Hats, Dogmanay and The Blubbery Wedding

Me: It’s finally Dogmanay. The last day of the year and the day of the Blubbery Wedding.

Nell: Thank goodness. I’ve had quite enough of this year, thank you.

Me: Would you mind if I mentioned the hats?

Nell: I’d rather you didn’t.

Me: They’re a bit eclectic.

Nell: You mean odd.

Me: I didn’t want to say that but they don’t seem to go together. Princess is in a tiara which is fair enough.

Nell: She borrowed it from Gladys.

Me: Dave and Kev are wearing top hats which is also standard for a wedding.

Nell: Not on the beach in the rain.

Me: Possibly not. You and Harriet seem a little unhappy with your hats, if I may say so.

Nell: They’re ghastly.

Me: I wouldn’t go that far.

Nell: Of course you wouldn’t. You’re wearing a beautiful fluffy all encasing hat.

Me: Yes, I’m rather relieved to be honest. And then there’s Poppy.

Nell: What about her?

Me: She’s wearing a pirate hat, Nell.

Nell: She refuses to wear anything else.

Me: It’s not very weddingy.

Nell: It goes with her sword.

Me: Does she really need a sword?

Nell: Someone has to cut the cake.

Me: Surely the bride and groom will do that.

Nell: They’ll be in the sea. They want the cake cut and thrown to the guests.

Me: Now that is unusual.

Nell: Not when it’s a fish cake made with whole mackerel.

Me: I might skip the cake. Who’s going on Lionel’s ship?

Nell: The Whippets Institute Big Band.

Me: What about the Welsh Corgi Choir?

Nell: They’ll be singing from a dinghy.

Me: I hope it can hold them all. They’re looking a little portlier than usual.

Nell: They’ve got life vests sewn into their dresses. Remember?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.


Sunsets, Ships and Pelé

Me: It was truly magical down on the beach. The sky was amazing.

Nell: Yes.

Me: It’s a shame the Blubbery Wedding isn’t at sunset tomorrow.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir are going to be cold enough by lunchtime.

Me: The sky looks warmer at sunset.

Nell: Looks can deceive.

Me: Just look at Lionel King.

Nell: Why?

Me: Handsome on the outside. Dangerous within.

Nell: Lionel’s working hard on being a better lion. He’s even offered his ship for any wedding guests who can’t swim.

Me: That’s a terrible idea.

Nell: No, it isn’t. There’s only so much of the wedding we’ll be able to see from the beach.

Me: I thought Lionel was destitute. How does he still have a ship?

Nell: It’s the only thing he has left.

Me: Why isn’t he living on it?

Nell: It’s extremely vulnerable to Beefy attacks.

Me: Fair enough. I shan’t be sorry to say goodbye to this year.

Nell: Most people would agree.

Me: Talking of goodbyes I was sad to hear that Pelé had died.

Nell: He was a legend.

Me: I met him you know.

Nell: Really?

Me: Yes, I was at a big television market in Cannes when I heard Pelé was meeting the press outside The Grand Hotel. So my friend Walt and I went straight there.

Nell: Typical.

Me: There were hundreds of photographers and journalists but he noticed me and called out ‘Let her through.’

Nell: What happened then?

Me: We talked. I told him Chris played football and I was in the mothers’ team. He loved that.

Nell: How wonderful.

Me: Yes. For a brief moment in time it was just little old me chatting to Pelé.

Nell: Less of the little. He chose to talk to you. Remember that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Trojan Tiger

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: There’s a large tiger on the sofa downstairs next to Poppy.

Me: I know Beauregard is a large tiger, Nell. He doesn’t visit us often but he’s always welcome.

Nell: It’s not Beauregard.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Quite.

Me: I’m not sure we have room for another tiger. We’re already hosting a lion.

Nell: It’s taking up the whole of David’s sofa, apart from Poppy’s cushion.

Me: Is Poppy bothered by it?

Nell: No. She’s decided to ignore it completely. It stretched out its paw to try and knock her off but she’s not moving.

Me: Good for her.

Nell: It’s not moving either, however.

Me: A stubborn tiger then.

Nell: David has tried reasoning with it.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He’s explained that sofas are for sharing in this house.

Me: Exactly.

Nell: But the tiger is still refusing to move.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Or do anything at all to be honest.

Me: Do we know where it’s come from?

Nell: No. It arrived this morning while we were eating breakfast.

Me: I’ve just had an awful thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: Do you think it might be a Trojan Tiger?

Nell: I don’t know its nationality.

Me: Is it actually real?

Nell: Of course it’s real. It’s sitting in the sofa.

Me: I mean living and breathing real.

Nell: I see. Well, it hasn’t actually said or done anything.

Me: Could it be stuffed?

Nell: It might have overindulged I suppose. It is Christmas.

Me: No, like a soft toy.

Nell: You mean someone has sent us a toy tiger?

Me: Yes, but who and why and what’s inside?

Nell: I need a cup of Earl Grey now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Naughty Nigel feels Insecure and Sara Gets a New Hat

Me: What do you think of my new all concealing hat? Isn’t it gorgeous?

Nell: It’s extremely fluffy.

Me: It was so kind of Scarlett to give it to me. Unexpected visits can be delightful, can’t they?

Nell: It depends on the visitors.

Me: And you were able to see Naughty Nigel and Boo again.

Nell: That was less nice.

Me: Why?

Nell: Nigel became rather jealous of Harriet.

Me: He was just feeling a bit insecure.

Nell: Harriet was only having a brief cuddle with Scarlett.

Me: Nigel didn’t like them being so close.

Nell: He did not. He wasn’t happy until he had driven her away.

Me: That isn’t entirely true now, is it? Harriet decided to leave after she realised he was feeling left out.

Nell: How do you know?

Me: I was there.

Nell: Why ask me then?

Me: I wanted to hear your version.

Nell: Did you see Boo kiss Harriet?

Me: I did.

Nell: David was extremely angry about it.

Me: Yes, he wasn’t best pleased. He even did his Big Boy’s growl. Bless him.

Nell: You’re not actually going to wear that hat outside are you?

Me: Of course I am. In fact I thought it might be perfect for the Blubbery Wedding on Saturday.

Nell: Don’t get me started on that wedding. You do realise Princess has chosen the Welsh Corgi Choir as her bridesmaids, don’t you?

Me: Gosh.

Nell: And some of them can’t even swim.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The Cat is trying to incorporate life vests into their dresses which is not easy believe me.

Me: I can imagine. Who is the Best Man?

Nell: Your writer friend Harry.

Me: Does he know?

Nell: I hope so. He and Roger go swimming together most days.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Word is Out

Me: Dave’s watching the sky again and Harriet looks concerned.

Nell: Does she?

Me: You seem a little on edge too.

Nell: I’m afraid Word is Out.

Me: About what?

Nell: Several Beefies wearing Santa hats and carrying mackerel have been spotted in the vicinity.

Me: Santa hats are very last Christmas. It’s 27th December.

Nell: This isn’t a fashion statement. They know Lionel King is here and are preparing to attack.

Me: Oh, I see. Maybe we should just let Lionel deal with this. It’s his fault after all.

Nell: Lionel is a guest in our house. All guests deserve our protection.

Me: I know what Lionel deserves and a mackerel in the face isn’t nearly enough.

Nell: I thought we had discussed this. Where is your Forgiveness and Understanding?

Me: I don’t trust him. Where is Lionel anyway? I haven’t seen him since breakfast.

Nell: Beauregard and Mrs King have kindly allowed him to visit Roary in the tree house.

Me: I hope the visit is being supervised. I know Roary is his son but Lionel has kidnapped him before.

Nell: Oliver is standing guard.

Me: Oliver is an opossum. He’s got no chance against a lion.

Nell: There is much more to Oliver than meets the eye. Henry and Horst have been training him in surveillance and rumour has it that Sally is considering taking him on.

Me: As a spy?

Nell: Who knows?

Me: If I had my all concealing hat I could be a spy.

Nell: We both know that isn’t true. Let it go. Spying is not for you.

Me: I might go over to the tree house and nonchalantly ask if everything is ok.

Nell: You’ve never done anything nonchalantly in your life. Just leave it to the professionals, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Boxing Day

Me: Thank you for looking after Kev so well while I was gone. Did he enjoy the singing and the interpretive dance?

Nell: Yes, but the ham was his favourite.

Me: What ham? You don’t mean Dave, do you? I know he can overdo his acting sometimes but that’s a bit harsh.

Nell: No. Poppy cooked a Christmas ham and Kev had sandwiches in bed.

Me: I’m glad he ate something.

Nell: Yes. Lionel offered to carve but I decided Rupert should be the one to do it.

Me: You made the right decision.

Nell: How was your Christmas lunch?

Me: Really lovely. The food was delicious and it was wonderful to spend time with my sisters and Scarlett.

Nell: I noticed you brought back a plated meal for Kev.

Me: Yes, he’s going to have it today. He was too tired last night.

Nell: Just to let you know that David nearly ate it by mistake this morning.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Fortunately Sally stopped him just in time.

Me: I noticed a few sausages were missing.

Nell: It can happen.

Me: What does that mean?

Nell: Things go missing at Christmas. No bother. Now, did you notice any Beefies in Santa hats on your way home?

Me: No, but Knitwear Wolf and Lionel look very smart in theirs, or hadn’t you noticed?

Nell: I noticed. Moving on, we thought a brisk walk on the beach would be just the thing later.

Me: That’s a marvellous idea, Nell. Kev might even manage to join us for a short walk.

Nell: Yes. Fresh air is good for the soul.

Me: Look at you getting all poetic in your old age.

Nell: Less of the old, thank you madam. None of us are getting any younger.

Me: No. You’re right. Sorry.


Merry Christmas from The Martins

Nell: We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Me: Yes and I’d like to thank you again for your kind cards and messages. They mean a lot.

Nell: Don’t forget the cups of Earl Grey.

Me: Yes. They’ve been a lifesaver and I appreciate your generosity more than I can say.

Nell: Now, you’re going to your sister’s soon for Christmas lunch.

Me: Yes, but Kev is too unwell to go. Should I stay?

Nell: No. He wants you to enjoy yourself. You need it.

Me: I feel I should be by his side.

Nell: You won’t be gone long and we have everything under control.

Me: Thank you.

Nell: Poppy’s made chicken soup and we’re taking it in turns to watch over him.

Me: That’s sweet of you.

Nell: The Welsh Corgi Choir have kindly offered to sing carols.

Me: How kind.

Nell: And Gladys and the Llamas will perform an interpretive dance.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: David will also be reading from Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. Kev’s favourite book.

Me: This is really thoughtful but Kev was actually going to try and sleep. He had a bad night.

Nell: Performances are completely flexible and dependent on the patient’s condition.

Me: Good. Talking of condition, how’s Lionel?

Nell: He’s in a sorry state. I hardly recognised him when he arrived.

Me: You weren’t supposed to, Nell. He was disguised as Santa.

Nell: I mean later when we were enjoying our mulled wine by the fire.

Me: Just you and Lionel?

Nell: Of course not. Rupert was there too. Now go and put on a nice dress. Your sisters are waiting.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Yes. We will all celebrate when you come home. Try not to worry about Kev. We’ve got him.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Christmas Eve

Nell: How’s Kev feeling?

Me: Still coughing but a little better than he was.

Nell: Good.

Me: What are Dave, Harriet and Poppy doing out there?

Nell: Lionel King is on his way so everyone is on high alert.

Me: Is he arriving by helicopter?

Nell: What on earth are you talking about? Lionel has fallen on hard times. He’s not going to fly in like an A-list celebrity.

Me: But they’re looking at the sky. Well, Harriet is. Dave seems to be looking in different directions. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: David is simply covering all areas.

Me: Are we expecting Lionel to jump out at us?

Nell: Of course not. He’s far too tired and low for that. Rupert is collecting him on his motorbike.

Me: Knitwear Wolf is so kind.

Nell: Yes, he is.

Me: He’s the actual epitome of Christmas. Loving and giving. Some might even say he is too kind for his own good.

Nell: Have you quite finished?

Me: Just saying. Anyway, if Lionel is arriving with Rupert why is everyone on high alert?

Nell: We’re expecting a Beefy attack. They have turned against Lionel in a big way

Me: How big?

Nell: Stephen Seagull has promised 3 mackerel and a Santa hat for any information on his whereabouts.

Me: Gosh. Won’t they notice him in the sidecar?

Nell: No. He will be disguised as Santa.

Me: Clever idea.

Nell: We thought so.

Me: I hope they don’t get stopped by children with last minute wishes.

Nell: If they do they do. Children must be listened to, especially at Christmas.

Me: I agree. Is Rupert dressed as a reindeer?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Santa doesn’t usually travel with wolves.

Nell: Santa isn’t usually a lion in disguise.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


A Bad Night

Me: Dave really is a Big Brave Beautiful Boy, isn’t he? I mean just look at that glossy coat.

Nell: What are you doing downstairs? You’ve hardly slept all night.

Me: I know but there’s so much to do before Christmas.

Nell: Never mind all that. Let’s just concentrate on getting Kev better.

Me: I’m pretty sure he’s got the flu, Nell. He has a raging fever and is in a lot of pain.

Nell: I heard him coughing too.

Me: He probably caught it when we went to the hospital.

Nell: Yes. There are some nasty bugs going around.

Me: At least it isn’t Covid. We tested and it came back negative.

Nell: That’s a relief.

Me: I’m afraid Christmas might be cancelled for me and Kev.

Nell: Nonsense. We will make the most of it and you never know he might rally.

Me: Yes. Hopefully. Although, I’m not feeling that great myself, to be honest.

Nell: You’re extremely tired. Why don’t you cuddle up on the sofa with me?

Me: That sounds good.

Nell: We can watch Christmas films and drink lots of tea.

Me: I’d like that. We mustn’t forget your appointment with Chloe this afternoon. You love your hydrotherapy.

Nell: No need to think about this afternoon right now. Rupert can always drive me over there if necessary.

Me: I’m not sure the vets will be expecting you to arrive on the back of a wolf’s motorbike.

Nell: I shall be in the sidecar and Chloe reads our conversations every day so she won’t be surprised at all.

Me: True.

Nell: Now, how does a soft boiled egg sound with soldiers on the side?

Me: Lovely. I don’t know what I would do without you.

Nell: You and me. Always. Never forget that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


The Season of Goodwill

Me: Why are you sitting alone in the field?

Nell: I need time to think and the house is extremely noisy.

Me: Yes, it’s the lead up to Christmas and the Royal Wedding.

Nell: What Royal Wedding?

Me: Princess and Sir Roger Blubbery.

Nell: Princess is royal in name only and Poppy knighted Roger.

Me: Potato, potahto. I had the strangest dream, by the way.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I flew to New York with a lion called Teddy.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: And I lost him in Times Square. I was devastated and I still am a bit even though I know it was only a dream.

Nell: It’s funny you should mention lions, actually, because that’s what I was thinking about.

Me: Not Lionel King again, Nell. He’s a bad lion.

Nell: When Sally and David went down to the beach they came across Lionel and he was in a sorry state.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: Painfully thin with matted hair and tired eyes.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: David even offered him some food as all he’s been living off is discarded garage sandwiches.

Me: The ones with stale bread and wet ham?

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: And Henry and Horst confirmed that rumour has it that the Beefies have turned on him.

Me: Where did they hear that?

Nell: At the Winged Insect Conference.

Me: I see.

Nell: Anyway, at Morning Thoughts today David and Sally suggested we might like to consider offering Lionel the Paw of Forgiveness.

Me: Really?

Nell: It’s Christmas. The season of goodwill.

Me: True.

Nell: Everyone agreed, so we’ve invited him to stay with us for Christmas.

Me: I wasn’t at the meeting.

Nell: No, but Kev was and you two think as one, surely?

Me: Yes. Sorry.