Sea and Sandwiches

Me: Harriet is such a merdog. She just rushes in and joins the surfers.

Nell: She certainly loves the sea.

Me: You used to.

Nell: Nowadays I prefer the river. One can drink and swim and there are no waves.

Me: True.

Nell: Now, have you seen Dave’s top hat?

Me: I can’t say I have.

Nell: He was wearing it yesterday so it must be somewhere.

Me: I hope the Beefies haven’t stolen it.

Nell: It won’t fit them if they have. Nasty creatures.

Me: Arctic Bob seems to have settled in. I saw him sharing a couple of mackerel with Princess earlier.

Nell: Yes. I’m afraid her head has been turned by that walrus. It’ll all end in tears.

Me: You never know. Maybe Arctic Bob is ready to settle down and put his seafaring days behind him?

Nell: Nonsense. This is real life, you know, not one of your stories.

Me: Is there any news on The Cat’s jewellery box?

Nell: It’s definitely on Lionel King’s ship. Bob tracked it down. We are expecting him to sail into Dartmouth today.

Me: Dartmouth? Why?

Nell: There’s an excellent Barks and Spencer in Dartmouth and we know Lionel can’t resist their sandwiches.

Me: So what’s the plan?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf and Beauregard are going to take over the ship while Lionel is out shopping and sail it back here.

Me: He’s going to be furious.

Nell: By the time he realises the ship has gone it will be too late.

Me: So Strictly will be sparkly again this weekend?

Nell: Yes.

Me: I hope they’ll have enough time to steal the ship. Buying a sandwich doesn’t take very long.

Nell: It’s never just a sandwich at Barks. A basket soon becomes a trolley. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


An uninvited guest

Me: Why are you all looking at me like that?

Nell: Like what?

Me: Like I’m the uninvited guest at a party.

Nell: We’re in the middle of Morning Thoughts.

Me: Well, I just bumped into a walrus upstairs wearing Kev’s dressing gown.

Nell: Good. It’s dreadfully cold in the mornings.

Me: Does Kev even know about this?

Nell: Of course. It isn’t one of his dressing gowns. It’s a guest dressing gown. He found it on the door of the back bedroom.

Me: Hang on a minute. Has a walrus been sleeping in the back bedroom?

Nell: He has to sleep somewhere and he’s not any old walrus. He’s Arctic Bob. Do keep up.

Me: I hope he finds the ship and the box soon. We might need that room.

Nell: He will. Knitwear Wolf is taking Bob and Princess down to the sea after training.

Me: What dance is it this week?

Nell: It’s the Viennese Waltz so there’s been a lot of sickness. Malcolm is in an awful state.

Me: It’s all that spinning around, isn’t it?

Nell: In David’s case it’s an excess of Apple Strudel.

Me: Did you ever get your coffee and doughnuts, by the way?

Nell: What doughnuts?

Me: I thought Dave was sent to get some from Babycakes Gillespie.

Nell: They never arrived.

Me: Never mind. My mistake. Or rather Dave’s.

Nell: What? Anyway, Bob is fairly sure he can track the ship down and once he does he will alert the navy seals and go on board.

Me: How exciting. Have you noticed Princess is rather coquettish when she’s around Bob?

Nell: Well, I hope she doesn’t get her heart broken. Arctic Bob never stays anywhere for long.

Me: Does he have a seal in every port?

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.


Slay the Beast

Me: Harriet and Dave are fighting in the living room.

Nell: Are they?

Me: Harriet seems to have won. She was really fierce. My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy didn’t stand a chance.

Nell: Of course he didn’t. They are playing ‘Slay the Beast’. Harriet has to win because David is the Beast.

Me: Why is Dave the Beast?

Nell: Don’t ask silly questions. If Harriet is going to defend herself in this big wide world she must learn to overcome obstacles large and small.

Me: Dave isn’t an obstacle.

Nell: And if David is going to be a gentle giant he must learn to succumb to those smaller than himself.

Me: He did.

Nell: Good animal. Sometimes winning is losing.

Me: I suppose it is.

Nell: Now, could you tell me if there is a walrus in the kitchen?

Me: I’ll go and look.

Nell: Thank you.

Me: Yes. There is.

Nell: What is it doing?

Me: Eating fish with Oliver and Malcolm.

Nell: Fresh, or tinned?

Me: It looks fresh to me.

Nell: Interesting. Is it talking in Inuktitut?

Me: I don’t know. It’s got its mouth full at the moment and I’ve never heard anyone speak Inuktitut before.

Nell: Never mind.

Me: In fact I don’t even know what Inuktitut is.

Nell: You’ve obviously never been to the Arctic.

Me: Neither have you.

Nell: This isn’t about me.

Me: I give up. Are you going to tell me why there’s a walrus in the kitchen?

Nell: It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Me: Not really.

Nell: It’s Arctic Bob. He’s here to help.

Me: Arctic Bob?

Nell: Stop repeating everything I say.

Me: Help with what? The dancing?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Walruses don’t dance. He’s tracking the ship with The Cat’s jewellery box.

Me: Oh, I see. Sorry.


What a difference a day makes

Me: It’s hard to imagine how lovely it was on the beach yesterday.

Nell: Yes, it’s miserable weather today.

Me: Still no sign of Lionel King’s ship.

Nell: Did you notice the necklace on that large Beefy with the eye patch?

Me: I thought it was a little inappropriate for daywear.

Nell: That’s not the point. It belongs to The Cat. Princess says she is going to call in reinforcements.

Me: Do we know what that means?

Nell: Navy seals I expect.

Me: I bet Poppy was relieved not to be in the dance off.

Nell: Yes, although Manuel was deeply shocked to be in it.

Me: He got his tentacles dreadfully twisted, Nell.

Nell: It was all that tin foil. As soon as he discarded it he was back to his usual self and performed excellently.

Me: Is Susan dreadfully sad to be eliminated?

Nell: No, not at all. Dancing isn’t her thing. Babycakes Gillespie is another matter. He loves dancing and he took the judges’ decision very hard.

Me: I saw him outside with his coffee cart just now. He was wearing a sou’wester and Wellington boots and looking awfully low.

Nell: We can’t have that. Mondays are bad enough anyway. Where are the llamas?

Me: Last seen Gliding with Gladys.

Nell: Well, ask them to come and see me. They need to get Babycakes dancing with them. In the meantime I’ll ask David to get coffee and doughnuts.

Me: Are you sure that’s a good idea?

Nell: Don’t start with the dieting thing again. Rainy weather requires sustenance of the sugary kind.

Me: No, I meant is Dave the right animal for the job?

Nell: David is cheerful and kind with a big heart and large paws. I can’t think of anyone better.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


Happy Birthday Alex

Nell: Is that Hattie Button?

Me: Yes, I saw her yesterday.

Nell: Where were you?

Me: I went out for lunch with my sisters. It’s Alex’s birthday today.

Nell: Happy Birthday Alex. Rumour has it that this was a dogless lunch.

Me: Yes, it was just we three sisters. Kev didn’t go either. You were all busy getting ready for Strictly.

Nell: It would have been nice to be asked.

Me: So, what did you think of yesterday’s performance?

Nell: Considering the challenges faced by the wardrobe department it went really well.

Me: It’s quite amazing what can be done with some tin foil and glitter. The Cat should be proud.

Nell: It’s exhausted.

Me: I thought Malcolm and Alejandro stole the show. The way Malcolm displayed his feathers like a cape and Alejandro bared his teeth.

Nell: Yes, that was impressive but Poppy and Stephen Seagull are going to be hard to beat.

Me: Poppy certainly makes a marvellous matador and Stephen as the flying cape was amazing.

Nell: Yes, the Pasa Doble was bound to favour our feathered contestants.

Me: Lionel King gave them a 10.

Nell: I’m seriously considering taking that lion’s voting paddles away. Beauregard and Harriet were much better than a 3 and a 1 for Rupert and Myfanwy was grossly unfair.

Me: It wasn’t really their dance though. Rita and Manuel struggled too.

Nell: Manuel had a problem with his tentacles. We shall have to hope the public vote will save them. Did you see Princess throwing fish at Count Bingo Flamingo?

Me: He caught them all.

Nell: That’s not the point. It’s unseemly behaviour for a judge.

Me: Well, I loved every minute and Henry and Horst were little stars. See what I did there?

Nell: Just pour the tea.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Tony is back again

Me: It was lovely to see Tony again, wasn’t it?

Nell: I told David not to jump up as Tony has bruised ribs and he still did.

Me: He can’t help himself. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He loves Tony so much.

Nell: Fortunately Tony was prepared and managed to hold his paws.

Me: He didn’t mind at all.

Nell: I wish David would listen. He’s such an impulsive animal.

Me: Has there been any news on The Cat’s jewellery box yet?

Nell: There have been suspicious sightings.

Me: Of the box?

Nell: No. Several Beefies in sparkling hats were seen eating chips on the quay in Kingsbridge.

Me: The cheek of it.

Nell: And my friend Dorothy said a long haired Beefy in a sequinned caftan bought the last scotch egg at the delicatessen.

Me: How does a seagull even wear a caftan?

Nell: With difficulty. But that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: The Cat is completely beside itself about tonight’s performance.

Me: You can’t have Strictly without sparkles.

Nell: I’m afraid it has had to resort to tin foil and glitter.

Me: That sounds a little uncomfortable.

Nell: One must expect to suffer in the pursuit of one’s dream.

Me: I suppose so. Tin foil is a little restrictive for dancing.

Nell: Count Bingo Flamingo says being wrapping in foil is making him feel like an oven ready turkey.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: All I can say is thank goodness for Henry and Horst.

Me: Why?

Nell: They’re going to sit on the contestants’ shoulders in their sequinned jackets to add a little sparkle.

Me: It will be a very little sparkle, Nell. They’re only woodlice.

Nell: Only woodlice? How dare you? Henry and Horst are beacons of hope in a dark world.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Poor Xav

Nell: That’s Xav with your niece Scarlett.

Me: I know. I thought we could all send him our love and the strength to get well.

Nell: What happened?

Me: I’m afraid he was hit by a car.

Nell: That’s dreadful.

Me: He was very badly injured but has pulled through the first major operation and is convalescing at home with Scarlett and Charlotte. Emily the vet thought he would do better in his own surroundings.

Nell: Poor Xav.

Me: He will have to have another operation in a month or so but for now he just needs plenty of rest and love.

Nell: I’ll ask Terry to deliver some fresh fish to him later. Princess is going down to the beach and she always catches plenty.

Me: Is Knitwear Wolf taking her on his motorbike?

Nell: Yes, in the sidecar with Our Penguin. They’re doing some further investigating.

Me: Has there still been no sign of The Cat’s jewellery box?

Nell: Not yet. We are even wondering if tomorrow’s performance might need to be postponed.

Me: Gosh. That’s serious.

Nell: We can’t have contestants dancing in half finished sequinless costumes.

Me: Apart from Stephen Seagull and Poppy who seems awfully attached to her sequinned jacket.

Nell: Quite.

Me: What about tinsel? I have some left over from Christmas. Would that do?

Nell: Certainly not. You can’t have matadors dressed like Christmas trees.

Me: I suppose not.

Nell: Did you see that?

Me: What?

Nell: I’m sure that Beefy was wearing a sequinned hat.

Me: Where?

Nell: Over by the gate. Can you see it sparkling?

Me: Oh yes. It’s rather fetching, isn’t it? Although I would call it a cap.

Nell: I don’t care what it is. That’s not the point. The Beefies must have the box.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Who will shine?

Me: Dave is looking impossibly handsome.

Nell: David is being wilful.

Me: Why?

Nell: He’s refusing to accept that Chris has gone back to Toronto.

Me: Poor darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: You need to talk to him.

Me: I will. He loves Chris very much.

Nell: We all do but I need him to focus. We have a crisis on our paws.

Me: Oh no. What’s happened?

Nell: Someone has taken The Cat’s jewellery box.

Me: You mean the large one with all the sparkly things in it?

Nell: Good grief. Yes, of course I do and to make matters worse the sequins were in there too.

Me: That’s awful. How can we have Strictly Come Prancing without sequins?

Nell: My point exactly. It’s the Pasa Doble this week and the matadors need to shine.

Me: That’s one of my favourite dances. The proud matador and the swirling cape.

Nell: Most of the costumes are only half finished.

Me: The Cat must be in a dreadful state.

Nell: It is. Malcolm is over at the Big House now trying to calm it down with a smoked salmon sandwich.

Me: Poppy might have more luck. The Cat listens to her.

Nell: Everyone listens to Poppy but she’s busy rehearsing with Stephen Seagull.

Me: I see. That’s why she’s wearing her matador outfit. I did wonder. It’s very sparkly.

Nell: Yes, Poppy and Stephen’s costumes are the only ones The Cat has finished.

Me: Wait a minute.

Nell: I don’t have a minute.

Me: It’s obvious who is behind this.

Nell: Who?

Me: The Beefies. They’ve stolen the sequins so only Stephen can shine.

Nell: You’re right. The dastardly hooligans.

Me: I can’t believe you said I’m right.

Nell: Stop gloating. We have a box to find.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


See you again soon

Nell: Are you feeling a little low?

Me: A bit.

Nell: You’re very late posting.

Me: Kev and I were up at 4:30am to take Chris to the station so we had a sleep when we got back.

Nell: Why wasn’t I included? I always go to the station with you.

Me: I know you do but when we looked into the living room you were asleep on your sofa and it didn’t seem right to wake you.

Nell: I would have made an exception for Chris.

Me: I know you would.

Nell: He’ll be back before you know it.

Me: I hope so. It feels like he only just arrived. The time seemed to fly by.

Nell: Time does that when you’re having fun.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Still we’ve made lots of happy memories.

Me: We have.

Nell: Now, did you notice anything suspicious when we were on the beach yesterday?

Me: No.

Nell: Fortunately I had my binoculars with me so I was able to spot it.

Me: Was it a seal?

Nell: No, I have more than enough seals in my life at the moment. I’m thinking of giving Princess a pair of gloves.

Me: That’s kind. From Knitwear Wolf’s Autumn range?

Nell: I don’t care as long as it stops the sound of clapping.

Me: It’s a seal thing

Nell: Anyway, where was I?

Me: A suspicious something was on the beach.

Nell: It wasn’t on the beach it was lurking near the beach.

Me: Was it a Canada Goose? Only Ginger and the gang are back.

Nell: No, it was Lionel King’s ship and what do you mean by gang?

Me: Ginger brought a few friends this time.

Nell: Isn’t incessant clapping enough? Now I’m going to have to deal with constant honking.

Me: Sorry.


For Alice

Nell: Those are lovely photos of Alice. So many happy memories.

Me: Yes, the last time we saw her darling Mutley was still with us.

Nell: He was. Now, I know today is going to be a difficult sort of day for lots of reasons.

Me: Yes.

Nell: Chris flies back to Toronto tomorrow but you will be seeing him again in January if not at Christmas.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So, there is no reason at all to be sad.

Me: Well, maybe a little.

Nell: And it’s Alice’s birthday today.

Me: It is.

Nell: And although you can’t be with her we will be FaceTiming later.

Me: We will.

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

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘37 years ago on this very day

A baby was born

In a land far away.’

Me: It was in Germany, so not that far away.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Of course.

Nell: ‘That baby was Alice

Which I know to be true

Because I asked her mother

Who is Sara.

Yes, you.

Now we haven’t seen Alice

For ages and ages.

And I could write about this sadness

For pages and pages.

But I won’t do that you will be glad to hear

Because this is a day for happiness and cheer.

This is a day when we shout to the world

Happy Birthday Alice

You wonderful girl.

You are loved so much

By all who know you.

Most especially by Sara

Your mother.

Yes, you.

Virtual hugs are coming your way

From us all on this your special day.

And though you are both still far apart

Sara carries you always safe in her heart.’

Me: I do.

Nell: No more tears. You will see her again soon.

Me: Yes. Sorry.