Me: Seeing Dave and Tony together just makes my day.

Nell: What are you doing? You’re supposed to be resting.

Me: I have to write, Nell.

Nell: You’ve been up all night with earache.

Me: I know.

Nell: The trouble with you is you don’t listen.

Me: Yes, I do. I listen and write things down.

Nell: Stop getting all clever with me and drink your tea. Poppy has made fresh scones so you can have some later by the fire.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf brought us some fresh clotted cream from the farm shop and Malcolm has some jars of homemade strawberry jam.

Me: Sounds perfect.

Nell: We’re having a line rehearsal later so if your earache is better you can join in.

Me: It will be.

Nell: If not, it’s back to bed with you.

Me: I love it when you’re gently bossy.

Nell: In my experience when someone is ill they need a little gentle bossing. It makes them feel looked after.

Me: Yes, it does.

Nell: Now, you were talking to Alice in Germany yesterday. How are they all?

Me: Well, Jonathan is into dinosaurs and Faye is walking around on her own.

Nell: How time flies.

Me: Yes. It was so lovely to see their little faces.

Nell: Talking of little faces, have you seen Henry and Horst today?

Me: No. Why?

Nell: Don’t mention the glasses.

Me: What?

Nell: Henry has to wear spectacles and is feeling self conscious.

Me: How do they stay on? Woodlice don’t have ears. It’s a shame he’s not an earwig.

Nell: Earwigs don’t have ears either.

Me: Why are they called earwigs then?

Nell: Because people thought they crawled into your ears.

Me: Do you think that’s why I’ve got earache?

Nell: Do stop.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: Kev found this photo of the puppies when they were small. Look at their round tummies.

Nell: Some of us would prefer not to discuss round tummies, thank you. It can be a sensitive subject.

Me: Tell me about it.

Nell: No. That’s exactly what I don’t want to do.

Me: I love the way Harriet is snuggling into Dave.

Nell: Yes. David is a snuggly sort of animal. He enjoys a good cuddle.

Me: Unlike you.

Nell: What’s that supposed to mean?

Me: You can be very aloof, although you are mellowing a little in your old age.

Nell: Old age? I am 8.

Me: You know what I mean. Chloe says you’re really friendly at your therapy sessions.

Nell: Chloe is a sweet girl and the therapy mat is lovely and warm.

Me: Nell, you know I have a secret?

Nell: You have four secrets to be exact.

Me: True. Can I tell people at least one of them?

Nell: I suppose so.

Me: So, I can let them know the E-book is out now and available online?

Nell: Yes.

Me: And I just signed the contract for the second book?

Nell: That’s enough for now. The other secrets are going to have to wait.

Me: I’m so pleased my lovely editor, Peggy, is working with me again.

Nell: Peggy is very kind and patient which is essential when working with you.

Me: I’m very enthusiastic.

Nell: Yes, that’s part of the problem.

Me: I was practising my Talking Bowl voice and shocked Manuel, by the way. He said ‘Mrs Sara sound grumbly.’ His English is really improving.

Nell: You’re not supposed to sound grumbly. Just read your lines normally.

Me: But I based the Talking Bowl on you.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Sorry.


Wednesday Secrets

Me: There’s nothing like resting in front of a warming fire on a grey day.

Nell: Yes. It’s most enjoyable. Especially after being lasered and made to walk miles in a box full of water.

Me: You know the hydrotherapy is helping.

Nell: It’s exhausting.

Me: Dave and Poppy looked absolutely exhausted last night.

Nell: Yes, well that’s because Poppy had to be evil all day and David had to be bold and optimistic.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: I think he’s finding the surfboard a little cumbersome.

Me: Does he have to carry it everywhere?

Nell: He’s playing a handsome lifeguard.

Me: Yes. I know but isn’t his lifeguard jacket enough?

Nell: No. He needs to immerse himself.

Me: He nearly knocked Malcolm out with it just now.

Nell: Yes, but he didn’t.

Me: When Gladys roared ‘Behind you!’ and Malcolm ducked it was ever so funny. I think you should keep it in the pantomime.

Nell: Rupert said the same.

Me: It’s the first time I’ve seen Babycakes Gillespie laugh in ages.

Nell: He’s not supposed to laugh. He’s Weary Woof.

Me: Even tired people laugh now and again, Nell.

Nell: True. Why are you dressed already?

Me: I’ve got a Wednesday Writers Workshop.

Nell: Tracksuit bottoms are not appropriate wear.

Me: Nobody can see my lower half, Nell. I’m wearing a smart top. Anyway, they are all writers. They don’t mind.

Nell: In my experience writers tend to notice much more than people think.

Me: I suppose we do.

Nell: And then you write about it.

Me: Not always. I can keep a secret.

Nell: You had better.

Me: I can’t wait to tell everyone, though.

Nell: Not yet.

Me: No. I know. It’s just so exciting.

Nell: That’s quite enough.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Watching llamas

Me: What are those three doing?

Nell: Watching llamas I expect. Gladys is trying to teach them to be Dartmoor ponies.

Me: Why?

Nell: The larger animals were simply too large. Olive has antlers and Monty’s face is too moose like. At least the llamas have a touch of the pony about them.

Me: More camel than pony.

Nell: It’s for the pantomime. Snow Bite is lured onto Dartmoor by evil Mrs Snow. The Seven Woofs alert the good Ranger, Jim, and his trusty Junior Ranger, Ollie, who save her.

Me: What have the Dartmoor ponies got to do with it?

Nell: When the sheep start singing the ponies dance. Do keep up.

Me: Sheep aren’t very good at singing, Nell. They have surprisingly gruff voices.

Nell: Apart from Lady BaBa.

Me: Yes. She is an exception.

Nell: Don’t worry. They aren’t real sheep. The Welsh corgi choir are playing the sheep.

Me: In woolly jumpers?

Nell: No. In woolly jumpsuits if you must know. All I can say is, thank goodness Manuel can knit.

Me: Do you think the real sheep are going to be offended by the false sheep?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: You wouldn’t like it if a sheep put on a jumpsuit and pretended to be a Labrador.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Just saying.

Nell: The sheep are used to the Welsh corgi choir. They’ve been singing in their fields every Sunday for years.

Me: Not in disguise. Wait. I’ve just had a wonderful idea.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: What about a pantomime cow? Every pantomime has one.

Nell: Not this pantomime.

Me: Kev and I could play it.

Nell: Kev is our sound engineer and you are a Talking Bowl.

Me: But my part is recorded.

Nell: No cow.

Me: Ok. Sorry.


A Spicy Monday

Me: I’m not sure if I’m cut out to play a Talking Bowl. I don’t have the necessary oomph.

Nell: Oh for Goodness Sake. When did a Talking Bowl need oomph and what is oomph, anyway?

Me: You know. Va va voom.

Nell: I certainly do not. What has brought this on?

Me: Harriet yawned when I was practising my lines.

Nell: She was up early rehearsing her sword fight with Poppy, so she’s probably genuinely tired.

Me: Sword fight? Gosh. I wish I had a sword fight.

Nell: You do not. Especially with Poppy. She’s in a fighting mood this morning. She served David’s eggs devilled, instead of dippy.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: As I said to The Cat, ‘Nobody likes too much spice on a Monday morning. ‘

Me: No.

Nell: David had to have two ice creams to take the taste away.

Me: I don’t think ice creams are meant for breakfast, Nell. Couldn’t he have had a quick lassi?

Nell: Don’t be silly. I worry about you sometimes. How on earth would a long haired collie help?

Me: It’s an Indian yoghurt based drink.

Nell: Why didn’t you say so? Manuel loves a devilled egg, by the way. Gobbled them up.

Me: He’s from Barcelona.

Nell: Yes, of course. I’m afraid the spice theme is continuing. Poppy’s cooking chilli con carne for dinner.

Me: I wonder why?

Nell: It’s Alejandro’s turn to choose the menu.

Me: Oh, I thought Poppy might be one of those method actors who stay in their role all the time, so she’s serving fiery food.

Nell: I certainly hope not. If she offers you an apple, make sure you refuse.

Me: Because I’ll fall into a deep sleep?

Nell: No, because Malcolm needs the apples to make a pie.

Me: I see. Sorry.


Sunday Morning

Nell: It’s Sunday morning.

Me: I haven’t even said anything yet.

Nell; I’m trying to rest before Sunday Songs. It’s been a very busy week.

Me: I know it has.

Nell: I don’t want to listen to a Talking Bowl.

Me: I was only going to practice a few lines.

Nell: You don’t need to learn them. You will be reading and recording them in Kev’s studio. Remember?

Me: Yes. I’m just excited.

Nell: Sundays are for Rest, Recuperation and Roasts.

Me: The word is out that you might have been having a few problems with the Seven Woofs.

Nell: Yes. I’m afraid Woolly Woof has been leading Wibbly Wobbly Woof astray.

Me: Are you talking about Alejandro and Manuel?

Nell: Of course, I am.

Me: What happened?

Nell: They’re always speaking in Spanish for a start. I realise Manuel’s English is poor but we can’t have a Woof saying ‘Que?’ at every opportunity.

Me: He’s from Barcelona.

Nell: I know. Anyway, the flamenco was the last straw.

Me: Flamenco?

Nell: In the middle of a serious and, quite frankly, extremely intense scene where the Seven Woofs are trying to decide whether Snow Bite can stay with them, Alejandro whipped out his castanets and Manuel started dancing.

Me: Gosh. I wish I’d seen that.

Nell: To make matters worse all the other Woofs join in. Henry and Horst were particularly animated and even Malcolm shook a leg.

Me: What about Babycakes Gillespie?

Nell: He did a slow depressed shuffle but livened up when Princess started clapping. I wish she wouldn’t do that.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: Our Penguin filmed it all, of course, and now Gladys wants to keep it in the show.

Me: I can’t wait.

Nell: Well, you are going to have to.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Listening is awfully Tiring

Me: Dave fell asleep when I was talking to him.

Nell: He’s probably tired.

Me: One minute he was sitting up listening to me and the next he was fast asleep.

Nell: He has to do an awful lot of listening in his job as a councillor you know. Listening isn’t easy. Trust me.

Me: I don’t suppose it is.

Nell: What were you talking about?

Me: I was practising being a Talking Bowl.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: Why did you say that?

Nell: It doesn’t bode well for the pantomime, does it? We can’t have the audience falling asleep.

Me: I thought Dave would be interested in biscuits.

Nell: David had a large breakfast. It’s Saturday, so Poppy always makes bacon sandwiches. Nobody is interested in biscuits on a Saturday.

Me: But there are probably biscuits in the Talking Bowl, aren’t there?

Nell: Certainly not. Have you even read the story?

Me: Not yet, but I have an idea from what you told me.

Nell: Evil Mrs Snow looks into the Talking Bowl and says ‘Who is the fairest of them all?’

Me: Yes. That’s what I thought.

Nell: How can she see anything in a bowl of biscuits?

Me: You might have a point there.

Nell: The Talking Bowl is full of water.

Me: Of course. Silly me. The Cat is going to have an awful lot of work getting my costume right, isn’t it?

Nell: What costume?

Me: My Talking Bowl costume.

Nell: You don’t have one.

Me: I can’t just stand there, Nell.

Nell: You don’t need a costume. You’re not on stage. You are just the voice.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: Kev will record you. He’s been doing a lot of that recently and is awfully good at it.

Me: Oh, I see. Sorry.


Little Ollie auditions for a part

Me: Hasn’t Little Ollie grown?

Nell: Yes, he is such a lively, happy pup.

Me: Tony says he’s a Mummy’s boy.

Nell: You can see that he is well loved by the whole family.

Me: Yes, you can.

Nell: Anyway, Ollie is auditioning for the pantomime, so we are considering him as a Junior Ranger.

Me: He won’t have to trek across Dartmoor will he?

Nell: I beg your pardon? This is a pantomime, not a full length feature film. We aren’t going on location.

Me: Of course not. I was getting carried away.

Nell: We’re hoping to use the fields for some of the scenes and Princess’s pool will be the sea, but most of it will be in The Barn.

Me: Where are the larger animals going to sleep?

Nell: There’s plenty of room. Don’t fuss.

Me: I was thinking about the Seven Woofs.

Nell: No. You are the Talking Bowl. The Seven Woofs are already cast.

Me: Who are they then?

Nell: Henry and Horst are Wise and Witty Woof.

Me: But we can never hear anything they say.

Nell: David can. Anyway, they are going to have head mics. Where was I?

Me: The Seven Woofs.

Nell: Yes. Princess is playing Wilful Woof and Alejandro is Woolly Woof.

Me: Rather unusual names.

Nell: Malcolm has been persuaded to play Whimsical Woof and Babycakes Gillespie has been cast as Weary Woof.

Me: Because of his sad ears?

Nell: Yes, and generally low demeanour.

Me: We are missing a Woof.

Nell: That’ll be Wibbly Wobbly Woof.

Me: Wibbly Wobbly?

Nell: Yes. Manuel is perfect in the part.

Me: But he’s an octopus. Only one of the Woofs is a dog.

Nell: None of the Snows are polar bears, but that doesn’t seem to bother you.

Me: No. Sorry.


Pantomime Plans

Me: Harriet and Poppy seem exhausted.

Nell: Yes. They’re awfully tired of being rivals. They would much rather be friends.

Me: Is it about ‘Snow Bite and the Seven Woofs’?

Nell: Yes. As you know, Knitwear Wolf and I are directing the pantomime and we have to make a decision soon on the cast.

Me: I don’t envy you.

Nell: No. Now, Snow Bite is dreadfully naughty.

Me: Yes. It sounds like she is.

Nell: But she’s not evil. Could Harriet ever be evil?

Me: No, but Poppy definitely could.

Nell: That’s what I said to Rupert.

Me: I still don’t understand. Can you explain?

Nell: Well, Snow Bite is naughty but she isn’t evil. Her stepmother Mrs Snow is the evil one.

Me: Oh, I see. What is the story?

Nell: Naughty Snow Bite is the pride of her kind father Mr Snow’s life but is sent away to Devon by her jealous stepmother Mrs Snow.

Me: Poor Snow Bite.

Nell: Fortunately she is taken in by the Seven Woofs who look after her well.

Me: Thank goodness.

Nell: She learns how to surf with a dashing lifeguard.

Me: That has to be Dave.

Nell: Obviously. But it is only when she is abandoned on Dartmoor that she meets the love of her life, a handsome ranger.

Me: Jim The Farm Dog?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Will Poppy be furious if she isn’t Snow Bite?

Nell: Maybe not if we cast John the Doberman as Kind Mr Snow.

Me: Good idea. Poppy will make an excellent villain. I was wondering if the evil stepmother has a talking mirror.

Nell: A talking mirror? Certainly not.

Me: Oh well.

Nell: She has a talking bowl, though. We thought you might play that.

Me: Really?

Nell: Is that a yes?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Slide and Sly

Me: The puppies are sharing the dog bed under the kitchen table again. Bless them.

Nell: I know. When exactly are you going to stop calling them puppies? They are three years old now.

Me: They’ll always be puppies to me. Harriet seems to be watching Dave closely and he is pretending to be asleep. My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: It’s probably about the antler.

Me: What antler?

Nell: David was having a morning chew when Harriet asked if she could have a turn.

Me: I hope he let her.

Nell: Of course he didn’t. When a Labrador needs to chew, it must be left to do so at its own leisure.

Me: That’s rubbish, Nell. Those two are always sharing antlers and even you and Poppy take them sometimes.

Nell: You are talking about ‘Slide and Sly.’

Me: No. I’m talking about taking antlers.

Nell: ‘Slide and Sly’ is a game. If you have an antler, or some other treasured chew, and you lose concentration and let it drop, your opponent is allowed to slide over slyly and take it away.

Me: That’s just stealing.

Nell: No. It is a game. If you are aware of your opponent’s plan and catch them in the act, you win. David is particularly good at both pretending to be asleep and being sly.

Me: I’ve noticed him do that with Kev’s socks. For a big dog he can move really quietly when he wants to.

Nell: Yes. It’s most impressive.

Me: The times he has stolen a sock out of the laundry basket when we weren’t looking.

Nell: Clever animal.

Me: Poppy isn’t sly. If she wants something she just marches up and takes it.

Nell: Nobody argues with Poppy. She carries a sword. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.