A Worrying Development

Nell: There’s been A Worrying Development.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: We were all in the activity field with Kev enjoying a pleasant walk.

Me: I’m so glad you were able to stretch your legs. Only a few more weeks until we can go to the sea again.

Nell: May I continue?

Me: Of course.

Nell: When Kev stopped and looked up at the sky.

Me: He does that. He used to fly helicopters.

Nell: There weren’t any helicopters.

Me: Well, he and Poppy love discussing flying so I expect he was just monitoring the weather, or whatever pilots do.

Nell: This has nothing to do with the weather. Where was I?

Me: Kev was looking at the sky.

Nell: Yes, and then he sat down on a tree trunk and started singing.

Me: Well, that’s not worrying, Nell. It’s sensible. He knows he has to rest.

Nell; What about the singing?

Me: He must be feeling much better to suddenly do that.

Nell: It wasn’t any old song.

Me: What was it?

Nell: ‘Summer Nights’.

Me: A rather unexpected choice.

Nell: Exactly what I thought.

Me: Because you can’t really sing it on your own.

Nell: That’s not what I meant.

Me: I hope you joined in.

Nell: Of course we did. Harriet sang Sandy’s part. Dave sang the boys’ and Poppy and I sang the girls’.

Me: Good. I’m glad he didn’t sing alone. He has a growly sort of voice which really wouldn’t have worked in the Sandy bits.

Nell: That’s not the point. It’s from ‘Grease’.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: And it happened after he looked at the sky.

Me: What was Lionel King doing in the sky? Does he fly helicopters too?

Nell: This has nothing to do with helicopters, or Lionel King.

Me: Oh. Sorry.


Ducktails and Pink Jackets

Me: Why are you all hiding up here? I thought you’d be outside joining in Sunday Songs.

Nell: We would prefer not to, thank you.

Me: Aren’t you singing?

Nell: No. Not anymore.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes. The singing has changed.

Me: Only a little. You’re bound to get hoarse after a while. Try honey and lemon. It usually helps.

Nell: This has nothing at all to do with tired voices.

Me: What has happened then?

Nell: Have you seen the Welsh Corgi Choir?

Me: Yes. Just now.

Nell: Didn’t you notice what they were wearing?

Me: I did. They’ve all got dear little pink jackets on. They look ever so sweet.

Nell: They’re not sweet. They’re Pink Ladies.

Me: I’m not sure that’s exactly how I would describe them, but fair enough.

Nell: It says it on their jackets. Have a closer look.

Me: I suppose sunglasses aren’t really necessary in February but each to their own.

Nell: What about the smoking?

Me: Well, that is rather worrying and some of them do seem to be a little in your face for the Welsh Corgi Choir.

Nell: Doesn’t any of this ring a bell with you?

Me: No. Should it?

Nell: Do you think ‘Beauty School Dropout’ is a suitable song for a Sunday morning? Might that be a clue?

Me: Hang on a minute. Isn’t it from ‘Grease’.

Nell: Finally, Sherlock Martin solves the case.

Me: We’ve changed musicals.

Nell: We have.

Me: That’s fine with me. I love a bit of ‘Grease’.

Nell: I would suggest you look up in the sky.

Me: The Beefies are wearing leather jackets.

Nell: Yes.

Me: And wigs.

Nell: Ducktails to be exact.

Me: No, their tails are the same.

Nell: It’s a hairstyle from the 1950’s.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.


Embracing a Sunny Morning

Me: Well, Tony really enjoyed Dave’s singing. He even joined in.

Nell: I know. I heard them, thank you.

Me: There’s nothing wrong with embracing the joy of a beautiful morning.

Nell: It isn’t just the morning though, is it? Dave sings that song all day.

Me: Not all day, Nell.

Nell: No. Sometimes he and Babycakes Gillespie sing the Surrey song together.

Me: I thought Babycakes was behaving rather oddly when I saw his checked shirt.

Nell: He has an unusually deep voice for a pug.

Me: Good for him.

Nell: At least we know your theory about Lionel King is wrong.

Me: Why?

Nell: He gets his coffee from Starbarks. He hasn’t been near Babycakes Gillespie, or his cart.

Me: Not even for a doughnut, or a bagel?

Nell: Not as far as I know.

Me: Why are the llamas singing then?

Nell: They’re not, are they?

Me: Yes. Something about ‘Kansas City’.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: They are putting their hearts and souls into it.

Nell: It means nothing. Those llamas are attention seekers. They will use any excuse to put on a performance.

Me: They’ve got excellent American accents.

Nell: Have they? Maybe Lionel was here again.

Me: He must have been with Harriet and Jim the Farm Dog.

Nell: Why?

Me: They’ve been duetting since dawn.

Nell: They often sing that song from West Side Story.

Me: No. This was ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’.

Nell: From ‘Oklahoma’?

Me: Yes. They sing it beautifully. Our Penguin has filmed it if you want to see. Princess clapped and clapped.

Nell: I wish she wouldn’t do that.

Me: It’s a seal thing. What about you? Are you still breaking into song?

Nell: I’m trying hard not to but ‘I Cain’t Say No’.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.


Excuse me?

Me: Excuse me, Nell, were you singing show tunes in an American accent?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: When I came into the living room just now I heard someone singing ‘I Cain’t Say No’.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I be doing that?

Me: There’s only you in here.

Nell: So?

Me: So it must have been you singing songs from Oklahoma.

Nell: What an outrageous idea.

Me: And, more to the point, why are you a girl ‘who cain’t say no’?

Nell: I’m not.

Me: I didn’t think you were but now I’m wondering. Has Lionel King been here?

Nell: He popped in with some daffodils for me earlier.

Me: Was he wearing his cowboy hat?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Do you know if he talked to Robin on his way in?

Nell: I have no idea.

Me: I bet he did. I bet he flashed his cowboy hat at Robin.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: I have a worrying theory.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: This morning Robin sang ‘Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’’ to me.

Nell: He probably learnt it from David. He sings it all the time.

Me: And then I walked into the living room and found you belting out ‘I Cain’t Say No’.

Nell: I wasn’t belting anything out. I was just singing.

Me: In an American accent. And you knew all the words. Admit it.

Nell: I didn’t know I knew them until I started singing.

Me: Did Lionel King go anywhere else?

Nell: I think Manuel made him some pancakes before he left. Why?

Me: Can I hear someone singing?

Nell: It’s ‘The Surrey with the Fringe on Top’. Manuel’s been singing it all morning.

Me: In an American accent?

Nell: Yes.

Me: This is very worrying. Sorry.


Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’

Me: Are you two girls ignoring my darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Harriet and I are simply trying to rest.

Me: You don’t have to turn your backs on him. It’s awfully rude.

Nell: He won’t stop singing.

Me: Dave has a lovely voice. Why shouldn’t he sing if that’s what he feels like doing?

Nell: There are only so many times one can listen to ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’.

Me: Yes. I can imagine that might get on my nerves too. But it is sunny.

Nell: And it’s morning not mornin’. We’re in Devon, not Oklahoma.

Me: Doesn’t he know any others?

Nell: ‘The Surrey with the Fringe on Top’.

Me: I love that one.

Nell: Don’t you dare start singing too.

Me: Do you know why he’s chosen those particular songs?

Nell: He says Lionel King’s cowboy hat inspired him.

Me: Hats can do that. And Lionel King’s was a mighty fine one if I may say so.

Nell: Would you kindly stop the cowboy talk?

Me: Yes siree Bob.

Nell: Who is Bob?

Me: I’ve no idea. I suppose he might be The Surrey if he has a fringe.

Nell: A Surrey is a four wheeled carriage.

Me: Really? I thought it was a long maned horse.

Nell: Good grief. This is worse than David singing.

Me: At least you are back to your normal grumpy self.

Nell: What’s that supposed to mean?

Me: You were strangely nice when Lionel was here.

Nell: I was not.

Me: You were, Nell. We all noticed. Rupert even shook his head at you.

Nell: I was merely giving Lionel the chance to apologise.

Me: If I didn’t know better I would say you were sweet on him.

Nell: Stop talking in an American accent.

Me: Yes ma’am. Sorry.


Hats and Cardigans

Nell: Howdy partner? What on earth made you say that?

Me: He was wearing a cowboy hat.

Nell; You were supposed to be taking notes quietly in the corner.

Me: I know but I just couldn’t help myself. Why did he arrive dressed as a cowboy?

Nell: Lionel likes hats and I expect he wanted to look his best. It suited him.

Me: Knitwear Wolf wasn’t impressed. I heard him mutter ‘Show off’ to himself.

Nell: There’s no love lost between Rupert and Lionel.

Me: I think Knitwear Wolf would look even better in a cowboy hat than Lionel. Did you notice he was wearing his forest green cardigan.?

Nell: I don’t care what either of them were wearing. This isn’t about hats or cardigans.

Me: And I don’t know why you’re cross with me. Poppy served Lionel’s scone on the end of a sword.

Nell: Yes, that was a little theatrical.

Me: You were quite theatrical yourself lounging on a pile of cushions like an Egyptian Queen.

Nell: What’s Egypt got to do with anything? I was merely making myself comfortable.

Me: You know exactly what I mean. If I didn’t know better I would say you rather enjoyed the whole thing.

Nell: Anyway, do you think Lionel is really sorry about all the bad things he has done?

Me: It’s an awfully long list, Nell. Over two pages.

Nell: It was quite harsh of Rupert to insist on listing every single one.

Me: Harsh but fair.

Nell: Lionel certainly seemed sorry to me. Particularly about kidnapping Roary and Tigerlily.

Me: It was a dreadful thing to do. I’m not at all sure Mrs King is going to agree to let him see Roary.

Nell: Well, I think she should. He is Roary’s father.

Me: His bad father. Sorry.


Marvin is not amused

Me: Look at these photos of darling Marvin. Shannon sent them.

Nell: Why is he dressed as an elderly peasant woman?

Me: It’s freezing cold over in Canada and they have to keep him warm.

Nell: He’s not happy about it. Look at his face.

Me: No, but he does look adorable.

Nell: Easy for you to say. I’m going to talk to Knitwear Wolf and The Cat about making him something more suitable to wear.

Me: That’s a good idea.

Nell: He’s a handsome young dog. He doesn’t want to be seen out looking like that.

Me: Was it just me, or is Knitwear Wolf a bit off with you at the moment?

Nell: Off with me? What does that mean?

Me: When you said ‘Good morning’ just now, he simply shrugged and said ‘Whatever’.

Nell: Did he? That doesn’t sound like something Rupert would do.

Me: I agree. So, what have you done?

Nell: Why do you think I’ve done something?

Me: Stop avoiding the question.

Nell: I might have decided to talk to Lionel King.

Me: I don’t believe it, Nell. After all that lion has done you are still giving him a second chance.

Nell: I have merely agreed to listen.

Me: When? Where?

Nell: He is coming here this afternoon. He wanted to meet me at his hotel but Rupert put his paw down and said I wasn’t going anywhere.

Me: Good for him. The sea tractor probably isn’t running in this weather anyway.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No. Will Rupert be at the meeting too?

Nell: I hope not.

Me: I think I should be there, Nell. I’m a good listener and I can write it all down.

Nell: It’s a private meeting.

Me: I’m not letting you do this alone. Sorry.


Second chances

Me: How can that be comfortable?

Nell: Quiet. I’m thinking.

Me: Why hang off the side of the sofa like that?

Nell: Just eat your toast, please.

Me: I’m not really hungry.

Nell: What do you feel about second chances?

Me: I didn’t know I’d used up my first one.

Nell: This is not about you.

Me: Everyone deserves a second chance, Nell. We all make mistakes. Look at Dave.

Nell: What about third, or fourth chances?

Me: I don’t think he meant to eat those scones.

Nell: What scones?

Me: Did I say scones? I probably meant dry biscuits.

Nell: Never mind. This isn’t about David.

Me: Who needs another chance then?

Nell: Lionel King.

Me: I’m not sure he has any chances left.

Nell: He has returned The Cat’s store card.

Me: So it was him who stole it?

Nell: Yes. There was a note with the card.

Me: What did it say?

Nell: ‘Tell Nell, I’m sorry. I do bad things because I’m lonely.’

Me: Is that all?

Nell: Actually, I think it is quite a lot.

Me: Don’t be taken in again by him, Nell. He doesn’t mean it. He just got bored with buying unsuitable presents. He’s such an attention seeker.

Nell: What if he is lonely? What if that is the reason for all of this?

Me: You can’t go around kidnapping cubs and stealing cards.

Nell: No. Still it is rather brave to admit you are lonely.

Me: It’s another one of his games. Appealing to your softer side. Why else did he mention your name? He should have been saying sorry to The Cat.

Nell: You are probably right. He has lost his wife and child though.

Me: Through badness. Don’t forget that.

Nell: People can change.

Me: But can Lionel? Sorry.


Just chilling

Me: Dave has the right attitude to life, doesn’t he? Just chilling and watching the world go by.

Nell: What are you doing out of bed? Go back upstairs right now.

Me: It’s just earache, Nell.

Nell: You’ve been awake most of the night.

Me: I wanted to be with everyone.

Nell: We can join you later after you’ve had a sleep.

Me: But what about Sunday Songs?

Nell: They’re being broadcast from The Barn.

Me: Really?

Nell: You can’t expect the Welsh Corgi Choir to sing in a field in this weather.

Me: Who’s doing the broadcasting?

Nell: ABC.

Me: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation?

Nell: No. The Animals Being Clever network. There aren’t any Australians here as far as I know.

Me: I’ve had a thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Are kangaroos automatically Australian even if they’re born here?

Nell: Certainly not. You don’t think every Bichon Frise speaks French, do you?

Me: Manuel speaks Spanish.

Nell: Manuel is from Barcelona.

Me: I wonder if Marvin still talks like a Texan.

Nell: Chris and Shannon rescued Marvin when he was very young so he sounds Canadian now.

Me: How do you know?

Nell: Marvin and I chat on WoofsApp regularly. He’s part of my young animal mentoring group.

Me: Is Toby?

Nell: Yes. Young Toby is quite a challenge. He’s started changing the tv channels when Tony leaves the room.

Me: How naughty.

Nell: And he keeps stealing Sue’s knitting.

Me: He’s only 7 months.

Nell: His Uncle David still steals socks and he’s 5 in July.

Me: How can my Big Brave Beautiful Boy be nearly 5?

Nell: He has 5 months to change his ways.

Me: I don’t want him to change his ways.

Nell: Don’t complain when he steals your slippers then.

Me: No. Sorry.


The day after the storm

Me: There’s something really comforting about the sight of sleeping dogs.

Nell: You’re supposed to ‘let them lie’ and not engage them in conversation.

Me: I’ll go and talk to Robin then.

Nell: You might as well stay now that you’re here. I’m sure Robin will be happy to chat later.

Me: How was last night? Did you all have enough space?

Nell: It was extremely cramped. Two lions and a tiger take up a lot of room even when one of them is just a cub. And the llamas didn’t stay in the kitchen as requested.

Me: I expect they wanted to hear the story and be near the fire.

Nell: Talking of fires, things got really heated when one of the butterfly sisters mistook Alejandro for a llama.

Me: Oh dear. Was he annoyed?

Nell: Very. Alpacas are extremely proud of their heritage. Fortunately Henry and Horst managed to diffuse the situation and Rupert could carry on reading.

Me: Did everyone enjoy ‘David Copperfield’?

Nell: They did. Tears were shed on the death of Dora, of course, especially by Manuel who hadn’t heard the story before.

Me: Did he understand it? Dickens must be quite a challenge for a Spanish octopus.

Nell: Not all of it. He asked quite a lot of questions. Then he just kept shaking his tentacles and saying ‘Dora dead’ and ‘Poor dear Davey’ in a sad voice.

Me: Bless him. I remember being upset about that too.

Nell: David took it all to heart as usual and hung on every word.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He is our David Copperfield and Sally is his Dora. She even calls him Davey.

Nell: Sally is nothing like Dora who was very silly. She is clearly an Agnes. Sensible and caring.

Me: Yes. Sorry.