Wedding preparations

Me: What a beautiful sandy face.

Nell: Thank you.

Me: I did enjoy our swim. The sea wasn’t too cold once I got used to it. How are the wedding preparations coming along?

Nell: I’m a little worried that Susan and Malcolm will get their cloaks wet during the ceremony on Saturday. Surfboards can wobble.

Me: Let’s hope there aren’t any waves.

Nell: I know the majority of the guests have fur or feathers, but nobody likes a wet coat.

Me: Quite. How about the food? Will there be a cream tea?

Nell: Afternoon tea with Poppy’s scones and Malcolm’s macarons will take place directly after the ceremony.

Me: What time is the ceremony?

Nell: 2pm. Some guests are flying in from further afield, so to speak. Did I tell you that the Royal Owl Force are doing a fly past?

Me: How lovely.

Nell: They will be joined by a flamboyance of flamingos. Count Bingo is determined to make it a special day.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: Poppy has been working on the cake for days. I think it’s going to be quite something.

Me: It’s not prawn flavoured, is it?

Nell: No. Poppy decided a prawn cake might be a little too challenging for some. Myself included.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: It’s a Baked Alaska.

Me: How on earth is Poppy going to serve that on the beach? There’s ice cream in it and hot meringue on the outside.

Nell: Fortunately Gelato Spinone has an ice cream van and Poppy always carries a blow torch. It will be assembled at the last minute.

Me: Will there be anything on the top?

Nell: Of course there will. A polite and beloved sugar flamingo with a gentle little seagull by his side. The perfect couple in my eyes.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


I’m worried about the Gulls

Me: Why are you two looking at me like that?

Nell: You are disturbing an important conversation.

Me: You’re just having a good old chinwag over a half eaten antler.

Nell: I beg your pardon. That happens to be David’s thinking antler. Chewing helps him concentrate. You chew gum and we chew antlers.

Me: I don’t chew gum.

Nell: You know exactly what I mean. We are preparing David’s speech for the wedding. He needs to praise the bridesmaids.

Me: Well, Harriet is easy to praise. Beautiful and clever with an amazing singing voice. Oh, and mysterious of course.

Nell: Mysterious?

Me: Well, she’s a spy.

Nell: We don’t want to broadcast the fact though, do we? Honestly, I despair of you sometimes. I really do.

Me: I suppose we don’t.

Nell: One struggles where to begin with Gladys. Her skills are so varied.

Me: Dave has to mention her dancing.

Nell: Yes and she will be performing during the ceremony. An interpretive dance of love.

Me: Will there be scarves?

Nell: Scarves?

Me: Or feathers? She’ll need something floaty.

Nell: I’ve no idea. I’m worried about the Gulls.

Me: Why don’t you just say Girls like everyone else? Why say it in that posh voice?

Nell: I’m talking about Susan’s Gulls. Her bridesmaids.

Me: You’re doing it again.

Nell: What am I supposed to call them?

Me: They’re awfully quiet for seagulls.

Nell: I know.

Me: Like they wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

Nell: Nobody is booing Malcolm’s Canadian cousins. It’s kind of them to make the long journey over here.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: The Cat has insisted on pink feather headdresses. I’m not sure they’re going to cope. You don’t look at them and think showgirls do you?

Me: Or even showgulls?

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.


The hat has to be right

Me: What are you doing?

Nell: David was being cheeky and needed a firm nudge. Your hat’s not right. Far too pink.

Me: I thought pink was Malcolm’s colour.

Nell: It’s too feathery.

Me: Alejandro is wearing an Aztec crown.

Nell: That’s different. He’s the carriage.

Me: Dave’s wearing a sequinned top hat.

Nell: Of course. He’s one of the best men.

Me: One of them?

Nell: Yes, Malcolm couldn’t decide, so he’s having four.

Me: Four?

Nell: Yes, David, Timothy, Owl Pacino and Poppy.

Me: Poppy isn’t a man.

Nell: No, she’s a Maltese cross. You know that.

Me: How many bridesmaids is Susan having?

Nell: A whole flock plus Gladys and Harriet. I’m the Maid of Honour.

Me: Is Humphrey the heron accompanying her?

Nell: Yes, he’s her adoptive father and so is Stephen Seagull, as he’s her biological one. And he insisted.

Me: Well, two fathers is certainly different, but understandable.

Nell: Malcolm is having four. Mutley, Count Bingo, Charlie and Kev.

Me: Kev didn’t tell me.

Nell: It’s all been very hush hush and you know what you’re like.

Me: I can keep a secret. Sometimes.

Nell: Anyway, they’ll all be wearing wetsuits and top hats. Sequinned, of course. Count Bingo and Kev will carry surfboards.

Me: Any particular reason?

Nell: Susan and Malcolm will be perched on surfboards during the ceremony.

Me: I presume Peter the Pelican is presiding?

Nell: Yes, if all goes well.

Me: Anything for me to do?

Nell: The mother of the groom usually takes a backseat.

Me: But Malcolm’s mother can’t be there.

Nell: He says you’re like a mother to him. He just needs to know you’re there.

Me: I’m touched.

Nell: Yes. So, now you know why the hat has to be right.

Me: Yes. I do. Sorry.


Hats are a must at weddings

Nell: Harriet needs to talk to you about hats.

Me: Hats?

Nell: We were discussing Malcolm and Susan’s wedding at Morning Thoughts.

Me: Do I have to wear one?

Nell: I can’t believe you even asked that question. Hats are an absolute must at a wedding and you do not have a good record.

Me: I have my all encasing spy hat.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Could I wear a fascinator?

Nell: No. Gladys can carry it off but not you.

Me: Oh dear. Maybe Alejandro will lend me his Aztec crown.

Nell: There are so many reasons why that’s a bad idea, apart from the fact he will be wearing it when he takes the bride and her father to the beach.

Me: Are they getting married on the beach then?

Nell: Yes, of course. Where have you been during all the discussions?

Me: Somewhere else.

Nell: In your little bubble I expect. We have permission for a barbecue and a bouncy castle. Count Bingo and the Flamingoes are playing.

Me: I hope Dave and Gladys are dancing.

Nell: They will be when David has recovered from the Wimbledon final. He’s a big Federer fan.

Me: Oh dear. Poor darling boy. When is the wedding?

Nell: Next weekend. Honestly, you never listen. Anyway, Harriet needs you to go over to The Cat’s to try on hats.

Me: And then over to Bess’s to try on dresses.

Nell: Who is Bess?

Me: Nobody. I was making a joke.

Nell: Well, don’t. I have more than enough in my bowl without some pushy wardrobe mistress called Bess getting in the way.

Me: Bess isn’t pushy. She is rather sweet and helpful. Probably a shy Shih Tzu, or something similar.

Nell: There is no such thing and you know it.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The day after the shearing

Me: How did it go yesterday?

Nell: Very well. Although we have an awful lot of fleece.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Fortunately, there’s a Pyrenean Mountain Dog in Kingsbridge with her own spinning wheel and time on her paws.

Me: That’s lucky. How’s Alejandro?

Nell: Transformed.

Me: Well, he would be.

Nell: He’s like a different animal. He must have danced the whole evening.

Me: Bless him.

Nell: He insisted on giving us all rides around the garden. Even David.

Me: Gosh. I’d like to have seen that.

Nell: I think someone filmed it on their iBone so it’s probably on YouChewed by now. Search under ‘labrador wearing sequinned top hat riding alpaca’ and you’ll find it.

Me: So Dave was wearing a top hat?

Nell: Everyone was wearing a hat. Well, Alejandro had a sort of Aztec crown. Extraordinary thing. Like a peacock.

Me: Where did it come from?

Nell: Don’t ask me. The Cat was in charge of costumes.

Me: I’m so glad it all went well.

Nell: Yes, although a high spirited alpaca is quite tiring, to be honest. Not everyone wants to welcome the rising of the sun. Some of us like a lie in on a Sunday.

Me: True.

Nell: So what time are you arriving?

Me: My train gets in at 5pm. Will you be there?

Nell: Of course I will. You and me. Always.

Me: Yes. So will you be arriving at the station on an alpaca wearing a crown?

Nell: Certainly not. I agreed to a quiet walk around the garden and I may even have worn a feathered crown briefly, but that was yesterday.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Kev and I will be driving over in the car to collect you as usual. No crowns and definitely no alpacas.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Any Cream Will Do

Nell: What on earth is going on?

Me: Xav the kitten spooked Cousin Boo.

Nell: Well, you need to put a stop to it. Boo is a senior Labrador and deserves respect.

Me: Yes. How’s everything at home?

Nell: Jason Doberman is arriving soon. He says shearing is stressful.

Me: Is Alejandro worried about it, too?

Nell: Yes. That’s why certain measures have been put in place.

Me: What are they?

Nell: David and the Welsh corgi choir are going to sing while Gladys performs a contemporary dance. Completely pointless of course.

Me: Why?

Nell: Alejandro will be wearing a blindfold.

Me: He will?

Nell: Yes, it’s best for him not to see what’s going on.

Me: But he might want to.

Nell: Do you watch the nurse taking your blood?

Me: No, I have to lie down in case I faint.

Nell: Well, then.

Me: But I manage to watch my hairdresser.

Nell: This is an all over cut apart from the head and legs and alpacas worry.

Me: I’d worry about a style like that. Won’t he look like he’s wearing a wig and bloomers?

Nell: It’s standard for alpacas. Anyway, where was I?

Me: Singing.

Nell: Yes. Mutley will also be on hand to tell him Tales of his Youth.

Me: We all enjoy those, don’t we?

Nell: Yes, but Alejandro only speaks Spanish so he is going to struggle.

Me: Could you translate?

Nell: That’s an idea. Malcolm and Poppy are providing a cream tea.

Me: If Jason is eating then Any Cream will Do.

Nell: Have you been waiting to say that?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Good. The Whippets Institute minibus has finally arrived and they’ve brought their fans.

Me: Why?

Nell: Temperature control. Alpacas get hot when they’re stressed. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


I can’t have a kitten as a cousin

Nell: Would you like to explain yourself?

Me: It’s just your cousin Naughty Nigel.

Nell: Yes, and there appears to be a photo of a very small cat with claws.

Me: That would be Xav. He’s a kitten.

Nell: A kitten?

Me: Yes. Nigel isn’t too sure about him.

Nell: I’m on Nigel’s side. You are not considering bringing him back with you I hope?

Me: Of course not. He belongs to my niece Scarlett.

Nell: Only I know what you’re like about kittens and puppies.

Me: Don’t worry. How is Dave?

Nell: He had a couple of bacon sandwiches for breakfast and is feeling a lot stronger.

Me: And Alejandro? Still woolly?

Nell: Well, Poppy has heard of a sheep shearer from South Australia who also specialises in alpacas.

Me: That’s an awfully long way away, Nell. Alejandro only just got here from Ecuador.

Nell: No. The sheep shearer is in Devon visiting relatives. His name is Jason Doberman. He does a lot of singing too. You might have heard of him.

Me: You don’t mean Jason Donovan do you?

Nell: No. Who is he? Jason is a distant cousin of John the Doberman’s and he has an amazing technicolour coat.

Me: This all sounds familiar.

Nell: In fact, we are thinking of making one for Alejandro.

Me: What a good idea.

Nell: Yes. The Cat is busy designing it right now.

Me: Talking of cats and cousins, I suppose Xav is a distant cousin of yours when you think about it.

Nell: I cannot have a kitten as a cousin. Don’t be ridiculous. I can accept a flamingo and a Pomeranian and even an alpaca, but a kitten is too much.

Me: You would love him. He’s ever so feisty. Just like you.

Nell: Enough.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Abandonment issues

Me: What’s the matter with Dave?

Nell: He thinks if he keeps his eyes tight shut you might not go. You can’t keep doing this you know.

Me: Doing what?

Nell: Leaving with no warning.

Me: I’m just going to visit my sister Charlotte for a few days.

Nell: Well, David thinks you’re never coming back.

Me: I’ll be back on Sunday.

Nell: Leaving me to cope with a giant Labrador with abandonment issues and a homesick alpaca.

Me: Oh dear. I didn’t know Alejandro was homesick. Can’t Gladys comfort him?

Nell: She’s tried everything. Wearing a poncho, curing fish in lime juice, singing that Lady Baba song.

Me: Don’t you mean Lady Gaga?

Nell: Certainly not. Is Gaga a singing sheep too?

Me: No.

Nell: Well then. Anyway, nothing is working. He just keeps weeping. Have you seen an alpaca cry? Malcolm has run out of handkerchiefs.

Me: Do we know any other Ecuadorians?

Nell: No. I think the chihuahuas are Mexican going by their hats.

Me: This might sound odd but maybe he needs clipping.

Nell: An interesting thought. Poppy is feeling so much better since she was clipped.

Me: I noticed he still had his winter coat so he might be feeling a bit hot.

Nell: Yes, and we could make something from the wool.

Me: Yes, a nice blanket to remind him of home.

Nell: I’m not sure a blanket made from my own fur would remind me of home.

Me: Labradors don’t produce wool, Nell.

Nell: Never mind. So all we need now is an alpaca shearer. I’m sure there are lots of those in Devon.

Me: I’m not.

Nell: It was a joke. I wonder if a sheep shearer would do? I’ll ask Jim the Farm Dog. You’d better start packing.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What do Ecuardorians eat for breakfast?

Nell: I’m glad to see little Ollie is wearing his seatbelt.

Me: Yes. Tony says he is a bit of a scallywag. I can’t wait to meet him.

Nell: Once he has had all his inoculations he will be able to visit us.

Me: What was Poppy whispering to you and Dave by the way?

Nell: If she was whispering, and I am not saying she was, then it would have been confidential and none of your business.

Me: Oh, I just wondered.

Nell: If you must know she was asking what Ecuardorians usually eat for breakfast?

Me: Why?

Nell: Perhaps because we have an Ecuardorian alpaca asleep in a hammock in the garden and he’s going to be hungry when he wakes up.

Me: Oh yes. I forgot. What do they eat?

Nell: Café con humitas will do for now. Although a few empanadas de verde would probably be welcomed but I’m not sure we have any green plantain.

Me: Gosh. I was thinking boiled eggs and soldiers.

Nell: In Ecuador? David suggested bacon sandwiches but then he always does.

Me: It’s so lovely to have Gladys home again. Everyone was dancing.

Nell: Where did those chihuahuas come from? I didn’t invite them.

Me: I have no idea but I loved the hats.

Nell: David and Alejandro are going surfing later.

Me: Do alpacas surf?

Nell: I don’t see why not, although paddle boarding might be a better idea.

Me: Alejandro is awfully sweet with his Ecuadorian accent.

Nell: Harriet offered to teach him English but Gladys gave her a hard stare.

Me: Gladys is in no position to be jealous with three suitors. Although I can’t see Count Bingo crying into his cornflakes for long.

Nell: Count Bingo doesn’t eat cornflakes. He likes muesli with fresh berries.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Sleeping arrangements

Me: Harriet looks beautiful.

Nell: She is doing her Morning Thinking.

Me: I see.

Nell: She needs to take the straw out of her mouth, though. I keep telling her chewing is unattractive but she says it helps her think.

Me: Fair point.

Nell: By the way, Kev isn’t happy with Alejandro’s sleeping arrangements.

Me: What sleeping arrangements?

Nell: I thought the Man Shed would be the ideal place.

Me: It’s Kev’s recording studio, Nell. He’s a voiceover artist. He can’t have an alpaca chewing in the background.

Nell: I’m sure Alejandro can keep quiet. But never mind, I’ll find another solution.

Me: When do they arrive?

Nell: Gladys texted David to say they should be here this afternoon. There was a slight altercation with a Dartmoor pony this morning which has delayed them.

Me: What on earth are they doing on Dartmoor?

Nell: How should I know? Hiking I expect, like everyone else. Anyway we have other things to worry about.

Me: What?

Nell: Count Bingo Flamingo is most unhappy about Gladys’s attachment to Alejandro. He told Malcolm he wants to meet him and has invited himself to dinner.

Me: He’s always been fond of Gladys.

Nell: And so has Ron Gilbert. He’s coming too.

Me: The Great Dane from Torquay?

Nell: Of course. How many suitors do you think Gladys has?

Me: I’m beginning to wonder.

Nell: Fortunately I’ve managed to deter Myfanwy and the Welsh corgi choir and if the Whippets Institute minibus arrives it can turn right back round again.

Me: But where is Alejandro going to sleep?

Nell: In the hammock. The nights are warm and he has a thick fleece.

Me: Can an alpaca get into a hammock?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone knows alpacas love hammocks. Do keep up.

Me: Of course. Sorry.