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What a wonderful day

Me: I think you look beautiful.

Nell: I wasn’t expecting my photo in The Growl on Sunday. They’re calling me ‘Matriarch Nell Martin.’

Me: That’s what you are. Wasn’t it a beautiful wedding?

Nell: Yes, I have to say it all went really well. Susan’s entrance on the top of Alejandro’s Aztec crown was magnificent with all her Gulls on his back.

Me: Yes and you, Gladys and Harriet dancing in front with sequinned scarves.

Nell: Harriet and I didn’t dance. We strolled elegantly. We left the dancing to Gladys.

Me: Malcolm was terribly nervous until David sang to him softly.

Nell: Yes, that always seems to help. David has a lovely voice.

Me: When the Beefies started gathering I was worried.

Nell: Stephen Seagull had them under control and they simply lined up along the cliffs and watched quietly.

Me: Apart from Romeo.

Nell: Yes. All that weeping and wailing. Thank goodness Poppy intervened.

Me: When she lifted her sword I thought she was going to cut his head off.

Nell: Yes. I wondered for a moment.

Me: But then she speared a scone from the buffet table and shoved it in his beak.

Nell: At least it kept him busy during the whole ceremony.

Me: It was such a lovely day. The cake was a triumph. How are the newlyweds?

Nell: Blissfully happy. Just as it should be. Poppy is flying them down to the South of France for their honeymoon.

Me: They’ll need their passports. I suppose Susan is called Susan Flamingo now, not Seagull.

Nell: Malcolm’s last name isn’t Flamingo. I’m not called Nell Labrador. Gladys isn’t Gladys Pomeranian.

Me: What is his last name then?

Nell: It’s Martin. Malcolm is Family. And now Susan is too. Malcolm and Susan Martin.

Me: Yes, of course. Sorry.

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The day of the wedding

Nell: Are Susan and Malcolm wearing their crowns?

Me: Yes, but isn’t it a bit early?

Nell: They need to get used to them. Malcolm hasn’t seen Susan today I hope?

Me: No. Harriet sent over a photo. Susan and the bridesmaids are all having a quick coffee at Starbarks down by the quay.

Nell: Decaff I hope. We don’t want jittery bridesmaids. The idea of Gladys with a double espresso inside her doesn’t bear thinking about.

Me: I’m a bit worried about Malcolm. He keeps bowing at everyone.

Nell: He does that when he’s nervous. Just ignore him. Poppy is making him a camomile tea and a prawn cocktail.

Me: I’m surprised Dave’s top hat doesn’t have sequins on it.

Nell: It’s his pre-wedding hat. You don’t think The Cat would let him wear the real one yet, do you? Now, if an Irish Wolfhound knocks at the door send him straight through.

Me: Security?

Nell: No, he’s a photographer from The Growl on Sunday. They are covering the wedding.

Me: I’m glad it’s stopped raining.

Nell: Ron Gilbert and the Australian cattle dogs have erected a marquee on the beach just to be on the safe side. Is that my iBone?

Me: Yes. It’s another text from Harriet.

Nell: Stephen Seagull has just flown in and he’s brought Romeo with him. That’s all we need. Typical Beefy tactics.

Me: What if Susan changes her mind and flies off with Romeo? He’s a seagull too and she’s always admired his long black hair.

Nell: What’s the matter with you? Susan is devoted to Malcolm. Still, I’d better call for back-up.

Me: The Royal Owl Force?

Nell: No. The Whippets Institute. Muriel and the girls are not going to let anyone spoil this wedding.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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It will wash out

Me: Dave is making Tony laugh.

Nell: He’s probably practising his Best Man jokes. I’ve told him to keep it clean. There will be puppies in the audience.

Me: Will there?

Nell: Yes. Tony has agreed that little Ollie will be allowed to watch. From a sand dune as he’s too young to join in properly.

Me: Good. How is it all going?

Nell: Fortunately Peter is out, so I can tick that off my list.

Me: Who?

Nell: Peter the Pelican. The celebrant? For the wedding tomorrow? They’ve broken him out of the zoo. Do keep up.

Me: How’s Malcolm?

Nell: Still recovering from his stag night. Poppy organised it.

Me: How about the girls?

Nell: Susan’s hen night was a quiet affair. Pyjamas and party games and everyone in bed by ten. Except Gladys.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Malcolm is having a quiet breakfast and is probably best left alone. David had a full English. Twice.

Me: Why twice?

Nell: The first time was by mistake.

Me: What about Timothy?

Nell: Just black coffee for him, as usual.

Me: Well, he is an artist.

Nell: I know but he’s not going to the wedding in a paint stained smock. We’ve already had a disaster with the sequins.

Me: What happened?

Nell: A Beefy threw a mackerel at The Cat as it was coming out of Barks and Spencer and it dropped them.

Me: I didn’t know Barks sold sequins.

Nell: It had already bought the sequins at the haberdashery. It just popped into Barks for a quick sandwich to eat later. But that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: Did Alejandro just walk past carrying Gladys in my handbag?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Were they both pink and sparkly?

Me: Yes. I’m sure it will wash out, though. Sorry.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.