The Chosen One

Me: It was wonderful that Elliot had time to help us with the garden again. We want it all looking good before Chris arrives.

Nell: I’m afraid his visit has caused a little friction between Poppy and Harriet.

Me: Has it? Oh dear. Why?

Nell: Didn’t you notice Poppy showing off and calling herself The Chosen One?

Me: I noticed Harriet watching them from the lounger.

Nell: Yes. She wasn’t happy.

Me: But Elliot loves Harriet. He told me he thought she was the prettiest of you all.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Oh, don’t start, Nell. You’re a classic beauty, Dave is magnificent, Poppy is cute but Harriet is undeniably pretty.

Nell: Maybe you need to tell her that.

Me: I will.

Nell: She’s outside. She said she didn’t want any breakfast and Poppy said, ‘Good, because you aren’t getting any.’

Me: That was a bit harsh.

Nell: Poppy says you shouldn’t feed a sulker.

Me: I know what she means but she shouldn’t show off either.

Nell: You can tell her that if you are brave enough. Have you seen Knitwear Wolf with the papers?

Me: No. Are you waiting for anything in particular?

Nell: The Daily Growl is publishing the dance pairings all this week.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: There’s Rupert now. Why is he looking so shifty?

Me: Don’t be silly. Although, he does look a little troubled. Shall I ask him what’s wrong?

Nell: Yes. What did he say?

Me: I’m not sure you are going to like this, Nell.

Nell: Tell me.

Me: The Daily Growl published Rupert’s dancing partner.

Nell: And?

Me: It’s Myfanwy.

Nell: The singing corgi who turned bad and was sent to her Auntie Gwen in Wales?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Rupert’s old love?

Me: Yes. The very one. Sorry.


Jonathan Sky is 5 today

Me: I can’t believe Jonathan is 5 today. Look at the children now and the last time they were here.

Nell: I’ve written a poem for Jonathan. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes. Very much.

Nell: ‘Put on your party hats

Fetch Jonathan’s crown.

Stand up, if you’re sitting,

If you’re standing, sit down.

Does he like jam?

Or would he prefer honey?

No, I didn’t say ham,

Stop trying to be funny.

We need lots of pasta,

And pizza. And steak.

There has to be chocolate,

There must be a cake.

Who’s been eating the chips?

Show me your paws.

They are covered in ketchup.

Are those dinosaurs?

What are they doing here?

Who invited them, please?

They’re awfully big.

They’re taller than trees.

How did they get here?

Yes, I’m talking to you.

Don’t make something up,

This has to be true.

They came in a rocket?

Because dinosaurs like flying?

Especially through space?

Now I know you are lying.

Oh, Jonathan told you?

Why didn’t you say?

If Jonathan invited them

Then it must be okay.

I hope dinosaurs like singing

It’s high time for a song,

Because Jonathan is five

And he can do no wrong.

No, only for today,

It can’t be for ever.

Even owls can do wrong

And they’re dreadfully clever.

Granny and Grandpa

And Harriet and Dave

And Nell and Poppy

Are all giving a wave.

Although they are ever so far away

They think of Jonathan every day.

And his little sister Faye

And Papa and Mummy.

Although Dave thinks of bacon

And filling his tummy.

So Happy Birthday to you

Darling Jonathan Sky.

Now we all know it is true

That dinosaurs can fly.’

Me: I love it.

Nell: No tears. You will see them soon.

Me: Sorry.


The Photo Shoot

Nell: Have you seen the Strictly photos?

Me: I have.

Nell: Unbelievable. The arrogance of that lion.

Me: He does look awfully impressive.

Nell: If anyone is wearing a crown, it should be me, not Lionel King.

Me: Although his name does suggest otherwise.

Nell: Never mind his name. Mine is Eleanor Martin and he’d better remember it.

Me: Anton Du Bark looks awfully worried, but then again anyone would feel intimidated being photographed next to a large lion in a crown. Even a lithe whippet.

Nell: I’m not intimidated at all.

Me: Neither is Princess. She clapped when Lionel arrived.

Nell: She clapped when the photographer arrived.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: Anyway, I’m going to put Lionel King in his place. I am not being upstaged by a lion.

Me: He’s awfully handsome though, isn’t he? And the fact he’s a rogue sort of adds to it.

Nell: Rupert would not agree.

Me: Yes. Knitwear Wolf is not happy. Did you see his face?

Nell: I’m afraid Rupert is going to struggle with Lionel as a judge.

Me: Oh yes. Rupert is one of the professional dancers.

Nell: I’m expecting fireworks.

Me: I hope not. Oliver is easily startled. He won’t deal well with them at all.

Nell: Not literally. Figuratively. Rupert and Lionel are bound to clash.

Me: Beauregard and Lionel aren’t exactly best buddies either.

Nell: I’m going to have my paws full trying to keep this judging panel in order.

Me: If anyone can do it then it’s you.

Nell: You are too kind.

Me: You haven’t forgotten that it’s Jonathan’s birthday tomorrow, have you?

Nell: Of course not. I’ve been working on my poem.

Me: And it’s also Talk Like A Pirate Day apparently. Lionel should love that.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.


Friday Excitement

Nell: Are you quite well?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Why are you dancing around the bedroom in tears?

Me: I’ve had some wonderful news.

Nell: Care to share?

Me: Chris has booked his flight from Toronto. I’m going to see my son again after 18 months.

Nell: So when is he arriving?

Me: Two weeks today. He will be with us from 1st to 7th October.

Nell: This is excellent news but there’s a lot to be done before then.

Me: I know.

Nell: We need to have a family meeting. Menus must be planned, beds must be made and hair will need to be cut.

Me: Not everyone’s hair, Nell.

Nell: No. Most of the wilder haired animals are having their hair done before Strictly anyway.

Me: Talking of Strictly. Kev is taking these dance classes awfully seriously.

Nell: Is he now?

Me: Yes. I saw him chatting to the Portuguese Podenco about the tango.

Nell: I didn’t know Kev spoke Portuguese.

Me: Neither did I.

Nell: You know the photo shoot is tomorrow so we can expect that lion to appear. He can’t stay on his ship for ever.

Me: It’s been spotted all along the coast. People were telling me. Usually surrounded by screaming Beefies.

Nell: He’s just showing off. Rupert says it’s best not to take any notice of him.

Me: I’m surprised the Beefies are still with him. Didn’t he get immunity by cooperating with the police?

Nell: Beefies are birds of very little brain. How else do you explain them choosing Stephen Seagull as their leader.

Me: Maybe you shouldn’t wear the tiara, Nell. What if Lionel King steals it?

Nell: I shall wear what I like. I’m not letting an international jewel thief influence my choice of crown.

Me: No, of course not. Sorry.


Did you notice the ship?

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

Nell: Did you notice the ship?

Me: The water was crystal clear and an almost tropical turquoise.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: We could have been stranded on some desert island.

Nell: No, we couldn’t. We drove there from home.

Me: You know what I mean.

Nell: I do not.

Me: And the darling puppies just swam and swam for the sheer joy of it. They looked like a pair of seals, or otters.

Nell: They certainly enjoyed themselves.

Me: If I had remembered to bring my bathing costume with me I would have joined them.

Nell: Good grief. It always takes you half an hour to put the thing on and even longer to take it off again.

Me: It’s ever so difficult getting changed on a beach, Nell.

Nell: Other people manage.

Me: I do love the water, though. And it looked so inviting. I think I might bring my swimming things next time.

Nell: Anyway, this is all well and good but did you notice the ship?

Me: You mean the tall one?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Of course I did. I even took some photos.

Nell: Do you realise whose ship it was?

Me: No.

Nell; Didn’t you notice the Beefies circling it?

Me: They always do that, in case they can steal some fish.

Nell: Did it look like a fishing vessel to you?

Me: No. It was far more romantic and piratey.

Nell: Exactly. Piratey is the word. If it actually exists.

Me: Oh, I see what you mean.

Nell: Yes. It belongs to Lionel King. He’s back.

Me: We knew he was around, unless you were expecting him to judge remotely.

Nell: But we didn’t know he was this close.

Me: No. Sorry.


Nell is Grumpy

Me: Why are you being so grumpy?

Nell: I’m not talking to you.

Me: What have I done now?

Nell: You know perfectly well what you’ve done.

Me: Is it about Toby the Puppy? He’s such a sparkling little chap. So happy and friendly.

Nell: How could you drive over to Tony and Sue’s house without taking me? My sister Maisie is his grandmother, you know.

Me: We thought it might be too much for him.

Nell: Too much? David and Harriet are heartbroken not to see him.

Me: No, they aren’t. They’re absolutely fine. They know they’ll meet him soon.

Nell: They are his uncle and aunt. Their sister Mist is his mother. Toby is family.

Me: You’re making far too big a deal out of this, Nell. You’re just out of sorts because of Lionel King.

Nell: Don’t mention that lion to me.

Me: How on earth did he manage to be chosen as the fourth judge?

Nell: That’s what I said to Anton Du Bark. I mean who has a lion as a judge?

Me: To be fair the other judges are a seal, a Labrador and a whippet.

Nell: A lithe whippet.

Me: True.

Nell: An extremely experienced Labrador.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And an over enthusiastic but optimistic seal.

Me: That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about Princess.

Nell: Anton says there has to be a nasty judge and Lionel fits the bill. He’s also an excellent dancer, which I can vouch for, and has a certain je ne sais quoi.

Me: He’s definitely got charisma.

Nell: Show me those photos of Toby again.

Me: Isn’t he gorgeous?

Nell: Yes, and it’s lovely to see Tony and Sue looking so happy.

Me: Am I forgiven?

Nell: I’m going with you next time.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The Right Hat

Me: I’m not sure about either of those hats but if I had to choose I would go for the red one.

Nell: One of them is not a hat, it’s a modest tiara.

Me: I’m not sure you can have a modest tiara. It’s a bit over the top.

Nell: Have you seen what Princess is wearing?

Me: Hers will only be for the publicity photos. The red hat suits you, although the animal print makes me wonder if you’re supporting a certain tiger.

Nell: Beauregard has nothing to do with my choice of hat.

Me: Was it The Cat?

Nell: No. The Cat would never choose anything that discreet. It was Terry.

Me: Terry from Book a Beefy? Terry the seagull?

Nell: Yes, he has a catalogue and he delivers.

Me: Fair enough. Any news on the fourth judge yet?

Nell: Anton is supposed to be ringing me.

Me: You’ve got a missed call on your iBone.

Nell: Have I? It must have been when I popped over to the tree house.

Me: To see Beauregard?

Nell: No, to comfort Oliver. Manuel startled him with a flambéd pancake.

Me: Oh, I see.

Nell: I’ll check the WoofsApp group. There might be a message from Anton.

Me: Is he part of your Book Club?

Nell: Not that group. The Strictly Judges WoofsApp group.

Me: Of course.

Nell: I don’t believe it.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell; We’ve got a new group member.

Me: Well, that’s ok, isn’t it? Your Book Club is open to new members.

Nell: Not the Book Club group, the Strictly Judges one.

Me: Oh, how exciting. It must be the fourth judge. Who is it?

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: It’s Lionel King.

Me: Now that is unbelievable. Sorry.


Harriet is Awfully Pleased

Me: Harriet was awfully pleased to see Elliot.

Nell: She flung herself at him. Her behaviour was wild and inappropriate.

Me: She’s very affectionate, Nell. Both puppies are.

Nell: And David overreacted as usual.

Me: He probably shouldn’t have dropped the heavy ball on her.

Nell: Especially as he throws himself at Tony every time he visits.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He wanted a cuddle too. It’s lucky Elliot loves dogs.

Nell: And seals. Princess was very pushy when he went to see her in her pool.

Me: She was just excited.

Nell: Standing on your head with your fins in the air is too much. I hope she doesn’t do that on Strictly.

Me: She wasn’t standing on her head. She just lifted her body into the air. It was very clever.

Nell: And who claps themselves?

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: I hope Elliot didn’t find it all too much. Kev needs his help with the garden and we all enjoy his visits.

Me: Don’t worry. He said he’d be back next week.

Nell: Don’t tell Harriet, or she won’t sleep for excitement. Elliot is all she can talk about.

Me: I wonder what Jim the Farm Dog thinks about that.

Nell: He’s feigning nonchalance.

Me: How do you know?

Nell: He drove past us on the tractor this morning without even a raise of the paw.

Me: I expect he was busy.

Nell: I saw him watching Harriet in his mirror.

Me: It won’t do him any harm to be a little jealous. He danced with Juanita.

Nell: Talking of Juanita. Have you heard the latest?

Me: What?

Nell: That Portuguese Podenco is joining the professional dancers now, too.

Me: I knew he was from Portugal.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.


Hide and Seek

Me: Poppy won again at Hide and Seek.

Nell: Yes, David and Harriet simply couldn’t find her anywhere.

Me: But she always hides behind the tree stumps.

Nell: Not always.

Me: Almost always.

Nell: Sometimes she’s in the big tyre.

Me: True.

Nell: And she walks around the tree stumps.

Me: She finds them immediately.

Nell: Of course she does. How on earth can you hide anything as big as David?

Me: Did you see the tennis? Wasn’t Emma amazing?

Nell: Yes. It is always a joy when a youngster shines.

Me: Shine is exactly what she did. We have a new star.

Nell: Talking of stars, the photo shoot has been delayed so I have a little more time to decide on my hat.

Me: Why?

Nell: Problems with the fourth judge.

Me: Who is the fourth judge?

Nell: I have no idea. They are keeping it very hush hush.

Me: I’m ever so pleased Babycakes Gillespie is entering Strictly. Although I’ll miss the coffee and bagels when he’s training.

Nell: Life can still go on without a morning bagel, you know.

Me: I’d like to see you give up your toast and marmalade.

Nell: Don’t be silly. As if that would ever happen.

Me: Did I hear the Welsh corgi choir belting out show tunes this morning?

Nell: Belting out? They were just singing enthusiastically. You know Sundays are for singing. And roasts.

Me: It seemed a bit louder this morning.

Nell: Were the llamas wearing jumpsuits?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Interesting.

Me: There was an awful lot of cartwheeling.

Nell: I’ve told them not to do that. Were the llamas cartwheeling too?

Me: What do you mean ‘too’? The Welsh corgi choir don’t do cartwheels, Nell? They’ve only got little legs.

Nell: Gotcha.

Me: Yes, you did. Sorry.


Saturday Pondering

Me: Have you got a furrowed brow?

Nell: Not particularly.

Me: You look like you have.

Nell: I’m Pondering on something very important. Can’t an animal Ponder in peace around here?

Me: It depends what you’re Pondering on.

Nell: No, it doesn’t.

Me: If you are Pondering on the meaning of life I would love to join you. I have lots of thoughts about that, especially at this time of year.

Nell: I’m not.

Me: Are you Pondering on whether to have a second breakfast? Dave is always available to discuss options.

Nell: How do you know I’ve had a first breakfast?

Me: It’s Saturday. I smelt the bacon.

Nell: I may have a piece of shortbread with my tea later, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.

Me: Is it a matter of the heart? Only I saw Knitwear Wolf talking to you earlier.

Nell: It has nothing to do with the heart. Rupert and I were discussing outfits, if you must know.

Me: Are you Pondering the advantages of Knitwear over Animal Print then?

Nell: Animal Print?

Me: Tiger stripes can be very attractive.

Nell: Why are you winking? Rupert and I were discussing hats.

Me: Hats?

Nell: Yes. The Daily Growl want to take some publicity shots before the start of Strictly.

Me: Why don’t you ask The Cat?

Nell: Because I’m not sure an ostrich feather, or tiara, is the way I want to go.

Me: They are better than a bobble hat.

Nell: Rupert will be wearing a top hat.

Me: Is he going to be in the photos too?

Nell: Of course. Rupert is one of the professional dancers.

Me: Is he? I didn’t know.

Nell: Rupert’s dancing is renowned. You must have heard of The Wolf of Waltz Street.

Me: I hadn’t. Sorry.