Counting Mallards

Me: I think Dave might still be Tony’s Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Look at them both. You’d think it had been months since they saw each other, not days.

Nell: There’s plenty of room in Tony’s heart for both Dave and Ollie.

Me: Yes. I never get tired of seeing those two together.

Nell: They’re best friends.

Me: People say buddies down here in Devon.

Nell: They put the cream on their scones before the jam, but it doesn’t mean I have to do the same thing.

Me: No. I prefer it the Cornish way, too. Jam first, then cream.

Nell: That’s not the point. What are those llamas doing?

Me: Counting mallards.

Nell: I wish they wouldn’t.

Me: It’s important, Nell. PC Panda says mallards are going missing.

Nell: They’re counting the same ones. That mallard has flown over here at least twice.

Me: And that mallard isn’t a mallard at all. It’s a Beefy in a tank top.

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: Look carefully and you’ll see I’m right.

Nell: Well, that takes the biscuit.

Me: Doesn’t it? Who wears tank tops in this weather? It’s far too warm.

Nell: That’s not what I meant.

Me: Oh, you mean they are a bit too retro. The Cat would probably agree.

Nell: No. I mean who disguises themselves as a mallard?

Me: I suppose you would need to be a bird in the first place. Nobody is going to believe Dave is a mallard, even if he is wearing a tank top.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Does Dave actually own a tank top?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: And where would Dave buy one in his size? Does Knitwear Wolf offer them as part of his range?

Nell: I give up. Just count the real mallards.

Me: Sorry.


Dabbling Free

Nell: Why have you posted a photo of Ollie?

Me: I want everyone to see how gorgeous and happy he looks.

Nell: He is a rather cheerful chap.

Me: That’s because he knows he’s loved by Tony and Sue and the rest of the family.

Nell: David isn’t too sure about Ollie.

Me: Dave is just jealous. He wants to be Tony’s Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He wants to be everybody’s Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Me: I know he does. Bless him. He just loves a good cuddle.

Nell: Have you noticed a number of noisy mallards flying over here recently?

Me: Well, that was an interesting change of subject. Actually, Kev and I saw them on our walk. I wondered if they were Canada Geese.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. They’re clearly ducks. I must tell Ginger next time we speak.

Me: I miss Ginger.

Nell: She’ll be back in the autumn.

Me: Why are we talking about mallards?

Nell: I think the Beefies might be leading them astray. They were following them.

Me: I suppose they are a little out of their comfort zone down here by the sea.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: Mallards are dabbling ducks. ‘Heads down, tails up. Dabbling free!’

Nell: Here we go.

Me: They can’t do that in the sea. They would get all salty and mallards don’t do salt.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Do you think we are going to find the beach full of confused mallards when we go down there today?

Nell: I certainly hope not. Although anyone who decides to follow a Beefy has themselves to blame.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: The truth hurts.

Me: Especially when the salt gets in your eyes.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.


A little Achy

Me: Why have you got that sulky, squishy face?

Nell: I beg your pardon? I have not got a squishy face and I am not sulking.

Me: You are. And you’ve tucked your tail under your chin in a determined way.

Nell: It’s a sad state of affairs when a senior animal cannot even rest in the yellow chair without being accused of sulking.

Me: So, what’s put your nose out of joint?

Nell: My nose is fine. It’s the rest of me that’s not.

Me: Are you not feeling well?

Nell: Truth be told, I am feeling a little achy this morning.

Me: My poor darling Nell. Is your arthritis playing up?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Shall I ask Poppy for a pot of Earl Grey? We could share it together.

Nell: That would be most kind. Maybe she has some shortbread biscuits to spare?

Me: I’m sure that can be arranged.

Nell: If you put them on the table next to my chair I can reach them easily.

Me: It isn’t actually your chair, Nell. It’s Kev’s chair. You didn’t even like it at first.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf brought the newspapers. You could read to me if you like.

Me: You’re doing that Selective Hearing thing again and ignoring me.

Nell: Dorothy says there is an interesting article on beavers. Did you know they’re moving in down here?

Me: I didn’t.

Nell: Busy little creatures.

Me: You’ll have to move if Kev needs to sit down, you know.

Nell: Always building things.

Me: Shall I ask Dave to bring in the biscuits?

Nell: Not if you want any left.

Me: You heard me then.

Nell: Would you mind pouring the tea while it’s still hot? As I said before, I’m a little achy today.

Me: Yes. Of course. Sorry.


The clocks go forward

Me: Look at my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy playing Cheeky Animal in the yellow chair. Bless him.

Nell: David isn’t playing anything. He is starving. That is the face of an animal in distress.

Me: He doesn’t look in distress to me.

Nell: Well, he is. Sunday means bacon sandwiches and Poppy has only just started cooking.

Me: She probably forgot to change the clock. They’ve gone forward, you know.

Nell: Gone forward? Yes, of course. Everyone knows that.

Me: You forgot too, didn’t you? You looked at your iBone and you thought it was later than it was.

Nell: I did not. I don’t need a clock to tell me the time. I have an internal clock.

Me: If you did you wouldn’t be moaning about breakfast being late.

Nell: I’m not moaning. I’m simply telling you that David is starving.

Me: It always takes a few days to adjust, so Dave will still be on old time. If you ask me you are just trying to get an early breakfast.

Nell: But it isn’t early. The Welsh corgi choir will be arriving soon for Sunday Songs and then where will we be?

Me: You can always eat your sandwich outside.

Nell: I cannot. You know I like mine on a nice plate with a cup of Earl Grey.

Me: Or in a lovely mug with Conversations with Nell on it.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: We are going to be offering them soon in the shop. It’s very exciting.

Nell: Yes, it is.

Me: Everyone seems happy about it.

Nell: I’ll be happy when I’ve had my breakfast.

Me: What about joining Dave and I in a quick game of Cheeky Animal?

Nell: I’m going to pretend you didn’t just suggest that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Coming soon

Me: I knew it.

Nell: Knew what?

Me: I knew you secretly liked the yellow chair.

Nell: I never said I didn’t.

Me: All that grumbling about the colour and there you are sitting in it.

Nell: Chairs are there to be sat on. Yellow, or not.

Me: It suits you, by the way.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf said the same thing when he brought the papers.

Me: Did he now?

Nell: Rupert always has a kind word for everyone.

Me: He does.

Nell: Now, why are you in such a good mood?

Me: Because I can finally tell everyone what’s coming soon.

Nell: Don’t tell me you’ve invited the Easter Terrier to lunch?

Me: No. It isn’t Easter until next weekend.

Nell: It won’t have time next weekend. It will be too busy boxing the Easter Bunny’s ears.

Me: This isn’t about the Easter Terrier.

Nell: Poppy might have invited it to lunch, I suppose. I know they trained together.

Me: Is the Easter Terrier a chef then?

Nell: No. They trained in martial arts. They’re both black belts.

Me: Never mind that. I want to let people know about our shop.

Nell: The World of Nell?

Me: Yes. If people click on the link they can be the first to know when the shop opens.

Nell: Where is it then?

Me: It’s online, Nell. It’s not a physical shop.

Nell: I meant the link.

Me: Oh yes. https://world-of-nell.myshopify.com/password

Nell: Good.

Me: I’m hoping people will give us feedback and then we can keep adding things they want.

Nell: We aren’t going to add things they don’t want.

Me: You know what I mean. We are open to suggestions.

Nell: Within reason. Don’t start offering cuddles with David. I know what you’re like.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Ibble Dibble

Me: Gosh, it’s stormy out there today.

Nell: Would you mind whispering, please? Harriet is still sleeping.

Me: Did the storm keep her awake?

Nell: No. It was Roley Moley.

Me: Roley Moley?

Nell: Yes. And The Cat.

Me: Roley Moley and The Cat?

Nell: You are repeating everything again.

Me: What were they doing?

Nell: Playing Ibble Dibble, if you must know.

Me: Ibble Dibble?

Nell: Are you doing this to annoy me?

Me: That’s a Christmas game.

Nell: No, it isn’t. Ibble Dibble can be played at any time of the year.

Me: But they’ve got fur. You can’t play Ibble Dibble with fur. The mark from the cork won’t work.

Nell: They were playing with sequins.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: Roley Moley is an excellent player.

Me: He would be.

Nell: David is not. He ended up with 14 Ibble Dibbles or Dibble Ibbles. I need to look up the rules again on Poodle.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Poppy refused to play. If anyone came near her with a sequin she took out her sword.

Me: She’s not a sequinny kind of animal. I thought Roley Moley was going back to London with Sally.

Nell: The Cat has persuaded him to stay. It’s making him a new suit with a waistcoat and needs him around for fittings.

Me: I’m surprised Roley agreed to that.

Nell: He finds The Cat amusing. They bonded over smoked salmon sandwiches.

Me: I would love one of those. I wonder if Poppy would make some for tea.

Nell: No chance. Poppy is busy dealing with the Cross Hot Buns for Easter.

Me: You mean Hot Cross Buns.

Nell: I do not. The buns are cross because they are hot. Everyone knows that.

Me: Yes. Of course. Sorry.


The Yellow Chair

Me: Nell, could I have a word?

Nell: Can’t it wait? Poppy and I are in the middle of an important discussion.

Me: What about?

Nell: The yellow chair.

Me: The yellow chair?

Nell: Yes. It’s startling. Look at Poppy’s face.

Me: I wouldn’t call it startling, but it does have a strong colour.

Nell: Where has it come from and why is it here?

Me: My sister Charlotte gave it to us. Kev’s been struggling with his back on the old chair.

Nell: That’s all well and good but you can’t just plonk a yellow chair in the middle of the living room.

Me: Nobody plonked anything. Kev carried it in.

Nell: No wonder he has a bad back. Carrying yellow chairs all over the place.

Me: It’s a statement chair. You’ll get used to it.

Nell: I very much doubt it. I’m going to have to ask Knitwear Wolf for a throw to cover it.

Me: I think you are being very unfair.

Nell: It doesn’t go with anything.

Me: If Kev is comfortable in it then that’s fine with me.

Nell: I’m living in the midst of chaos.

Me: Welcome to my world. Anyway, have you got time now?

Nell: I might have.

Me: I’ve been talking to my editor.

Nell: I know you have. I barely saw you yesterday.

Me: I had my Wednesday Writers in the morning and meetings all afternoon.

Nell: So, what is this about?

Me: You know the next book?

Nell: I do.

Me: Do you think people will be happy if it’s a bit longer than the last one?

Nell: Of course. How many of them told you it was over too soon?

Me: Lots.

Nell: Well then. Can I get back to discussing the yellow chair now?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The missing towel

Me: It was glorious down on the beach, wasn’t it?

Nell: Yes. It’s always good to feel the sand under your paws.

Me: I love watching Dave run and run when he’s off the lead.

Nell: Yes, he and Harriet certainly enjoyed themselves.

Me: Harriet didn’t have to scare me, though.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: Running towards me when I was filming and only stopping at the last second.

Nell: Your squeal was hilarious.

Me: No, it wasn’t. I don’t need to be knocked over again.

Nell: She knew what she was doing.

Me: Talking of knowing what you’re doing, someone stole a towel from the clothes line.

Nell: Did they?

Me: It was up really high so I’m afraid the culprit is fairly obvious.

Nell: One of those pesky Beefies, I expect.

Me: The towel was too heavy for a Beefy.

Nell: One of the llamas then. Cartwheeling into the washing line by mistake. You know what they’re like.

Me: It wasn’t a llama.

Nell: Well, it’s a mystery.

Me: No, it isn’t. Dave was seen jumping several times near the washing line.

Nell: Don’t go jumping to conclusions. David is in training.

Me: In training for what?

Nell: It doesn’t matter.

Me: Yes, it does.

Nell: Irondog, I expect, or Ruff Mudder.

Me: It’s Tough Mudder.

Nell: There you are then.

Me: Anyway, Dave was seen running away from the scene of the crime with the towel in his mouth.

Nell: But do you know why?

Me: What difference does that make?

Nell: Maybe the towel wasn’t dry.

Me: What?

Nell: And David was saving you from the horror of trying to dry yourself on a cold, wet towel.

Me: That’s why it was on the line.

Nell: But David didn’t know that.

Me: No. Sorry.


Happy Birthday dear Chris

Me: What lovely photos. It’s Chris’s birthday today.

Nell: It is.

Me: Look at little Dave. And darling Mutley.

Nell: Yes.

Me: The one where he’s cuddling you both is just before he left to fly back to Toronto last year.

Nell: I know.

Me: We didn’t realise what was to come.

Nell: No, but, as I’ve told you before, there is light at the end of the kennel and better times are ahead.

Me: Yes, and he has Shannon and Marvin to celebrate with him today.

Nell: I wrote a poem for Chris. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Very much.

Nell: ‘Marvin the pup has asked me to say

That today is an awfully big sort of day.

It’s a day for celebrations and candles and cake

And a big bowl of fries

And a huge juicy steak.’

Me: You never say fries.

Nell: Marvin is from Texas and lives in Toronto. I am in character.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Of course.

Nell: ‘I said, ‘Whose birthday is it?

May I hazard a guess?

Could it be Chris’s?’

And Marvin said ‘Yes.

Sometimes life isn’t fair

And I know that you miss him

And just wish you were there

To hug and to kiss him.

But please do not worry

About that at all

Because I have enough kisses

To give him from us all.’

So Happy Birthday dear Chris.

Please know you are loved

By all of us here

And by those from above.’

Me: That was beautiful, Nell.

Nell: My pleasure.

Me: Chris lost his father last June and their birthdays were on the same day. So this is the first year he will celebrate without him.

Nell: Yes. I know.

Me: Sorry.

Nell: No need for sorry. Not today.


Following in your footsteps

Me: It’s lovely to be outside in the sunshine again, isn’t it?

Nell: It certainly is. Sunshine always lifts one’s mood.

Me: Especially on a Monday.

Nell: If you say so.

Me: Because Mondays are difficult days.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: After the tranquility of a Sunday, a Monday can be a little daunting with a busy working week ahead and the weekend still days away.

Nell: I can’t say I’ve noticed our Sundays being particularly tranquil recently.

Me: No.

Nell: That Welsh corgi choir picnic turned into complete chaos. What were the llamas doing?

Me: Cartwheels. Everyone clapped.

Nell: I blame Gladys. Too much gliding isn’t good for anyone.

Me: Poor old Sunday. Trying to be tranquil and live up to everyone’s expectations but then having to deal with wild llamas and over excited corgis. It meant so well.

Nell: What are you talking about? How can a day mean well? Meaning Well sounds more like a description of David.

Me: Sundays have a lot to live up to, you know. It’s not easy being a Sunday. All that responsibility.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Each day has its own challenge. Friday and Saturday are party days, for instance. And Wednesday are always a bit middling.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. I really do.

Me: Just saying.

Nell: Well don’t. Just follow me and stop talking. The others are way ahead of us now.

Me: I hope you know I am happy to walk behind you, Nell.

Nell: Only because you’re even slower than me.

Me: Yours are footsteps I am proud to walk in.

Nell: Actually, if you look properly we are walking in the cows’ and sheep’s footsteps.

Me: That’s not what I meant.

Nell: I know. Let’s join the others now. They’re waiting.

Me: Sorry.