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Dave is exhausted

Nell: Where is David?

Me: On my bed asleep. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: But it’s time for Morning Thoughts.

Me: I know. It’s just that yesterday’s excitement wore him out.

Nell: Running around all evening throwing cushions in the air and squealing.

Me: It was happy singing.

Nell: Talking of happy singing did you enjoy this morning’s carol concert?

Me: It was lovely and most unexpected.

Nell: Myfanwy and the Welsh corgi choir insisted. Fortunately the Whippets Institute didn’t need their minibus.

Me: Good.

Nell: They are enjoying mulled wine and hot mince pies as we speak.

Me: Isn’t it rather early for mulled wine?

Nell: Corgis thrive on it. Apparently it lubricates the vocal chords.

Me: Really?

Nell: Although I must say it doesn’t do much for the balance. I found an inebriated corgi in the Christmas tree.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Did you notice their green and red scarves?

Me: I did.

Nell: Part of Knitwear Wolf’s Christmas Collection. Attractive and warm.

Me: Rather like Knitwear Wolf himself then.

Nell: Rupert certainly has his admirers.

Me: Is Myfanwy still smitten?

Nell: Completely. He has no idea, you know. I’ve told her she is wasting her time but she won’t listen.

Me: Love is a powerful emotion.

Nell: I think it’s just a crush. It will pass. What on earth is he doing now?

Me: Who?

Nell: Mutley. He just walked past dressed as a monk.

Me: Gosh. He’s certainly put on an awful lot of weight since I went away and he’s losing his hair.

Nell: That’s not a real tummy and he’s wearing a wig.

Me: Did you know Mutley was interested in entering the church?

Nell: It’s a costume. Mutley must be auditioning for Friar Tuck. Auditions are today.

Me: Oh, I see. Sorry.

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Coming home

Me: What beautiful photos, Nell.

Nell: Yes. I thought you would like them.

Me: Our favourite beach.

Nell: Yes. It’s waiting for you.

Me: Yes. How is everyone?

Nell: In one word. Overexcited.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: David had three dippy eggs with soldiers for breakfast and ate Harriet’s second egg by mistake.

Me: It’s easily done.

Nell: Harriet was annoyed and refused to pass the marmalade so he had to have plain buttered toast.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He loves his marmalade.

Nell: When the puppies are like this the only solution is Keeping Busy.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So I’ve sent David to collect wood for the fire and Harriet is helping The Cat with the Christmas decorations.

Me: Good idea. Has Knitwear Wolf delivered the Sunday papers yet?

Nell: Yes. He’s wearing a delightful Aran sweater today knitted by a rather enterprising Irish Wolfhound.

Me: I didn’t know they could knit.

Nell: Are you speaking for all Irish Wolfhounds now?

Me: No. It’s just that they are such big animals.

Nell: Alejandro is a big animal but he is extremely light on his hooves. You should have seen he and Gladys dancing to ‘Feliz Navidad’ yesterday. It was remarkable.

Me: I can only imagine.

Nell: Anyway Rory is a skilled knitter. In fact I’ve asked him to knit Charlie a sweater for Christmas.

Me: How is Charlie?

Nell: He is doing extremely well. They didn’t think he would last until Christmas and here he is still enjoying life.

Me: That makes me happy.

Nell: Do you know what makes me happy?

Me: Earl Grey?

Nell: No. Kev and I will be collecting you from the station this afternoon.

Me: You’ve really missed me.

Nell: Just get yourself packed and on that train.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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It’s time to come home now

Me: Why do I have the feeling I’ve done something wrong?

Nell: Does St. Nicholas Day ring any bells?

Me: Oh no. It was yesterday. I forgot.

Nell: You did.

Me: Did you put your boots out?

Nell: We did.

Me: Did you clean them beforehand?

Nell: We did.

Me: Were you expecting to find presents in them in the morning?

Nell: We were.

Me: And were they empty?

Nell: No.

Me: No?

Nell: As soon as I realised you had forgotten I had an emergency meeting with Poppy, Malcolm and The Cat and we decided bacon was the answer.

Me: It usually is, although bacon in your boots might be a bit greasy.

Nell: Credit us with a little sense, please. Each animal received a note in their boots telling them to collect their present from the kitchen.

Me: Clever.

Nell: Poppy and Malcolm were waiting in their chefs outfits with bacon sandwiches and pots of tea while the Welsh corgi choir sang carols and The Cat distributed sequinned crowns.

Me: What about the non-bacon eaters?

Nell: Freshly shelled prawns, or a selection of garden leaves. We covered all bases.

Me: You saved the day.

Nell: There was a brief altercation with a bombastic Beefy in a bowler hat but it was dealt with swiftly.

Me: What did it do?

Nell: It joined the queue for bacon sandwiches with a forged note and a wet mackerel.

Me: What a cheek.

Nell: Poppy was having none of it. She said: ‘Go back to where you came from Mr Beefy. And take your smelly mackerel with you.’

Me: Good for Poppy.

Nell: It’s time for you to come home now.

Me: I will be back tomorrow afternoon. Will you be collecting me?

Nell: You know I will.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Who stole the lime?

Nell: How is everything in Buckinghamshire?

Me: I’m afraid there’s been another incident.

Nell: Don’t tell me. Naughty Nigel stole something.

Me: Well, somebody stole a lime from the fruit bowl.

Nell: That’s a silly thing to steal. Limes are sour and belong in a cocktail.

Me: Or a delicious key lime pie.

Nell: Anyway, did you find the culprit?

Me: We interviewed Naughty Nigel and Cousin Boo.

Nell: Boo is a black Labrador so he won’t have done it.

Me: Are you forgetting Dave?

Nell: David does things by mistake.

Me: They both denied it but then we found Nigel in the living room lying next to the lime

Nell: I knew it.

Me: He still denied it.

Nell: He would.

Me: Things were looking bad for Naughty Nigel when we heard laughing.

Nell: Laughing?

Me: It was more of a snigger, actually.

Nell: I don’t approve of sniggering. If you want to laugh do it openly, not secretly behind your paw.

Me: We looked to see who was sniggering and found Xav stretched out behind Nigel with a satisfied smile on his face.

Nell: Xav?

Me: Scarlett’s cat.

Nell: The cat did it. How many times have we Labradors told you this? We dogs are innocent. It is always the cat.

Me: I know you say that, Nell, but sometimes it isn’t.

Nell: Well, I hope someone had a strong word with that animal.

Me: Boo tried reasoning but Xav didn’t care and Nigel tried giving him a hard stare but it didn’t work.

Nell: They need Poppy.

Me: I don’t think threatening someone with a sword is a good idea, Nell.

Nell: I’m not talking about swords. Poppy is mistress of the Hard Stare. It’s terrifying.

Me: I still don’t think it would work on Xav. Sorry.

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Naughty Nigel does it again

Nell: So you arrived in Buckinghamshire safely?

Me: Yes. There were a few delays in London but I got here.

Nell: Naughty Nigel is looking distinctly guilty.

Me: I’m afraid he has been a little bit naughty.

Nell: If you’re going to call an animal Naughty Nigel then you can only blame yourself if he misbehaves.

Me: True.

Nell: So what did he do?

Me: He stole a penguin and ate the polar bear’s tail.

Nell: I sincerely hope you are referring to Christmas tree decorations.

Me: Naughty Nigel has apologised and will try not to do it again.

Nell: Good luck with that.

Me: How’s everyone at home?

Nell: We are coping. Although David only ate two scones for tea with jam, but no cream.

Me: No cream? My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He bounced back at dinner time.

Me: What did you have?

Nell: A takeaway.

Me: MuttDonalds?

Nell: No. Pizza Mutt. We decided on a movie night.

Me: What did you watch?

Nell: Peter Rabbit. Personally I think it was a little far fetched.

Me: Because of the talking animals?

Nell: No. The wild behaviour. If that young rabbit was living with me I’d soon teach him some manners.

Me: I’m sure you would. How are the auditions going?

Nell: Rumour has it that Knitwear Wolf is interested in playing the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Me: I’m not sure the Sheriff of Nottingham would wear a cardigan.

Nell: James Bond did. Several times.

Me: Not recently.

Nell: Still.

Me: I don’t really see Knitwear Wolf as a baddie.

Nell: If you looked at Naughty Nigel you wouldn’t think that either.

Me: I know. Bless him. Butter wouldn’t melt.

Nell: Why are we talking about butter? The naughty animal ate a polar bear’s tail.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Excuse me?

Me: Look, you and Kev yesterday on South Milton Sands.

Nell: Yes, another of our favourite beaches.

Me: I shall look at this and imagine myself there when I am away.

Nell: Excuse me? What did you just say?

Me: I’m going away for a few days to visit Charlotte.

Nell: And you didn’t think to tell me?

Me: It was all very last minute, Nell. I thought I told you.

Nell: This is something we all need to prepare for you know. Going Away can’t just be sprung on us.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: It needs Explaining. The puppies need Reassurance that you will return.

Me: Of course I’m returning. I’m coming back on Sunday.

Nell: Sunday? You didn’t say it was an extended visit.

Me: Honestly, I’ll be back before you know it.

Nell: I doubt that. Have you forgotten the welcome we received when we returned from shopping yesterday?

Me: It was like the puppies hadn’t seen us in days.

Nell: Quite.

Me: We will chat every day and send each other photos.

Nell: David will be devastated. You know how much he misses you.

Me: But Sally is staying here for a while.

Nell: Yes. She says latest events have made her realise the importance of Family.

Me: I know what she means.

Nell: No, you don’t. Swanning off to Buckinghamshire at the drop of a hat.

Me: I’m visiting my sister.

Nell: I presume Naughty Nigel will be there.

Me: Yes, and Boo and Seamus.

Nell: We always know when you have been cuddling Other Dogs.

Me: I know you do.

Nell: Well, you had better start packing your case. Cheese, or ham?

Me: What?

Nell: In your sandwiches? You didn’t think I’d let you travel without a picnic, did you?

Me: Cheese, please. Sorry.

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A lovely day

Me: Yesterday was a lovely day, wasn’t it? Look at the colours of that sky.

Nell: Yes, we were truly blessed.

Me: We certainly were.

Nell: It was a busy day. We had to get the Christmas tree from the Garden Centre.

Me: Yes. One of the trees spoke to Kev so we chose it.

Nell: If you say so. Personally, I’m glad we stopped for lunch. I enjoyed my prawn sandwich.

Me: And then we visited Faye at The Barn. She certainly loves you.

Nell: Yes, she enjoys my conversational skills.

Me: And she had drawn a picture of Alejandro.

Nell: An excellent likeness.

Me: Yes. He is going to be so pleased. I’m trying to persuade her to draw you.

Nell: Me?

Me: I could see your face on a mug.

Nell: A mug? A teacup, perhaps, but a mug? I never use mugs.

Me: No, but other people do. I would love it.

Nell: I know you would. Let’s see.

Me: Yes.

Nell: We visited your mother’s grave and you brought her a plant.

Me: I did.

Nell: Kev and I had a little walk while you talked to her.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Thinking can be done quietly and alone but Talking is best done with someone else.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: She is always listening you know.

Me: I know.

Nell: And then we went to the hotel at Buckland tout Saints for a cup of tea.

Me: And you were given biscuits.

Nell: Yes, they are most kind.

Me: A walk on the beach was the perfect end to the day. The sunset took my breath away.

Nell: The coldness of the sea took mine.

Me: Thank you for being there, Nell.

Nell: You and me always. No need for thanks.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Auditioning

Me: What on earth is Kev doing?

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: In that photo on the beach?

Nell: Auditioning, of course.

Me: Auditioning?

Nell: Yes. He’s an actor, isn’t he?

Me: I know. But on the beach?

Nell: Gladys needed the right atmosphere.

Me: Gladys?

Nell: Would you kindly stop repeating everything I say?

Me: I’m just a bit confused.

Nell: Gladys is directing the pantomime this year and we are hoping to perform it on the beach.

Me: I didn’t know. What is it?

Nell: Robin Woof and his Merry Dogs.

Me: Is Kev auditioning for Robin Woof?

Nell: No. Gladys sees Kev as King Richard.

Me: I didn’t even know there was going to be a pantomime.

Nell: Didn’t you?

Me: Nobody asked me to audition.

Nell: You and I are better working behind the scenes. You can write things down. It’s more your thing.

Me: Who is going to play Robin?

Nell: Everyone wants to play Robin.

Me: I thought they might do.

Nell: Even Malcolm.

Me: Now that is surprising, although Susan would make a lovely Maid Marian.

Nell: I think Maid Marian is between Harriet and Sally, although Myfanwy might have a chance.

Me: Who is auditioning for Robin then?

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog, David, Malcolm, Alejandro, Mutley and Poppy.

Me: Mutley?

Nell: I think he just nodded at everything to be honest. He’s auditioning for Maid Marian too.

Me: Fair enough. I’m not sure Alejandro is quite right for Robin but I can see Poppy in the role. She’s ever so good with a sword.

Nell: Yes, pantomimes traditionally cast females as males and males as females so who knows.

Me: Maybe Mutley will be cast as Maid Marian?

Nell: Drink your tea and stop talking nonsense.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Extraordinary behaviour

Me: Is Harriet feeling a little worse for wear this morning?

Nell: She and Jim went on a double date with Sally and David. They came home very giggly.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: Poppy is cooking a large Sunday fry up. Sausages, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. Malcolm is in charge of eggs. He does an excellent poached egg.

Me: Yes, it must be a bird thing.

Nell: I have never heard such nonsense in my life. Malcolm has great dedication and a skilled beak. It is not a bird thing at all. Can you imagine Count Bingo Flamingo cooking eggs? Or a Beefy?

Me: I would rather not.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Where did they all go last night?

Nell: There’s a new jazz club in Kingsbridge. A rather talented American stallion runs it. Gregory Snorter. You might have heard of him. Always wears an all concealing hat for some reason.

Me: Like me?

Nell: Not even remotely like you.

Me: Oh.

Nell: He has a wonderful voice and a charming manner. I think he’s an old friend of Knitwear Wolf’s.

Me: Well, Knitwear Wolf has a lovely voice too.

Nell: Talking of lovely voices, did you hear Myfanwy’s solo at Morning Songs?

Me: No, I didn’t.

Nell: She sang ‘Honey, Honey’, an ABBA song and highly inappropriate for a Sunday morning. I was expecting carols.

Me: I love it.

Nell: Gladys and Alejandro were dancing around the house and the Welsh corgi choir joined in with great enthusiasm. Waving paws and performing pirouettes. Extraordinary behaviour.

Me: I wish I’d seen it.

Nell: Myfanwy was singing to Rupert, of course.

Me: Do you think he knows?

Nell: He has no idea. Where is David going with those sausages?

Me: The dining room?

Nell: It’s not upstairs. Stop him.

Me: Yes. Sorry.