One of those Days

Nell: Would you mind? That’s a very unattractive angle. It makes my bottom look big.

Me: But the light is so lovely.

Nell: Can’t an animal enjoy a walk in peace without constantly being photographed?

Me: I wanted to capture the moment.

Nell: You wouldn’t like it.

Me: No. I hate having my photo taken.

Nell: Well, then.

Me: Could we just walk and talk?

Nell: Well, that rather depends.

Me: On what?

Nell: On whether you are having one of your philosophical days, which I suspect might be the case from all the sighing.

Me: I was just thinking about the strange world we’re living in at the moment.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: It’s a bit dark though, isn’t it?

Nell: It’s Autumn. The nights are drawing in. What do you expect?

Me: I mean, some days you find yourself searching for the light.

Nell: The torch is by the back door where it always is.

Me: You know what I mean. Life can get you down.

Nell: Everyone has their ups and downs and this is a difficult time for all of us. We will get through it together.

Me: Yes. The important thing is not to bottle it all up inside.

Nell: No one could accuse you of that.

Me: We need to reach out.

Nell: What you need is a bacon sandwich and a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: Yes, I do.

Nell: And a cuddle with David on the sofa.

Me: Sounds perfect.

Nell: So, that’s what we will do when we get home. Remember those we’ve loved and lost are always watching over us.

Me: Yes. They are.

Nell: Especially during times like these.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And if we didn’t have the darkness, we wouldn’t see them shine.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.



Me: Was Dave giving you a kiss?

Nell: Yes. He wants me to feel loved.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. So caring.

Nell: I don’t need to feel loved when I’ve just popped into the garden for a quiet moment.

Me: No. I don’t expect you do.

Nell: Why are you staring out of the window like that. Is it those llamas again? They keep turning up in their pyjamas expecting to be fed.

Me: Well, today is their day then.

Nell: Why?

Me: Because everyone is out there eating bagels.

Nell: Bagels?

Me: Yes. I suspect smoked salmon and cream cheese might be involved as The Cat is enjoying one, too, and you know how fussy it is.

Nell: I’m rather surprised at Poppy. I never knew she liked bagels.

Me: I’m not sure she does, especially when they’re from Babycakes Gillespie.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: Didn’t I say? He’s got a sort of trolley thing with Babycakes Bagels on the side.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Yes. I’m quite tempted to go down and try one. What about you?

Nell: Certainly not.

Me: They look lovely and fresh.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: Oh dear. Poppy has come outside. She doesn’t look happy.

Nell: Is she carrying her sword?

Me: Yes, but no armour. Babycakes has noticed her and he’s smiling.

Nell: I wish he wouldn’t do that.

Me: He’s shouting something like ‘Try a Babycakes Bagel, Baby.’ You didn’t tell me he was American.

Nell: Never mind that. What is Poppy doing?

Me: Babycakes is throwing bagels and Poppy is catching them on her sword and throwing them back.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Dave has caught three. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Poppy was having fun.

Nell: Fun?

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: Nell, can I have a word?

Nell: I’m wearing my ears up.

Me: I know.

Nell: When I’m wearing my ears up I am resting and don’t want to be disturbed.

Me: But there’s an awful lot of crashing going on in the kitchen and Malcolm has a colander on his head.

Nell: I suggest you take a look at the Daily Growl. It explains everything

Me: What did it say?

Nell: ‘Come back, Sweetie Pie. All is forgiven.’

Me: Well, that’s nice. Who is Sweetie Pie?

Nell: Poppy.

Me: Poppy? Who on earth is brave enough to call her that?

Nell: Babycakes Gillespie.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. He’s completely besotted with her.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Didn’t you notice all the red roses downstairs?

Me: I did wonder. But kidnapping her wasn’t exactly the right way to go about it. ‘If you love someone, set them free.’

Nell: Don’t start singing Sting songs, please. This is serious.

Me: I couldn’t help it. Doesn’t he know Poppy is engaged to John the Doberman?

Nell: Babycakes doesn’t care about that.

Me: But why did he take Malcolm, too?

Nell: He thought Poppy would be especially delighted to be made head chef of a prestigious hotel if Malcom was by her side.

Me: But you can’t just whisk someone away from their family.

Nell: Of course you can’t. It’s a ridiculous thing to do. And having a monosyllabic crow drive them there. Nobody needs that.

Me: Poppy definitely doesn’t. She’s an independent animal.

Nell: Did a black Mercedes just pull up outside?

Me: Yes. It’s Babycakes Gillespie.

Nell: Has Poppy seen him?

Me: Yes. She’s wearing full armour and carrying her sword.

Nell: Please tell me he’s taking the hint and leaving.

Me: No. I’m afraid he’s standing his ground. Sorry.


Home again

Me: Where is Poppy?

Nell: Outside on the lounger with David listening to Sunday Songs.

Me: Tell me again what happened.

Nell: Well, we arrived at the Imperial Hotel and were taken to our table overlooking the sea.

Me: Yes. Did you order the prawn cocktail?

Nell: Of course. It was delicious. There was a slight altercation on the larger animals’ table after David ate all the contents of the bread basket by mistake but more was provided.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: Dinner was delicious and when it came to dessert Malcolm appeared and whispered. ‘Follow the cake.’

Me: With what? A cheeseboard?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Malcom flambéd my dessert and left.

Me: Clever flamingo.

Nell: Yes. Then I noticed a huge cake being wheeled towards the ballroom.

Me: Weren’t you full?

Nell: I’ll ignore that. I managed to say ‘Shall we retire to the lounge for our coffee?’ in a loud, but nonchalant, way, so the larger animals could hear.

Me: Good move.

Nell: As we left the dining room we could hear everyone singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: And that’s when the madness began.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: Poppy jumped out of the cake with a bandana around her head and a sword between her teeth.

Me: Like a ninja turtle?

Nell: I beg your pardon? Anyway, everyone screamed and Poppy started whirling around stabbing balloons and causing havoc.

Me: That’s what pent up anger can do to you.

Nell: The larger animals joined in and in the ensuing chaos we managed to get Malcolm and Poppy out of the hotel and Knitwear Wolf drove us home.

Me: What about Dave and Harriet, and Gladys and Alejandro, and the larger animals?

Nell: They travelled in the Whippets Institute minibus. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Nell has a Plan

Me: Is Harriet cooking bacon?

Nell: Yes, to raise David’s spirits. Tony just came to say goodbye. He is off on holiday for 2 weeks.

Me: Dave is going to miss him dreadfully.

Nell: We all are. Tony is part of the family.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Now, Knitwear Wolf is taking me out to dinner this evening.

Me: Is he now?

Nell: Yes, to the Imperial Hotel in Torquay.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought you were in a going out mood.

Nell: It’s where they are holding Poppy and Malcolm, you nincompoop.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: We are going to free them.

Me: How are you planning to do that, Nell?

Nell: Fortunately I have a few tricks under my collar.

Me: Don’t you mean up your sleeve?

Nell: Certainly not. I shall probably wear a scarf and my usual Chanel but nothing with sleeves.

Me: What tricks?

Nell: Well, Knitwear Wolf is going to ask if he might congratulate the chef.

Me: Good one.

Nell: And I shall order a Crepe Suzette to be flambéd at the table.

Me: That’s a pancake, isn’t it?

Nell: Yes, with fresh oranges.

Me: What if they don’t have them?

Nell: They do. Today’s menu is online. Notice the clues.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Prawn cocktail in a flamingo pink sauce.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Swordfish.

Me: Clever. What if your plan doesn’t work?

Nell: We shall storm the kitchen.

Me: But there’s only the two of you.

Nell: Of course there isn’t. The larger animals are on a table of six with Dave and Harriet.

Me: What about Gladys?

Nell: She and Alejandro are performing a contemporary dance.

Me: Where?

Nell: In the ballroom. Babycakes Gillespie is hosting a party. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know. Sorry.


It’s all about the scone

Me: There’s a rather beautiful red setter sitting in the kitchen with Dave and Harriet holding a scone.

Nell: Yes, it’s Dorothy from my reading group.

Me: Dave seems absolutely transfixed.

Nell: Well, he would be.

Me: I suppose he hasn’t seen a scone in a few days.

Nell: Have you seen today’s Daily Growl?

Me: Yes. Good photos of Poppy and Malcolm but why is Babycakes Gillespie in there?

Nell: It was his car. Anyway, back to the scone.

Me: I couldn’t help noticing someone had bitten into it but I didn’t like to say in case Dave had done it by mistake.

Nell: It wasn’t David, it was me.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: It was the only way to be certain.

Me: Of what?

Nell: That Poppy and Malcolm are in Torquay.

Me: Torquay?

Nell: Yesterday afternoon Dorothy and Pamela went to tea at the Imperial Hotel.

Me: Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog? I thought she was on a diet.

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point. Anyway, the scones were so delicious they hid some in their handbags.

Me: Naughty.

Nell: In fact Pamela told Dorothy that the last time she’d eaten a scone like that was at Poppy Martin’s.

Me: Poppy makes the best scones.

Nell: So when Dorothy saw the newspaper this morning she came straight here with the scone.

Me: Kind of her to share, but a day old scone? Not the best gift.

Nell: It’s not any old scone. It’s one of Poppy’s. I knew it when I tasted it.

Me: Poppy’s?

Nell: Yes. She and Malcolm must be at the Imperial Hotel.

Me: They could have told us they were going on holiday.

Nell: It’s not a holiday. Poppy is baking under duress. Babycakes Gillespie is after her recipe.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


What a Day!

Nell: David hates that cone.

Me: I know. In the night Kev and I decided to re-bandage his foot and take it off. He was so relieved.

Nell: I woke up with Kev asleep on one of the sofas downstairs.

Me: Yes, he gave up his side of the bed to Dave.

Nell: Yesterday was not a good day. Poppy and Malcolm go missing and Dave rips his claw and it has to be removed.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Has there been any news?

Nell: Now, I need you to be sensible.

Me: Why? What’s happened?

Nell: The Royal Owl Force found something this morning.

Me: No!

Nell: Calm down. It was the remains of Poppy’s picnic.

Me: Half eaten? Nobody leaves Poppy’s food.

Nell: No. It was Poppy’s cake tin and it was empty.

Me: There’s more. I can tell.

Nell: Yes, I’m afraid they found one of Malcolm’s feathers.

Me: I can’t bear this.

Nell: We discussed it at Morning Thoughts and it was agreed that we should alert the police and the press.

Me: I agree. We need all the help we can get.

Nell: PC Panda is on his way and the Daily Growl is sending one of its lead reporters.

Me: Good.

Nell: We need to choose some photos of Poppy and Malcolm.

Me: Yes.

Nell: In the meantime Knitwear Wolf is continuing his search on his motorbike with David.

Me: Dave is supposed to rest and no walking.

Nell: He won’t be walking. Knitwear Wolf has put a soft blanket in the sidecar and Harriet has made them some sandwiches.

Me: How is she coping with the cooking?

Nell: Let’s just say the sooner Poppy and Malcolm come home the better. Until then it’s cereal and biscuits.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Gone to voicemail

Me: Have Poppy and Malcolm gone to their Anger Management class?

Nell: Yes. An extremely impressive big black Mercedes arrived with tinted windows.

Me: Very gangster.

Nell: Yes, although the driver was rather a surprise.

Me: Why?

Nell: I wasn’t expecting a crow.

Me: Was it wearing a hat?

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point.

Me: Did it say anything?

Nell: No. It was unusually silent for a crow.

Me: Not everyone likes to chat.

Nell: No. Malcolm wasn’t happy about it. I could tell. His feathers tend to droop.

Me: Oh dear. What about Poppy?

Nell: She was already in confrontational mode so she just got in and waved her sword.

Me: Did the crow react?

Nell: Not really. It just nodded and muttered something into its microphone.

Me: Microphone?

Nell: It was wearing one of those head sets.

Me: I know the ones. Hands free.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: But crows don’t have hands.

Nell: No, they drive with their feet.

Me: What about steering and changing gear?

Nell: They have beaks. It was probably an automatic. Stop fussing.

Me: Do you think you could call Poppy on her iBone?

Nell: What for?

Me: I don’t have a good feeling about this, Nell.

Nell: Good grief. You’re letting your imagination run away with you again.

Me: Please.

Nell: All right, I’m doing it. Do calm down.

Me: Is it ringing?

Nell: It’s gone to voicemail. They left a while ago so they’re probably in class now.

Me: Nell, the house phone is ringing. What’s the matter? Who was it? Tell me, please.

Nell: It was Peter the Afghan who runs the course. Poppy and Malcolm never arrived.

Me: What?

Nell: It looks like you were right to be worried. We need a family meeting now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Who tastes first?

Me: Why were you four gathered around Kev?

Nell: He was making a cheese and tomato sandwich and we were waiting to see Who Tastes First?

Me: And who was it?

Nell: Actually, this time it was me.

Me: Why you?

Nell: Because it was my turn.

Me: How do you know?

Nell: We don’t. But Kev knows. It’s actually rather exciting and livens up the day.

Me: Not for the cheeseless participants.

Nell: Nobody is cheeseless. And that isn’t even a word, by the way. Everyone gets a taste but it’s all about Who Tastes First?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I was telling the puppies that it is a good way of improving Waiting skills and Dealing with Disappointment.

Me: Poppy doesn’t seem too happy.

Nell: She’s off to her Anger Management class again so she’s working on her Irritability Levels.

Me: I thought it was supposed to be about calming you down not getting you cross.

Nell: Poppy is one of the stars of the course. People expect a degree of short temper from her. She needs to be in the right frame of mind.

Me: Is poor Malcolm going again?

Nell: Of course. I think Babycakes Gillespie is even sending a car for them both.

Me: Gosh. Maybe we’ll get to meet him, or do you think he will just send one of his hit dogs?

Nell: Hit dogs? This isn’t a hit. His driver is simply taking them to class.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Yes. It’s a kind gesture and saves Knitwear Wolf from taking them on his motorbike.

Me: Well, I hope Poppy takes her sword and maybe Malcolm should take a whisk, or a wooden spoon.

Nell: A whisk, or a wooden spoon? I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: What’s the matter with you and Dave? Monday morning blues?

Nell: We’re most unhappy.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: With you.

Me: Me?

Nell: Yes.

Me: What have I done?

Nell: You have shown blatant favouritism towards certain members of the family.

Me: I have?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Did I give someone too many biscuits?

Nell: This is not about biscuits. This is about beds.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: Harriet and Poppy slept in your room last night.

Me: Poppy always sleeps in our room. On our bed, actually.

Nell: And Harriet?

Me: Well, Kev thought the barking might have been because she’s lonely so he suggested we allow her to sleep in the dog bed in our room.

Nell: I sleep in that dog bed.

Me: Yes, you do when I’m away.

Nell: Why would Harriet be lonely? She has me and David.

Me: Well, it worked. There was no barking.

Nell: How do you know David and I weren’t lonely? Maybe we were silently barking all night.

Me: Don’t say that. Anyway, it was Kev’s idea so don’t go blaming me.

Nell: As long as it doesn’t become a habit. Now, Poppy wants all paws on deck this morning as she’s planning the return dinner and isn’t sure what gangsters eat. David suggested lasagne.

Me: The Mafia eat pasta but Babycakes Gillespie doesn’t sound Italian.

Nell: Have you spoken to him?

Me: No. I meant his name. It sounds Irish to me. Maybe Irish stew and colcannon?

Nell: Is cabbage right for a dinner party?

Me: Maybe not.

Nell: I’ll give Bonio a call. He’ll know.

Me: Do you mean Bono?

Nell: No. Bonio. He’s an Irish Wolfhound. Wears dark glasses and sings with a band called ChewThrough. You might have heard of them.

Me: Yes. Sorry.