Exhausted but happy

Nell: Well, that’s the limit. Who took that photo?

Me: Kev. You were exhausted after all the celebrations.

Nell: I look dreadful.

Me: You look how we feel. Exhausted but happy.

Nell: I shall be having a word with Kevin.

Me: Oh dear. Thank you all so much for the wonderful welcome. Jonathan and Alice were delighted.

Nell: It was rather spectacular, wasn’t it?

Me: Yes. Where do I start? We could see all the lights when we pulled into the drive.

Nell: That was The Cat. It was in charge of the decorations team with David and Gladys.

Me: Fairy lights everywhere and you all in sparkling top hats.

Nell: Yes. David got rather carried away. That’s why we were wearing sunglasses.

Me: Poppy excelled herself with the food.

Nell: Yes. Malcolm was rather shy of Jonathan but Harriet did the introductions beautifully. She hasn’t left his side.

Me: Did I see Mutley shedding a tear?

Nell: Yes. He was quite overcome to see young Jonathan and Alice with child.

Me: We must make sure she gets enough rest.

Nell: Yes. David has prepared a soothing morning song and Gladys will be performing a contemporary dance.

Me: I’m not sure how relaxing that will be.

Nell: They won’t start until Jonathan is enjoying his dippy egg and Alice has her coffee. Harriet is waiting outside their door and will escort them downstairs.

Me: You’ve thought of everything.

Nell: Of course. They are family.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


They are here

Nell: So they’ve arrived safely, I see.

Me: Yes. It is so wonderful to have them here. Jonathan has grown.

Nell: Is that Naughty Nigel posing with Alice and Jonathan?

Me: Yes, and Seamus. I wouldn’t call it posing.

Nell: I’m surprised Boo isn’t there too.

Me: He was in the kitchen.

Nell: I think David might need extra attention when you get back.

Me: He knows he is my darling boy.

Nell: Sometimes knowing isn’t enough. Extra cuddles are needed.

Me: Of course.

Nell: For everyone.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Poppy and The Cat have organised a celebratory afternoon tea. There will be sandwiches, scones and sequins.

Me: Lovely.

Nell: So when will you be here?

Me: We are leaving after breakfast.

Nell: Why are you talking to me then? We are very excited, you know. Harriet has been watching out for Jonathan since daylight. Drive carefully. It’s stormy out there.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


They arrive today

Me: Look at you yawning away.

Nell: It is early morning.

Me: I know but I need to write before I leave for the airport.

Nell: Well, don’t expect any sage advice from me. I haven’t even had a cup of Earl Grey yet.

Me: I’m having porridge. It always sets me up for the day. Would you like some?

Nell: Do I look like a Highland Terrier? I shall have toast and marmalade as usual.

Me: It’s awfully windy out there. I hope Alice and Jonathan Sky don’t have a bumpy flight from Berlin.

Nell: How many times do I have to tell you not to worry about things that haven’t even happened?

Me: I know.

Nell: Have you packed everything you need?

Me: Yes. We are only visiting my sister for one night so I don’t need much.

Nell: Now drive carefully and stop on the way, please. You have plenty of time. Poppy has packed you a picnic.

Me: I’m so excited, Nell.

Nell: Yes. The twins were completely beside themselves yesterday evening. Harriet went a little mad and tucked in her tail and ran up and down the stairs.

Me: Harriet adores Jonathan.

Nell: We all do but we must show a sense of decorum. One can’t throw caution to the wind and start running everywhere. Whatever next?

Me: Where are the twins?

Nell: Sleeping. They’ll wake as soon as Poppy brings in their dippy eggs and soldiers.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, finish your porridge and get yourself ready and don’t worry about us. I have everything under control and we will all be waiting for you to bring them home tomorrow.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Don’t post a photo of Naughty Nigel on your bed again, please. David finds it awfully distressing as he is your best boy.

Me: Yes, sorry.


A little patch of sunlight

Me: I love the way Harriet has found a little bit of sun, even on a cold winter’s day.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: It’s like life really. Search for the sunlight.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Look for the sun in everyone.

Nell: Right, that will do thank you very much.

Me: What?

Nell: There are more than enough sunbeams heading your way and they are arriving tomorrow.

Me: Do you mean Alice and Jonathan Sky?

Nell: Of course I do. Now, have you organised their room?

Me: Kev is going to do that. I’ve sorted out the bedding.

Nell: Poppy has been baking since the early morning and Malcolm has made a fresh batch of macarons.

Me: Good. They haven’t tasted Malcolm’s macarons yet.

Nell: Unlike David who was caught this morning with a macaron in his mouth.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And he isn’t the only culprit. I found macaron crumbs in my handbag.

Me: I’m surprised at you, Nell. I wouldn’t have thought of you as a thief.

Nell: Not me. Gladys. Honestly.

Me: Of course.

Nell: Have you cleaned George and filled him up?

Me: If people didn’t know my car was called George they might wonder about that remark.

Nell: I think people are way past wondering about anything you write.

Me: Probably. Anyway, I’m taking George into town today to get him ready.

Nell: Good. Now if you see any Beefies in a long black wig don’t mention it to David.

Me: Why?

Nell: There was an altercation with a group of them last night resulting in the theft of David’s wig and feather boa.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: John the Doberman spotted one wearing the wig down at the harbour and my friend Muriel the Mastiff at the newsagents said another one was wearing a feather boa when it came to collect the morning paper.

Me: How rude. Whoever heard of a seagull in a black wig? It just wouldn’t look right and why would they need a feather boa? They have feathers already.

Nell: That is not the point. They are trying to provoke David. We aren’t discussing fashion statements.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The problem with hair

Nell: What a morning.

Me: Why?

Nell: We were discussing Poppy’s hair. Harriet and I think she needs to book an appointment with Doug. It’s a little too wild.

Me: It’s very Poppy though, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, but it needs taming. She says she has far too much to do to waste time on pampering.

Me: She is busy.

Nell: David said he was growing his too.

Me: He can’t.

Nell: Exactly. He was devastated when Harriet explained his hair will never grow.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: He said he wanted a ponytail like his gardening friend AJ.

Me: But AJ is an Afghan.

Nell: And then Gladys piped up from my handbag that long hair isn’t everything.

Me: She’s right.

Nell: But Gladys can’t talk. She is all hair. She’s like Cousin Itt in dog form.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Malcolm tried to help by saying he only has feathers but that only seemed to make it worse.

Me: Why?

Nell: I don’t know. David started rambling on about the beauty of feathers and embracing the freedom of flight.

Me: Malcolm doesn’t fly.

Nell: Finally Mutley stepped in and told David to stop whinging and embrace the freedom of short hair.

Me: Did it work?

Nell: Not really. Fortunately The Cat arrived to take David to his tap class and we could relax.

Me: Yes. They are back. I was about to tell you.

Nell: Did David just walk upstairs with my handbag?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was he wearing a long black wig and a feather boa?

Me: Yes. I’m afraid he was. Sorry.


Sunday morning lie in

Nell: Could you keep the noise down, please? It’s Sunday morning and David and I are having a lie in.

Me: Our friends have to go back to Oxfordshire, Nell.

Nell: Can someone make me a cup of Earl Grey then?

Me: Poppy is cooking a full English breakfast.

Nell: Toast will be fine, thank you. Although I suppose I could manage a slice of bacon, if pushed, and a poached egg. David will have a sausage.

Me: How do you feel about goose?

Nell: At this time of the morning? What on earth are you talking about?

Me: Poppy was saying that some people are going back to goose for Christmas dinner.

Nell: I don’t know about some people but I’m going back to bed.

Me: Gosh, you are a bit grumpy.

Nell: You and your friends were playing Trivial Pursuit until gone midnight.

Me: I know. It wasn’t meant to go on for that long but the teams were so close.

Nell: I am aware.

Me: It was boys against girls.

Nell: With respect I don’t think any of you could be called boys, or girls, but I know what you mean. I hope you ladies won.

Me: Nearly. They defeated us at the last minute.

Nell: Did I see Kev dancing?

Me: They all danced.

Nell: If you had included Harriet, Poppy, Gladys and myself this would never have happened. Victory would have been ours.

Me: You are probably right but then they would have had Mutley and Malcolm.

Nell: And David and The Cat. Please don’t forget The Cat.

Me: You have a point there. Sorry.


Making plans

Me: We really must do something about that chair? It looks awful.

Nell: Feeling fragile this morning, are we?

Me: No.

Nell: Only asking. I hope you and our guests enjoyed dinner out.

Me: We couldn’t take you, Nell. There was no room.

Nell: It’s fine. We had an excellent evening in front of the fire making plans. Poppy made some delicious Welsh Rarebit which we ate on our laps.

Me: I didn’t know you liked rabbit.

Nell: Not rabbit, rarebit. Posh cheese on toast. Do keep up.

Me: I see. What were the plans?

Nell: The main topic was this year’s pantomime.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: The Cat wanted Puss in Boots for obvious reasons and David wanted Wonder Dog.

Me: I’ve never heard of that one.

Nell: That’s because there is no such thing. We finally settled on Cinderella.

Me: I love Cinderella.

Nell: Yes. Harriet will be perfect as Cinders and Jim has agreed to be Prince Charming. Mutley will play her father Baron Hardup.

Me: What about the ugly sisters?

Nell: David and The Cat. I’ve told them they can have as many sequins as they like. They were over the moon.

Me: Will you be treading the boards?

Nell: Yes. I have been asked to perform this year as the Fairy Godmother.

Me: You will be wonderful. What about Poppy?

Nell: Poppy has agreed to play Dandini, the Prince’s best friend, as long as she can carry a sword. Ron Gilbert will be stage manager.

Me: And the cafe?

Nell: Malcolm will take over the running of the cafe. The whippet has proved to be extremely capable and we have a couple of willing spaniels home from university who will help out.

Me: You seem to have organised everything.

Nell: Yes. Except we had forgotten someone.

Me: Who?

Nell: Gladys.

Me: Of course.

Nell: We were on the iBone confirming dates with Ron Gilbert and his team when she popped out of my handbag and said “What about me?”

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And that’s when Harriet remembered Buttons.

Me: Yes, of course. Gladys will make the perfect Buttons.

Nell: She will. She has an endearing quality. Rehearsals will start soon.

Me: Who is directing? I could give it a go.

Nell: It’s fine. Kev has agreed. With his experience as an actor he was an obvious choice.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: Do stop sulking. You have your book to finish not to mention some very special visitors coming soon.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Over excited

Nell: What is the matter with you? You are bouncing around like the collie who got the cake.

Me: Don’t you mean the cat who got the cream?

Nell: No. I never mentioned a cat. Is it because your friends are coming to stay for the weekend?

Me: I am excited to see them but it’s not only that.

Nell: Is it because son Chris has finally booked his flight home from Toronto for Christmas? It’s almost a year since we saw him.

Me: That is definitely part of it. I am so excited.

Nell: I have to tell you Mutley was completely beside himself with joy. He and Chris bonded years ago over a shared can of tuna and have been best friends ever since.

Me: I know. Mutley will be sharing his bed no doubt. Actually there is more. You know daughter Alice and grandson Jonathan aren’t coming for Christmas?

Nell: Yes. We were very sad but we moved on.

Me: Well, they are flying over from Berlin next week for a surprise pre Christmas visit.

Nell: They are? I must say I might just start bouncing around myself. Harriet adores Jonathan. She will be so pleased.

Me: And that’s not even all.

Nell: There can’t be more, surely?

Me: Alice is having another baby at the end of May next year.

Nell: Just like dear Meghan. What wonderful news. No wonder you are over excited.

Me: Dave is going to have to learn to be careful. No jumping up at Alice, or Jonathan.

Nell: After yesterday’s Thanksgiving turkey incident David is not to be trusted.

Me: He only ate the leg. It was quite a long way from the Big House to our home and he was hungry.

Nell: It was completely inexcusable. Malcolm was distraught. We had to serve a one legged turkey.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Let’s go and tell everyone Christmas is coming twice this year. Stop laughing at David.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Thanksgiving

Nell: Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends.

Me: Happy Thanksgiving. Mutley does enjoy wearing a hat.

Nell: Yes, it suits him. David has been wearing his sequinned version for days.

Me: I know. I’m glad we girls are in bonnets.

Nell: I’m sure they shouldn’t be sequinned too. Now, we already knew there were going to be an awful lot of people coming to Thanksgiving dinner today but there have been some last minute additions.

Me: Who?

Nell: The Portly-Martins have invited themselves.

Me: Your cousins from Purley?

Nell: Yes. Portia, Penelope and Pat.

Me: I like Pat.

Nell: Now they are big eaters, even by Labrador standards, so Poppy is in a slight panic. I suggested we can spread the word that family hold back.

Me: I’m not sure Dave will be very good at that.

Nell: No. So the plan is to cook another turkey. The Cat has offered its kitchen in the Big House and Malcolm will cook it there and bring it over with David’s help.

Me: Where are we going to get one at such late notice?

Nell: John the Doberman has contacts. He’s on his iBone right now. I’ve said James can collect it.

Me: Fingers crossed.

Nell: I’m sure it will all be fine. The main thing is that we are all together.

Me: Yes. We have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we?

Nell: We certainly do.

Me: Our loving family and wonderful friends.

Nell: We are most fortunate I must say.

Me: Where would I be without you, Nell?

Nell: I prefer not to think about that if you don’t mind. The mere idea. Now, if you can stop giving thanks for a moment the potatoes need peeling.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Don’t forget to hang your sequinned bonnet up before you enter the kitchen and wipe your eyes. You without me? Me without you? Inconceivable.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Come back soon Tony

Me: Just look at the two of them.

Nell: David and Tony are the best of friends.

Me: They are.

Nell: I’m glad he told us he was going on sick leave for two weeks.

Me: Yes. David would have been waiting for him every day otherwise.

Nell: Yes. He knows that Tony has a bad knee. He has been trying very hard not to jump but I’m afraid his emotions take over when he sees him.

Me: Let’s hope they can fix it.

Nell: They will. Now, you did well at the dentist yesterday. We were proud of you.

Me: I was so worried but I had no need to be.

Nell: Yes. That’s why we need to discuss Worrying for Nothing.

Me: Do we?

Nell: Yes. Now think of all the time you wasted worrying.

Me: It wasn’t as long as usual because you didn’t remind me until the last minute.

Nell: I know. There was a reason for that. You need to stop imagining what if and just deal with what is. There is no point in worrying about something that might never happen. It doesn’t help you, or anyone.

Me: You are right.

Nell: Think of all the extra time you would have if you stopped worrying.

Me: I hope the Replacement Tonys can deal with Dave. Only you know how he rushes out to check on them. It’s a worry.

Nell: I might as well be talking to myself.

Me: Yes. Sorry.