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Thank goodness for Tony

Nell: Thank goodness Tony is here to give comfort to Dave. We have had some extremely disconcerting news.

Me: I know Harriet doesn’t want to play Shenanigans but neither does Mutley to be fair.

Nell: No. It’s about her visits to the Big House.

Me: Has The Cat reported back?

Nell: Yes. I am still in shock. David is almost speechless and Malcolm spilt his morning Frappuccino.

Me: Oh dear. That bad?

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Harriet has been eating pickled fish.

Me: But Harriet doesn’t like pickled fish.

Nell: I know. But that’s not the point. She has been eating pickled fish on rye bread with a Beefy.

Me: A Smorgasbord?

Nell: Bless you. It’s the hay fever. Where was I?

Me: Harriet was eating pickled fish at the Big House with a Beefy.

Nell: Yes, a Beefy with piercing eyes, long blonde hair and a beard.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: And that’s not all.

Me: There is more?

Nell: Yes. They were speaking in Swedish.

Me: I didn’t know Harriet spoke Swedish.

Nell: She does now.

Me: What were they saying?

Nell: The Cat doesn’t know. It doesn’t speak Swedish.

Me: How does it know it was Swedish then? It might have been Norwegian, or Danish, or even Finnish.

Nell: Do stop. It knows because his name is Sven.

Me: Oh. I see.

Nell: Sven Gully. He is renting an apartment in the Big House. His name is by the bell.

Me: Actually, his name is ringing a bell. I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere before.

Nell: Where?

Me: I can’t remember. It will come back to me. Sorry.

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Harriet is not herself

Nell: I have to say that Harriet was really rather grumpy at Morning Thoughts.

Me: Monday blues?

Nell: It’s probably the constant noise. David has got his work cut out liaising today.

Me: Where is he?

Nell: He and Harriet are outside on their loungers. She is refusing to talk to him.

Me: Has she sent him to Coventry then?

Nell: No. He is here in Devon. What on earth has Coventry got to do with anything? It’s in the West Midlands.

Me: It’s an old phrase meaning you ignore someone.

Nell: Why didn’t you just say so? You are supposed to have a way with words.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: David needs a new lounger, by the way. He hangs off the end.

Me: He has to stop growing soon.

Nell: I must say Harriet seems really out of sorts. She didn’t even want a share of David’s bacon sandwich and she left her porridge.

Me: Gosh. Refusing bacon. Whatever next?

Nell: Exactly. Who does that? Personally, I think it’s linked to her visits to the Big House.

Me: Do you think someone is giving her bacon over there?

Nell: It’s not about the bacon. Honestly, I despair of you sometimes.

Me: This is going to sound silly, Nell, but maybe we need to get someone to spy on Harriet.

Nell: You have a point and I know exactly who to ask.

Me: I’m definitely up for it. I can wear my all encasing hat if you like.

Nell: Not you. The Cat. It lives at the Big House and it can get anywhere. It’s clever and surprisingly discreet for a flamboyant sequin wearing extrovert.

Me: I can be discreet.

Nell: We both know that isn’t true. The last thing anyone needs is you creeping around the Big House in a winter hat. Good grief.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sunday is Lazy Breakfast Day

Me: Should I wake Harriet for breakfast?

Nell: She was very late home last night. Let her sleep. It’s Sunday.

Me: Where was she?

Nell: I don’t know. Charlie says we shouldn’t pry.

Me: She’s off spying again. As sure as eggs is eggs.

Nell: You worry me sometimes.

Me: No, it’s a phrase.

Nell: Well, it’s grammatically incorrect. Talking of eggs. Scrambled, fried or poached? Poppy is asking.

Me: Poached, please.

Nell: David is having all three. He couldn’t make up his mind.

Me: I’m not really an egg person but Sunday is an egg kind of day, isn’t it?

Nell: True. Sunday is a lazy breakfast day when we eat later so one tends towards eggs. Not that I don’t enjoy a boiled egg during the week.

Me: What did you think of the Eurovision? It was a good party, wasn’t it?

Nell: When David and Gladys turned up in platform boots I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Me: The wigs were amazing.

Nell: Yes. The Cat has an excellent collection of wigs. Mutley rather suits a Mohican.

Me: Count Bingo has got some moves. I never associated flamingos with breakdancing before.

Nell: No, but what was the flame throwing about and why was Gladys somersaulting? It made me quite dizzy.

Me: It probably didn’t do Gladys any favours. Do you think the right person won?

Nell: I have to confess I was rather taken with Australia.

Me: Dave was fascinated.

Nell: I don’t think I like the idea of David tied to a long pole swaying around wearing a sparkling crown and a long flowing dress.

Me: Just because you like something doesn’t mean you have to do it, Nell.

Nell: We are talking about David here.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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David is caring

Me: Where is Dave?

Nell: David is keeping Mutley warm and safe during his Saturday lie-in, although there is more of him out of the bed than in, to be honest.

Me: Was Mutley cold then?

Nell: No, but the weather has changed and David worries about Mutley. He’s in charge of Family Well Being at weekends.

Me: Talking of worrying what a wonderful reaction to our post yesterday.

Nell: Yes. People were very kind and brave too. There was a real feeling of community.

Me: We are lucky to have such wonderful friends.

Nell: We are. Now, what is your opinion on the Eurovision Song Contest?

Me: I’m rather conflicted.

Nell: David and Gladys have suggested an evening of spontaneous dancing. They’ve invited Count Bingo.

Me: Is he still carrying a torch for Gladys?

Nell: No. There is no need on these light evenings but he is very keen on her. It will never happen, of course.

Me: Why? There have been stranger things than Pomeranians and flamingos.

Nell: Have there really, though?

Me: No. Probably not.

Nell: David is dressing in his ABBA outfit. We need to find you something.

Me: I might be a little too old for this.

Nell: Rubbish. The Cat is bringing over its dressing up box and Poppy is making a European buffet.

Me: What about Harriet?

Nell: She says she may be going out so we aren’t to count on her.

Me: Where is she going?

Nell: I don’t know. We can’t keep her tied to our apron strings. She will be two next month.

Me: We need to organise a big party for the puppies’ birthday. They missed out last year.

Nell: Yes. The kidnapping.

Me: Charlie was so brave and so were you.

Nell: Charlie is always brave and never more so than now.

Me: I know. Sorry.

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Just let those thoughts go

Nell: It’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Me: Yes, I know.

Nell: Kev and I were discussing it when we were down by the quay. So many people are struggling alone. We all need to talk more.

Me: I completely agree.

Nell: When you first meet Kev you would never guess he has suffered from panic attacks for years.

Me: No, you wouldn’t. He wasn’t able to travel more than 5 miles from home until recently.

Nell: But he is not afraid to tell people about it. He says it helps if they know and more people have anxiety than we realise.

Me: Yes, but you have to be brave enough to do that. It’s a big step.

Nell: You do. I’m dreadfully anxious about losing Charlie.

Me: Yes, I know you are.

Nell: I feel I need to keep everyone safe and I can’t.

Me: It’s a fear many people share. Myself included.

Nell: But worrying about it won’t keep them any safer. It just takes over your life.

Me: It’s hard not to though, isn’t it? Have you talked to the others?

Nell: Yes, at Morning Thoughts. Harriet feels she has to be perfect all the time. She is stuck in a good girl’s collar.

Me: Yes. Poppy seems pretty fearless, though.

Nell: It’s bravado. She doesn’t like letting anyone in. John the Doberman has wanted to marry her for years but she can’t commit.

Me: What about Dave?

Nell: David has perfected the worried look but it is usually only about missing a meal.

Me: Do you think Mutley worries?

Nell: No. I think Mutley has reached the point of acceptance. He takes each day as it comes.

Me: We waste so much time worrying about things that will never happen, don’t we?

Nell: Yes. We do. So let’s try and let those thoughts go. If anything happens we will deal with it together. We always do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry.

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Work harder, Buddy

Me: Look at Dave hanging out with the roofers.

Nell: Yes. David is an excellent Roofing Liaison Officer.

Me: He is such a dear friendly boy.

Nell: I can’t believe the cheek of Walter Pigeon, though. Wretched bird. He keeps saying: ‘Work harder, Buddy’. Over and over.

Me: He’s local. Everyone is ‘Buddy’ in Devon.

Nell: That’s not the point. The roofers are just having an ice cream break and I’m enjoying the quiet. They don’t need scolding.

Me: Dave’s been busy.

Nell: David is on tidying up duties today. He is helping the roofers collect the debris.

Me: He’s certainly got his oomph back.

Nell: Yes. A young animal needs to be occupied. Fortunately Harriet is busy writing.

Me: Fiction?

Nell: No. Observations. It’s something she’s doing for Sally. There have been some odd comings and goings at the Big House recently.

Me: Is she spying?

Nell: We try not to use that word.

Me: Is Walter Pigeon the suspect?

Nell: Walter Pigeon is a nuisance.

Me: Is it the visiting ferrets then?

Nell: Jill and Hob Henderson? They’re usually asleep to be honest. The Cat says they need 15 hours a day.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Mind you, when they’re awake you should see the dancing and dooking.

Me: Don’t you mean ducking and diving?

Nell: No. Dooking is the sound they make. You must have heard of the ferret war dance. It reminds me of Poppy when she’s had too many espressos.

Me: She can be very jittery.

Nell: I’ve told her to change to decaf but she won’t listen.

Me: I wish you would tell me what’s going on.

Nell: Take a biscuit out of Harriet’s bowl and just observe.

Me: You mean a leaf out of her book.

Nell: I most certainly do not. Leave her notebook alone. It’s for Sally’s eyes only.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Roofing fatigue

Me: What is the matter with you all? Lying around with no hard hats on.

Nell: Roofing fatigue.

Me: What on earth is that?

Nell: We can’t take it anymore. Even Mutley has succumbed.

Me: It’s not for ever, Nell. It’s just a few more weeks.

Nell: The constant banging and the darkness. All the windows have been covered upstairs.

Me: Yes, it’s a little depressing.

Nell: And Commercial radio.

Me: Commercial radio?

Nell: I can’t stand the advertising and the jingles. Why can’t they listen to BBC Radio Devon?

Me: It’s not something we can decide.

Nell: Well, The Cat is working on sequinned ear defenders for everyone.

Me: I’m not sure Mutley needs them. His deafness must be coming in quite handy.

Nell: It’s the vibrations that get to him. The whole house shudders. He dropped his shortbread in his tea yesterday.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: You know they sing, don’t you?

Me: The roofers?

Nell: Yes. Really badly. Who wants to listen to ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’ sung in falsetto at 8am in the morning?

Me: Gladys?

Nell: True. She was trying to get David to join in the dance but he has completely lost his oomph and says he wouldn’t catch her let alone raise her into the air.

Me: Now that is worrying. Nobody wants Dave to lose his oomph.

Nell: I agree. It’s an essential part of him.

Me: What can we do?

Nell: Distraction is the only answer so I’m taking bets on the arrival of your granddaughter Baby Snail. Due date is 28th May.

Me: I’m betting on 23rd May. Do we win a prize?

Nell: Baby Snail is the prize. What kind of grandmother are you?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A chance encounter

Me: Well, we weren’t expecting that to happen, were we?

Nell: It is always good to make a new friend.

Me: There we were browsing at The Barn, one of our favourite shops at the Garden Centre, when a lovely young woman…

Nell: Her name is Faye.

Me: Yes, but we didn’t know that at the time. Anyway, when a lovely young woman called Faye said ‘I recognise that face. It’s Nell.’

Nell: Yes. Very flattering to be recognised even though I was actually incognito as I was wearing a boy’s collar.

Me: She knew all about you because of our conversations. She reads them every day and loves them.

Nell: She was certainly delighted to meet me.

Me: She really was. In fact we are thinking of doing a book signing there, aren’t we?

Nell: Yes. It would be the perfect venue. Although I have another matter I would like to discuss with you before agreeing.

Me: Oh dear. What is it?

Nell: Would you kindly refrain from calling me Noodle in public?

Me: But you are my Noodle. You know Kev and I call you Noodle.

Nell: You are oversharing again. We’ve discussed this before.

Me: Mutley doesn’t mind being called Mutliano or The Mutt.

Nell: Mutley can’t hear.

Me: Kev sometimes calls Harriet, Harry Jet Long Face.

Nell: Yes. I wish he wouldn’t.

Me: And Poppy knows she is Popsicle.

Nell: Poppy is far too busy to care about names.

Me: Do you know Dave answered to David Hercules Martin recently.

Nell: Did you have a biscuit?

Me: I might have done.

Nell: David would answer to David Gloria Martin for a biscuit. It doesn’t mean he wants you to call him Gloria in public.

Me: I would never call him Gloria.

Nell: That’s not the point and you know it.

Me: Yes. You are right. Sorry, Noodle.

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Monday prawns

Me: What are you and Dave doing?

Nell: Checking for prawns.

Me: Prawns?

Nell: Yes. The Beefies have been dropping prawns on the roofers.

Me: You don’t want to miss one.

Nell: Certainly not. Although, I can think of better ways to spend a Monday morning.

Me: I don’t like Mondays.

Nell: You need to change your attitude. See Mondays as a new beginning. A fresh start.

Me: Every time I start writing, the roofers start banging.

Nell: All right Miss Grumpy Two Shoes.

Me: It’s Goody Two Shoes.

Nell: It most certainly isn’t. Nothing good about you. Walking around with a face like a wet Westie.

Me: You mean wet weekend.

Nell: I do not. The weekend was sunny. ‘Don’t eat the prawns, David. We don’t know where they’ve been. Just pass them on to Malcolm.’

Me: Talking of Malcolm, he looks like he has the cares of the world on his shoulders. If flamingos had shoulders.

Nell: Malcolm is going through a crisis.

Me: Wedding nerves?

Nell: Prawns.

Me: You’ve found most of them.

Nell: No. He’s gone off them.

Me: I don’t blame him.

Nell: He needs to eat them to maintain his colour. He can’t get married in grey.

Me: Many people do.

Nell: But Malcolm is a flamingo. He needs to be pink.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Poppy is on the case. She is making a carrot cake as we speak.

Me: Cake is always a comfort.

Nell: It’s about the beta carotene not the comfort. Do keep up. Did I just see Gladys being lowered down in the roofers’ bucket?

Me: I’m not sure it’s called a bucket but she is having great fun. Dave wants a turn later.

Nell: Do you seriously think David is going to be lowered off the roof in a bucket? He is the size of a small pony.

Me: No. Probably not. Sorry.

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Mother’s Day thoughts

Me: Smiling, sunshine faces.

Nell: Actually those are Waiting for Treats faces. The trick is to focus intently with a winning smile. Harriet is exceptionally skilled. Poppy is over keen.

Me: I think Dave’s winning smile is a bit forced.

Nell: David struggles with the concept of Waiting.

Me: Yes. He is more of an immediate boy.

Nell: He is a product of his time. It’s all now, now, now with these young things and their iBones.

Me: I’d be lost without mine, to be honest.

Nell: Poodle has made them lazy. Nobody looks anything up in books anymore they just Poodle it.

Me: You mean Google.

Nell: I do not. Google isn’t a word. I don’t know why they had to choose a Poodle. I’ve never seen them as particularly wise.

Me: Did you know that it is Mother’s Day in lots of countries today?

Nell: Yes. David asked that know-all Alexa and she droned on and on listing countries.

Me: It’s her job to tell us things, Nell.

Nell: Insisting on us saying her name all the time. Imagine if you had to start every question with Nell and I ignored you if you didn’t?

Me: You often do.

Nell: Anyway, Alice will be celebrating Mother’s Day in Germany with Jonathan Sky no doubt.

Me: Yes, and with Baby Snail too next year.

Nell: We mustn’t forget our friends in the United States, Australia and Canada. Chris is with his girlfriend Shannon and her dear mother Ann.

Me: Yes. It’s almost everywhere today except the UK. I wonder why.

Nell: Ask know-all Alexa.

Me: Let’s just celebrate mothers around the world. Treasure them while you can.

Nell: And remember they are always watching over you from near or afar.

Me: Yes.

Nell: She is, you know.

Me: Yes. I miss her. Sorry.