spit? What are you talking about? I worry about you sometimes.

Me: How’s Sebastian?

Nell: He’s fine. He’s invited me over to his place this evening for dinner on his terrace overlooking the bay.

Me: Lovely. Make sure James waits for you in the car. Just in case.

Nell: For Goodness Sake. Stop fussing.

Me: I can’t help it. There’s something fishy about Sebastian.

Nell: Do stop. Let me enjoy myself. I will be fine. Now pass me a scone, I only had salad for lunch.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Counting ants

Nell: Is Harriet counting ants again?

Me: Yes.

Nell: She only does that when she is stressed.

Me: Why is she stressed?

Nell: There was an altercation between David, Jim and a couple of Beefies down at the beach.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Harriet was caught in the middle.

Me: What happened?

Nell: They were enjoying a sausage sizzle at the Beachhut when a Beefie wearing a cap came up to them and started screaming about fish.

Me: They do scream, don’t they? Did you just say wearing a cap?

Nell: Yes. It was going on about fish being brain food and how everyone should eat it.

Me: Fish is good for you.

Nell: That’s not the point. Jim asked it politely to leave so they could enjoy their sausages in peace.

Me: Good for Jim.

Nell: Unfortunately David became annoyed. I think his paw was probably hurting,

Me: Maybe.

Nell: Anyway, He squirted the Beefy with ketchup.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The next thing they knew a whole flock of Beefies descended and started stealing their sausages and getting red onion marmalade everywhere.

Me: Not good. Were they all wearing caps?

Nell: Yes.

Me: How odd. You don’t think of Beefies getting sunstroke, do you?

Nell: They were advertising Starbeaks not protecting themselves from the sun. Do keep up.

Me: Well, they weren’t doing a very good job.

Nell: You are missing the point again. Harriet found it distressing and now she is counting ants.

Me: Of course. Sorry.