Look what I found

Me: Look what I found. An old photo of the puppies.

Nell: That was taken just before we moved to Devon in October 2017.

Me: Yes. They were four months old and quite unaware that they were about to go on a big adventure. Look at their adorable little faces. Bless them.

Nell: David adores his sister.

Me: Yes, I know. He’s such a loving Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Now, concerns were voiced at Morning Thoughts.

Me: What about?

Nell: The badness is spreading. The Helpline is flooded with calls.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: David has had to take on an assistant.

Me: Not Gladys?

Nell: No. Naughty Nigel has volunteered his services. He knows what it’s like to be almost bad and he is handsome and willing.

Me: But he lives hundreds of miles away.

Nell: That doesn’t matter. It’s all down to technology and the iBone and PawPad nowadays. How do you think I communicate with Little Marvin in Toronto?

Me: I didn’t know you did.

Nell: Of course. We FaceTime regularly on WoofsApp. Chris and Shannon decided that I would be an excellent Dogmother. Rhu is one too but she could do with some help.

Me: How is Little Marvin?

Nell: Struggling with Compulsive Biting which he will soon grow out of but doing a lot better on the health front.

Me: Good. Little Ollie is showing signs of naughtiness you know. He stole Sue’s wool when she was knitting.

Nell: Talking of wool. Have you seen Knitwear Wolf? I know he has a meeting with Sally today and I wondered if you had any information.

Me: Yes. He was wearing a forest green jumpsuit with brown sturdy boots. Rather dashing.

Nell: I don’t care what he’s wearing. I want to know what’s happening.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Sunday visitors

Nell: Why is there a lizard in the kitchen eating porridge?

Me: Dave said it didn’t want any bacon.

Nell: What is it doing here? It’s Sunday morning and we were not expecting visitors.

Me: I think it’s come to see Henry and Horst.

Nell: Or eat Henry and Horst. Lizards are like that you know. They can’t help themselves.

Me: No. Lesley is a nice lizard.

Nell: Lesley ?

Me: Yes. It has a lisp which is rather endearing.

Nell: Snakes lisp. How do we know it’s to be trusted?

Me: It’s wearing a bandana.

Nell: I see. Well, tell it not to be noisy as Mutley is sleeping.

Me: I can’t help but notice that someone has chewed the sofa cushion again.

Nell: Yes. We are looking into it.

Me: I hope so.

Nell: We suspect it is an old transgression that went unnoticed, or someone bounced on the cushion and burst it open.

Me: It can’t keep happening.

Nell: The matter is being dealt with and reparation will be made.

Me: I hope none of you are turning bad.

Nell: No. Biting a Cushion and Excessive Bouncing fall under Naughty not Bad.

Me: I see.

Nell: Biting a person, or other animal, and meaning it, is definitely Bad, however. Puppies are excluded. Is that lizard part of the surveillance team?

Me: If it is I’m hoping outside surveillance.

Nell: Yes. I draw the line at stumbling across a lizard in my own home. I’m still getting used to alpacas.

Me: Do we know what the plan is?

Nell: Sally will tell us when she’s ready. ‘Patience is a virtue so just sit down and chew, Often found in dogs but never found in you.’

Me: Did you say chew?

Nell: That is not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.


The answer is obvious

Me: What are you two looking for?

Nell: Even while swimming one must stay alert. The Black Claw could be anywhere.

Me: I don’t like the sound of that.

Nell: Reports have come in from trusted friends of animals behaving badly.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: A certain Flossy Mae from Georgia in the US tipped over the rubbish bin and she would never have done that under normal circumstances.

Me: How shocking.

Nell: Yes. She doesn’t know what came over her.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Fortunately she called our Helpline and spoke to our Chief Advisor who was able to help.

Me: We have a Helpline?

Nell: Of course. Animals need to be able to turn to us for advice when they feel the badness coming on.

Me: Who is the Chief Advisor? Mutley?

Nell: Mutley can’t hear. There is no point in phoning him.

Me: It can’t be Alejandro as his English isn’t that good. Gladys doesn’t do advice and Harriet’s busy being a spy.

Nell: The answer is obvious.

Me: It is?

Nell: Yes. It’s David. He knows all about making mistakes, he has a heart of gold and winning ways.

Me: And a lovely telephone voice.

Nell: Yes. Just what is needed.

Me: Do you know I wondered why he was walking around with headphones talking to himself.

Nell: He’s been taking calls all morning. Poppy had to make him several bacon sandwiches as his energy levels were low.

Me: They would be. I’m so glad he isn’t Left Out anymore.

Nell: Yes. He is safely involved.

Me: So what happens next? I heard Sally is on her way from London.

Nell: Yes. She is meeting with the surveillance team on the ground.

Me: Gladys and Alejandro?

Nell: No. Henry and Horst. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Friday Revelations

Nell: Did you want something? Only Poppy and I have a few things to discuss.

Me: It’s just I’ve been waiting for ages to find out what’s going on.

Nell: Haven’t we all?

Me: Tell me about Knitwear Wolf. Why did Charlie invite him to the meeting?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is not who he seems.

Me: Is he a jackal?

Nell: A jackal? Where on earth did that come from? No, he’s a wolf.

Me: A big bad wolf?

Nell: No, an undercover wolf.

Me: In a cardigan?

Nell: I agree that a cardigan, or any kind of knitted garment, is an odd choice for a disguise, but it works.

Me: Does it?

Nell: Yes, people don’t feel threatened by someone wearing wool. You rarely hear that police are looking for a criminal in a cardigan.

Me: Why is he undercover?

Nell: He is working for GOOD.

Me: I hope we all are, in our own way.

Nell: No. Generally Optimistic and Obedient Animals. A division of the United Animals.

Me: They wear bandanas.

Nell. Not when they are undercover. They are trying to stop the evil Black Claw organisation from infiltrating BAD.

Me: The Bad Animal Division? The one Naughty Nigel tried to infiltrate?

Nell: Yes. When Charlie realised his health was failing he knew he would need help so Sally suggested Prince.

Me: I thought he was dead.

Nell: No. Prince is Rupert’s code name. He is an international spy.

Me: Of course he is. Prince Rupert. Silly me.

Nell: Anyway, Rupert agreed and came here disguised as Knitwear Wolf.

Me: But why did he choose our family as his gang of thieves?

Nell: Every Prince needs a Princess.

Me: Wait. The flowers. It must be Harriet.

Nell: Yes. Code name Princess.

Me: It makes sense now. Sorry.


Left Out

Me: Why is Dave cuddling Mutley?

Nell: David is feeling Left Out. Mutley is just feeling tired.

Me: Do you mean left out of Knitwear Wolf’s gang of thieves because that might actually be a good thing?

Nell: Yes. According to Harriet, David needs to be protected.

Me: Dear Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: They are unrepentant by the way. Especially Harriet. She says it is for the greater good.

Me: Maybe it is. So was it them who sheared the sheep?

Nell: No. Jim and the Farm Dogs did the shearing.

Me: But why Bert?

Nell: They knew Bert would be sleepy after his usual cider or two and he needed a good haircut.

Me: Fair enough. Although the pan pipes and the dancing were a bit unnecessary, weren’t they?

Nell: They wanted the publicity.

Me: They did? Why?

Nell: That’s what I said. In fact I think I may have even raised my voice at that point.

Me: I don’t blame you.

Nell: And then I heard someone say ‘If you want to catch a fish you need to bait it’ and in he walked.

Me: Who?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf in a cardigan.

Me: Nobody walks in to a Family Meeting.

Nell: Not unless they are invited.

Me: And was he?

Nell: Yes. By Charlie.

Me: Charlie?

Nell: I didn’t know that at the time of course so I was furious.

Me: I bet you were.

Nell: He looked round the room as cool as a Collie.

Me: You mean cucumber.

Nell: I do not. He spotted Harriet, winked and said ‘Hello, Princess.’

Me: What did Harriet say?

Nell: I’d love to tell you but I’ll be late for my Pilates class.

Me: You can’t do this to me.

Nell: I am never late for Pilates.

Me: No. Sorry.


I think I need a lie down

Nell: Now, I need you to keep an open mind.

Me: I can do that.

Nell: Because what I am about to say may sound a little far fetched.

Me: After Bert’s story yesterday I think I can manage anything.

Nell: Could Harriet be confused with a princess?

Me: Easily.

Nell: Only she’s sitting at the top of the stairs and I had a sudden thought that….did you just say ‘Easily’?

Me: Yes. I think Harriet is part of Knitwear Wolf’s gang of thieves.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Think about it. And she is not the only one.

Nell: She isn’t?

Me: Alejandro has a distinct touch of the camel about him. I mean look at his eyelashes.

Nell: His eyelashes?

Me: Yes. And then there’s Gladys. She is always dancing and her hair is awfully long.

Nell: I think I need a lie down.

Me: And as for Knitwear Wolf. Anyone could mistake his green knitted caftan for a dress.

Nell: Do you think you could pass me a cup of tea? This is all a little troubling.

Me: I knew it rang a bell when you read me the story yesterday. So how did you realise they were all involved?

Nell: A small terrier delivered a large bouquet of flowers addressed to ‘The Princess’ and I was trying to guess who it might be.

Me: So you hadn’t realised it was them?

Nell: No. It may be naive of me but the idea that my family were part of a notorious gang of wool stealing thieves never entered my head.

Me: I’m sure there’s a very good explanation. We need to talk to Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: We need a Family Meeting first. I want some answers. And I want them now.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.


Utter nonsense, or is it?

Me: Why is Kev laughing with Dave?

Nell: He just read Doug the Pug’s interview with Bert the shorn sheep.

Me: Was it good?

Nell: It’s complete and utter nonsense.

Me: What on earth did he say?

Nell: Do you want me to read it to you?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘As I was settling down for an evening snooze I heard beautiful fairy music coming across the field.’

Me: BBC Introducing play some strange stuff in the evenings.

Nell: No. It wasn’t the radio. Shall I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘I looked up and saw it was pan pipes played by a magical curly haired camel with no humps.’

Me: Of course it was.

Nell: Wait until you hear the next part.

Me: There’s more?

Nell: This is just the beginning. Where was I?

Me: Pan pipes and a humpless camel.

Nell: ‘Then a tall hairy gentleman in a green dress started singing while a long haired fairy tale creature began to dance.’

Me: Not something you see every day.

Nell: ‘I was transfixed.’

Me: I don’t blame him.

Nell: ‘Suddenly a beautiful princess appeared with conker brown hair and gentle eyes. She told me to go to sleep and all would be well.’

Me: Did he go to sleep?

Nell: Yes. He was awfully tired by then.

Me: I’m not surprised.

Nell: ‘When I woke up I had lost my fleece.’

Me: Poor Bert. Was he devastated?

Nell: No. He says ‘The funny thing is that it’s the best cut I’ve had in a long while.’

Me: This is going to sound strange but I feel like I’ve seen those creatures before.

Nell: Don’t be silly. The sheep was obviously drugged.

Me: But it was a happy haircut by kind creatures.

Nell: Just listen to yourself.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


All in good time

Nell: I’m afraid there was a touch of the Mondays about Morning Thoughts today.

Me: Why?

Nell: Mutley fell asleep during Any Other Business and Poppy refused to leave her Palace.

Me: Actually I noticed her Palace is falling apart again.

Nell: Yes. Kev is going to mend it. David barged into it by mistake.

Me: Harriet looks alert.

Nell: Yes. That young lady is definitely up to something. There’s a sparkle in her eyes and a gleam to her coat.

Me: Do you think a handsome Farm Dog called Jim is involved?

Nell: I know he is. They were very late home last night. Harriet said they’d been playing Scrabble with Susan and Malcolm at The Nest and had forgotten the time.

Me: Maybe that’s true.

Nell: Susan and Malcolm were in bed by 9pm because Malcolm had an early start.

Me: Is he baking bread?

Nell: Yes. The Whippets Institute have placed a large order for baps. They are off on another excursion.

Me: That minibus certainly gets around. So where was Harriet?

Nell: I don’t know but I mean to find out.

Me: Did Knitwear Wolf return your handbag?

Nell: Yes, along with Gladys who was covered in grass.

Me: Did Rupert deliver the papers?

Nell: Yes. Pass me the Daily Growl. Myfanwy said she saw Doug the Pug in town so he must be working on a story.

Me: Doug the Pug? Do I know him?

Nell: Everyone knows him. He’s the Daily Growl’s lead reporter. Oh, that’s interesting.

Me: What is?

Nell: ‘Shorn Sheep Reveals All.’

Me: I don’t know a sheep called Sean.

Nell: No, shorn as in shaved and his name is Bert.

Me: What does Bert have to say?

Nell: Let me read it first. All in good time.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


You don’t expect mackerel on a Sunday

Nell: David is guarding Poppy’s Palace.

Me: Why?

Nell: She was hit by a mackerel first thing this morning.

Me: Oh no. Is she okay?

Nell: A little shocked. One doesn’t expect mackerel on a Sunday.

Me: Poor Poppy.

Nell: David insisted on helping her with breakfast and now they’re both resting.

Me: When you say helping do you mean cooking?

Nell: No. David excels at Clearing the Plates.

Me: Before or after the food has been eaten?

Nell: It’s a little hit and miss.

Me: He’s a Big Brave Beautiful Boy but I’m afraid a diet may be on the cards. I’m going to suggest salad for lunch.

Nell: On a Sunday? Have you taken leave of your senses? Sundays are roast days.

Me: It was just a thought.

Nell: We’ve already got fish coming out of our ears. In Poppy’s case literally. Allow us a little pleasure.

Me: Talking of pleasure it’s good to have Strictly back, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, although watching it with Gladys is rather tiring as she insists on performing.

Me: Alejandro seemed happy to join in.

Nell: Yes, but not everyone wants a Pomeranian and an alpaca dancing the Viennese Waltz round the living room. It’s dangerous.

Me: Where are they, by the way?

Nell: Alejandro is giving Malcolm his Spanish lessons. I don’t know where Gladys is, but my handbag is missing.

Me: I saw Knitwear Wolf carrying it just now. I think he put it in his sidecar.

Nell: Well, go and stop him. I can’t have a wolf waltzing off with my handbag.

Me: He wasn’t waltzing. It was more of a foxtrot. Not something you expect from a wolf, to be honest, but he’s very light on his feet.

Nell: Just get my handbag back, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


I’m not interested in sheep

Me: What a perfect early evening’s walk on the beach.

Nell: Yes, there’s nothing better after a long day.

Me: It was a bit of a long day, wasn’t it?

Nell: I certainly don’t want to spend another evening being shouted at by an irate seagull with a wasp on its shoulder.

Me: Yes, it was a bit much.

Nell: It was more than a bit much. Who does Stephen Seagull think he is?

Me: Well, he’s the head of a powerful gang of seagulls called the Beefies.

Nell: That’s not what I meant.

Me: Oh.

Nell: And that whiny little wasp Weston.

Me: Odd name for a wasp.

Nell: Hateful thing.

Me: I agree.

Nell: What on earth have we got to do with bald headed sheep?

Me: I think it’s more of a whole body hair loss.

Nell: I had no idea the Beefies even kept sheep.

Me: Neither did I.

Nell: I’m not interested in sheep.

Me: Jim is.

Nell: He’s a Farm Dog. It’s his job. I’m a pedigree Labrador.

Me: Did you notice Harriet turned a little pale?

Nell: Harriet can’t turn pale. She’s a rich chocolate brown.

Me: No. She looked worried.

Nell: We all look worried. We were trying to eat our fish pie.

Me: Yes, it was an awfully inconvenient time.

Nell: Poppy and I were looking forward to watching Celebrity Masterchef.

Me: Yes, me too.

Nell: David was so worried he ate Susan’s pie by mistake.

Me: It was fine. Malcolm shared his with her. They aren’t big eaters.

Nell: Unlike David. That seagull and his horrid little friend had better not disturb me this evening.

Me: Are you watching the rugby?

Nell: No, it’s Strictly Come Dancing. The rugby is on in the mornings. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.