Sunday Football

Me: Look at you springing into action when Kev kicks the ball.

Nell: I’m a Labrador Retriever. It’s what we do.

Me: But you will be 9 in March and you have arthritis.

Nell: Well, thank you very much for reminding me. You’re not the youngest yourself.

Me: I must say I’m feeling a little fragile today.

Nell: Too much cake and champagne. Poppy’s roast will soon sort you out.

Me: Yesterday was a lovely day. I was surrounded by love from near and afar. So many kind messages.

Nell: People care about you.

Me: It really means a lot. Especially at times like these.

Nell: Yes. It’s especially important to let people know you are thinking about them at the moment.

Me: Did I tell you Henry and Horst painted me a picture?

Nell: No. I know they both attend Timothy’s art classes and he says they’re exceptionally keen.

Me: It was on the back of a postage stamp. I’m not sure what it was, but it was very colourful.

Nell: They favour the abstract. I’m very glad Knitwear Wolf provided the Welsh corgi choir with umbrellas this morning. I do worry about them singing in the rain.

Me: But ‘it’s a glorious feeling’. See what I did there?

Nell: Personally, I’m a little tired of the rain.

Me: Princess loves it. She’s out there now with Manuel and Our Penguin clapping away.

Nell: Seals are awfully optimistic creatures, aren’t they?

Me: Yes. Kev saw two seals in the sea a few days ago. Their little heads were bobbing away. I hope they weren’t lost.

Nell: No, you are not bringing them home. We have quite enough to cope with already.

Me: Princess would be delighted.

Nell: Princess is always delighted. We just established that fact.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It’s Sara’s Birthday

Nell: Happy Birthday to you.

Me: Thank you. I could have done without the Mariachi band first thing this morning.

Nell: The Whippets Institute insisted.

Me: It’s not the gentlest way of waking up, Nell.

Nell: Try wearing this giant hat all day.

Me: Your hat is quite large.

Nell: It’s ridiculous.

Me: I think it suits you. Harriet seems to love hers.

Nell: You know what she’s like about hats. Can’t get enough of them.

Me: Kev and Dave are very stylish.

Nell: Yes, the boys look extremely smart.

Me: Poppy seems a bit disgruntled.

Nell: There was a mix up with one of the cakes.

Me: Dave?

Nell: Yes. You are going to have to change out of your all encasing hat and into a sombrero quick smart.

Me: Why?

Nell: We’re having a ceremonial second breakfast.

Me: Huevos rancheros?

Nell: Bless you. No, Mexican eggs. Poppy got the recipe from one of The Cat’s chihuahuas.

Me: That’s what I said.

Nell: I’m not going to argue with you because today you can do no wrong, but we both know that isn’t true.

Me: I didn’t know The Cat had chihuahuas.

Nell: Everyone knows that. Now, I know you didn’t want any fuss.

Me: Says the Labrador in the huge hat.

Nell: I shall ignore that. So I have written you a short poem.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: ‘Today is your birthday

So let’s shout Olé!’

Me: I’d rather you didn’t.

Nell: Be quiet. May I continue?

Me: Yes.

Nell: ‘Because we all love you

More than words can say.

You are our person

And we are yours too.

You are the sock

And we are the shoe.’

Me: I think I’d rather be the shoe.

Nell: But what do dogs love most?

Me: Oh, I see. Sorry.


Beach Smiles

Me: Look at you two smiling away.

Nell: I must admit I’m particularly enjoying the beach at the moment.

Me: Yes. Not too many people and a wonderfully atmospheric sea mist swirling around us.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I saw you watching the kite surfers.

Nell: David was talking to one of them. He’s keen to have a try.

Me: I’m not sure about that. My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy attached to a kite?

Nell: Yes. It sounds a little risky.

Me: If anyone is kite surfing it’ll be Harriet. She’s such a water rat.

Nell: There is nothing even remotely rat like about Harriet.

Me: It’s just a saying, Nell. Harriet has always loved the water.

Nell: I was watching the waves, not the surfers, by the way. I find them very calming.

Me: I know exactly what you mean.

Nell: In these troubled times it is good to find peace now and again.

Me: It is.

Nell: Now, we need to discuss your birthday tomorrow.

Me: Can’t we just skip it this year?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. We were discussing themes at Morning Thoughts and we decided on Mexican.

Me: Mexican?

Nell: Yes. Kev is helping with the cooking.

Me: Poppy is letting Kev in the kitchen?

Nell: Yes. Manuel will prepare the tortillas and Kev and Malcolm are making the fillings.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Poppy is in charge of the cakes.

Me: Will there be more than one?

Nell: Of course. Alejandro and the larger animals are providing the music and Gladys and the Llamas will be performing a contemporary dance.

Me: Wonderful.

Nell: Hats must be worn at all times.

Me: My all encasing hat might be a bit warm.

Nell: It’s Mexican. We will be wearing sombreros. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Happy Birthday Shannon

Me: That’s Marvin and Shannon in Toronto. Look at that darling pup. Such a sweet happy boy.

Nell: Yes. Marvin sent me over the photos because it’s Shannon’s birthday today.

Me: Yes. Happy Birthday dear Shannon. This is a week of birthdays, isn’t it?

Nell: It certainly is. Tony’s on Tuesday, Shannon’s today and yours on Saturday.

Me: Don’t bother with mine.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I don’t really feel like celebrating.

Nell: Stuff and nonsense. Anyway, today isn’t about you. It’s about Shannon.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: Marvin has written a short poem for her.

Me: He has?

Nell: Well, I think David may have helped. They were zooming away together yesterday.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: David was telling Marvin about the pancake tossing and now Marvin wants Chris to make some.

Me: I’m sure he will.

Nell: Would you like to hear the poem?

Me: I would love to hear it.

Nell: ‘My name is Marvin,

I’m a very lucky boy.

I live with Chris and Shannon

In a world full of joy.

The first weeks of my life

Weren’t like that at all.

I was abandoned and frightened

And ever so small.

But now I am bigger

And happy and strong.

Because my life changed

When Mummy and Daddy came along.

Now it’s kisses and cuddles

And love all the time.

So Happy Birthday Mummy Shannon

I’m so glad you are mine.’

Me: That’s so sweet. Shannon is going to love it.

Nell: Yes.

Me: It warms my heart to see how well and happy he is looking.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Rescuing a dog is a wonderful thing to do.

Nell: It is.

Me: I miss Mutley, Nell.

Nell: We all do. He is watching over us now. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Undivided Attention

Me: You know when I’m telling you something really important and you just look away?

Nell: What is that awful noise?

Me: It sometimes makes me feel that you aren’t really listening to me.

Nell: I hope they’re not making pancakes again.

Me: And that I might not have your undivided attention.

Nell: They made an awful mess last time and Poppy was not pleased.

Me: In fact I don’t think you heard a word I said.

Nell: Did you say something? It’s hard to hear over the noise they’re making.

Me: Who are you talking about?

Nell: Gladys and the llamas. Didn’t you notice them in the kitchen?

Me: It’s too foggy outside for Gladys to Glide so they came inside.

Nell: It doesn’t mean they all have to crowd into the kitchen though, does it? Have you tried stepping over a llama?

Me: I’m not sure I have.

Nell: Babycakes Gillespie is in there too.

Me: Is he?

Nell: Oh yes. Poppy took pity on him out there in the mist and fog with his coffee and a few wet bagels.

Me: Good for her. I think Kev is going to light a fire soon, so they could all come into the living room.

Nell: Why not invite the larger animals while you’re at it?

Me: I think the llamas qualify as larger animals already, and so does Dave.

Nell: David is not a large animal. He is a pedigree Labrador. Oh, now that’s completely unacceptable.

Me: What is?

Nell: Manuel is tossing pancakes again.

Me: He’s awfully good at it, Nell.

Nell: They are supposed to land back in the frying pan, not in David’s mouth.

Me: They’re just having fun.

Nell: Did a llama just walk past with a pancake on its head?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


It’s Tony’s Birthday

Me: I love these photos of Tony with you all. They brighten up a grey and rainy day.

Nell: It’s his birthday today.

Me: Yes, it is. I wish he had better weather.

Nell: Never mind. I’m sure Sue and Ollie are spoiling him.

Me: Yes, and the rest of the family will definitely be in touch even if they can’t get together this year.

Nell: Yes, this is a difficult time for families.

Me: It is.

Nell: Anyway, David has written a poem for him.

Me: Has he? My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Such a talented animal.

Nell: Would you like me to read it to you?

Me: Yes, I would. Very much.

Nell: ‘My name is Dave and I’d like to say

Tony the Postman has a birthday today.

Tony is wise,

Tony is clever,

Tony is smiley,

Whatever the weather.

When Tony got Covid

I worried so much.

I couldn’t eat breakfast,

I couldn’t eat lunch.

I stood by the gate

In the wind and the rain.

Just waiting and waiting

To see Tony again.’

Me: No, he didn’t. Dave never skips breakfast.

Nell: It’s poetic licence. Stop spoiling it. We were all worried about Tony. You know that.

Me: Yes, we really were.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Yes, please do.

Nell: ‘Then one happy day

I heard a shout.

‘Hello, you great lump’

And the sun came out.

Because there at the gate,

And well on the mend,

Was my best buddy Tony,

My wonderful friend.

So, if you see Tony,

Please give him a wave

And shout ‘Happy Birthday

From your best buddy Dave.’

Me: Tony will love it.

Nell: Yes.

Me: We should really have cake. To celebrate.

Nell: Cake? You mean bacon sandwiches. Tony is David’s best friend.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The story continues

Me: So tell me what happened next.

Nell: Where did I leave it?

Me: Manuel was up in the tree. Gladys was organising a trampoline and Malcolm was flying up there to be with him.

Nell: Yes. So, while Malcolm took Manuel under his wing, literally, and we gathered around the trampoline, Knitwear Wolf organised some soft blankets and cushions.

Me: To keep everyone warm?

Nell: No. To make sure Manuel had a soft landing.

Me: Of course.

Nell: The Welsh corgi choir started singing ‘Jump, for your life’.

Me: Isn’t it ‘for your love’?

Nell: That’s not the point. It was a bit too close to reality, so they changed it to ‘Guantanamera’, one of Manuel’s favourites.

Me: Good idea.

Nell: We all sang along, especially David who really put his heart and soul into it.

Me: He has such a lovely singing voice and his Spanish is really improving. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Yes. Fortunately the larger animals arrived and Alejandro was able to explain everything to Manuel in fluent Spanish.

Me: Did he finally jump?

Nell: Yes. There was so much tension in the air you could have heard a bone drop.

Me: Don’t you mean pin?

Nell: Why would anyone drop a pin in a field?

Me: True.

Nell: He landed safely on all the blankets and cushions to tumultuous applause.

Me: Wonderful. I wish I’d seen it.

Nell: You can. Our Penguin filmed it all. It’s trending on YouChewed. Manuel is an internet sensation.

Me: Gosh. Did he say how he got up there?

Nell: Two Beefies grabbed him by the tentacles when he was throwing the vegetable peelings on the compost.

Me: The rascals. Nobody likes to be grabbed by the tentacles.

Nell: This is not a laughing matter.

Me: No. Sorry.


Malcolm steps up

Nell: You are not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Manuel is stuck up a tree.

Me: But he’s an octopus, Nell.

Nell: I am aware of that.

Me: They don’t climb trees.

Nell: Well, this one does. The last time Poppy saw him he was peeling vegetables for Sunday Roast so goodness only knows what happened.

Nell: How did you find him?

Nell: We decided to pop outside to listen to Sunday Songs. If the Welsh corgi choir can make the effort to sing in this cold weather then we should make the effort to support them.

Me: You are right.

Nell: Anyway, I was just thinking I should have worn my hat and scarf when Poppy shouted, ‘There’s something in that tree.’

Me: Gosh.

Nell: I must confess I was expecting some kind of bird, or even a squirrel. Certainly not an octopus.

Me: How did you get him down?

Nell: We didn’t. He’s still up there.

Me: He can’t stay up there, Nell. It’s really cold. Was he wearing a hat?

Nell: Of course he wasn’t wearing a hat. You don’t think he went up a tree of his own accord do you?

Me: I suppose not. Poor little thing. We have to get him down.

Nell: We will. Gladys is organising a trampoline as we speak.

Me: A trampoline? Now isn’t the time for a performance.

Nell: No. To catch him. Jumping seems the wisest decision. Malcolm is flying up there now to be by his side.

Me: Malcolm?

Nell: Yes. Malcolm is a quiet, polite sort of flamingo and Manuel trusts him.

Me: But Malcolm doesn’t like heights.

Nell: I know but Manuel is his friend. It’s amazing what strength we can find when needed. It will be fine.

Me: Yes. Sorry.



Me: So this is where you all are. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.

Nell: Be quiet. Kev is telling us a story.

Me: But Poppy is the only one listening. She seems completely enthralled.

Nell: Poppy loves a Saturday story. She likes to do things with her whole self. She doesn’t do multitasking like the puppies and I.

Me: Multitasking? You aren’t listening. You are looking out of the window.

Nell: You don’t have to stare at someone to be listening, you know.

Me: I suppose not.

Nell: Otherwise where would radio stations, or podcasts, or audio books be?

Me: You might have a point there.

Nell: Or that wretched know-it-all Alexa.

Me: I don’t know why you don’t like her.

Nell: I don’t trust her. Eavesdropper. Joining in conversations.

Me: Only when she’s asked.

Nell: She just loves the sound of her own name, if you ask me.

Me: Anyway, why can’t you show some interest in what Kev is saying? He is doing all the actions and waving his arms.

Nell: Kev always waves his arms. Even when he’s going through the shopping list. That’s just the way he is.

Me: True.

Nell: I’m listening while keeping a close eye on the front window.

Me: But the puppies are looking the other way to you.

Nell: Of course they are. They are monitoring the side windows.

Me: What are you all waiting for?

Nell: Snow.

Me: Snow?

Nell: The VET Office has issued a yellow weather warning.

Me: You mean the MET Office.

Nell: I do not. It’s Emily the Vet, not Met.

Me: It’s only a yellow warning, Nell. Not red, or even amber. It just means ‘Be aware’.

Nell: Which is exactly what we are all doing. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A cold and frosty morning

Me: Why is Dave’s bed on the sofa?

Nell: David is enjoying the view. He can see more from up there.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I just want to cuddle him.

Nell: I know.

Me: It’s such a beautiful frosty morning and so lovely to see the sun. I don’t mind how cold it is if the sun is shining.

Nell: You would if you were out there. Fortunately the llamas have ski suits and boots.

Me: I like their hats. Very colourful.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf made sure they had one each. You need to keep your ears warm in this weather.

Me: I know. I’m very thankful for my all encasing hat.

Nell: We all are.

Me: I’m actually rather surprised that Gladys is still Gliding outside.

Nell: Needs must. We are in lockdown. All the gyms are closed.

Me: Gladys never uses a gym. None of you do.

Nell: I beg your pardon? For all you know I might have been going to Zumba classes for years.

Me: Seriously?

Nell: Of course not. Do I look like a Zumba fanatic?

Me: Not really.

Nell: Pilates is more my thing. I leave Zumba to The Cat.

Me: The Cat does Zumba?

Nell: Oh yes. It loves it. It says it reminds it of the Carnival in Rio.

Me: I’m not even going to go there.

Nell: Probably wise.

Me: Has Dorothy recovered from yesterday’s incident?

Nell: Yes. Pamela explained the misunderstanding and Squawk has been reported to Book a Beefy.

Me: Have they responded yet?

Nell: Yes. They’re looking into it and they offered Pamela a free delivery.

Me: Good.

Nell: I told Pamela to ask for Terry.

Me: Yes. Terry hasn’t put a claw wrong. See what I did there?

Nell: Do stop.

Me: Yes. Sorry.