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Home Again

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy enjoying special cuddles with Kev.

Nell: David has been through an extremely traumatic time.

Me: It’s wonderful to be home again. Where are Henry and Horst?

Nell: Enjoying a crisp leaf salad in the kitchen with Poppy. Richly deserved.

Me: They’re a pair of superheroes. Is the hypnotised Beefy still here?

Nell: No. Henry and Horst took George out of his trance as soon as he dropped them home. He won’t remember a thing.

Me: Do we know he’s called George, or did you just make that up?

Nell: Excuse me? I think you’ll find I am anchored in reality. Unlike some. George introduced himself to Henry and Horst when they parachuted onto him.

Me: How polite.

Nell: Yes, they said he has impeccable manners.

Me: Well, George was certainly a great help escorting us down to the sea tractor. None of the rooks questioned a Beefy.

Nell: What about Lionel?

Me: We waited behind a walrus until he’d gone.

Nell: Did you say walrus?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was it Arctic Bob?

Me: No. I think it was a tourist. It was carrying a map.

Nell: Fair enough.

Me: It was lovely to see Knitwear Wolf waiting for us on his motorbike.

Nell: Did you ride in the sidecar?

Me: I did. Dave sat behind Rupert. How are the darling cubs?

Nell: They’ve been staying up in the treehouse with Beauregard and Mrs King since they got back but they’re allowed to join in Sunday Songs today.

Me: I hope they’re allowed some of Poppy’s roast dinner later.

Nell: Of course. We shall all dine together to celebrate everyone’s safe return.

Me: I quite enjoyed playing a famous author.

Nell: Well, keep writing then and you may become one.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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You’re really not going to believe this.

Nell: I’m down on our beach. Beefy footprints everywhere as usual. Any news?

Me: You’re not going to believe this.

Nell: Go on.

Me: Just now there was a knock on our door.

Nell: Did you open it?

Me: No, because we’re locked in.

Nell: Oh yes.

Me: I said, ‘I’m a famous author with a giant singing labrador and we are locked in. Could you open the door?’

Nell: Why all the extra information?

Me: I’m undercover, Nell. They replied, ‘Your room can only be locked from the inside, madam. Kindly open your balcony door and I’ll fly round and open it for you.’

Nell: Wait a minute. You locked yourselves in?

Me: The rooks told us to.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Anyway, the next moment a Beefy flew in. And that isn’t even the strange part.

Nell: It isn’t?

Me: It had really heavy eyebrows.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: And it was smiling.

Nell: Have you been sampling the mini bar again?

Me: No. Guess what happened next.

Nell: I’d rather not.

Me: The eyebrows fell off and it was Henry and Horst.

Nell: Really?

Me: Yes. When Dave threw his hat in the air they activated their parachutes.

Nell: Their what?

Me: They always wear them when they are on manoeuvres. Anyway, they floated down and landed on a Beefy.

Nell: As one does.

Me: Now, unbeknownst to most.

Nell: Good word.

Me: Thank you. Henry and Horst are hypnotists. Learnt from their time with The Great Mutliano.

Nell: Of course.

Me: So they whispered in the Beefy’s ears and to cut a long story short it’s helping us escape.

Nell: Well, you’d better get a move on because Lionel King has just been spotted crossing to the island on the sea tractor.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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To the Rescue

Me: I’ve got good news and bad news again.

Nell: Start with the good news.

Me: When Dave and I got to the Agatha Christie suite the rooks were a bit sceptical at first.

Nell: Understandably.

Me: Although I had my knitting and Dave was wearing his top hat so they recognised us.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: After a few songs and a knit one pearl one, or two, they finally let us in and we admired the view.

Nell: Good.

Me: The suite is vast with several bedrooms but I knew where the cubs were because of the growling.

Nell: Well done.

Me: While Dave invited them onto the balcony for a couple of sea shanties he learned from Tony, I located the cubs and smuggled them out under my cloak.

Nell: Didn’t the rooks notice?

Me: No. I just waved goodbye at them in a confident and imperious sort of manner.

Nell: Did you run up the hill?

Me: The cubs did. I told them to lie low by the ruins and wait for the helicopter and went back to get Dave.

Nell: Poppy was on standby so they won’t have waited long. I’m expecting them back here at any moment. What’s the bad news?

Me: We probably shouldn’t have cheered.

Nell: Cheered?

Me: I might have yelled ‘Yes!’ when I saw the helicopter flying over and Dave threw his hat in the air.

Nell: But Henry and Horst were on the hat. Where are they?

Me: We don’t know because the rooks have locked us in our room until Lionel gets back.

Nell: You were supposed to leave as soon as you saw the helicopter. Now Henry and Horst are missing in action and you and David are imprisoned.

Me: At least the cubs are safe. Sorry.

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The Plan

Nell: Why are you calling me so late? I’m watching University Challenge.

Me: I wanted to run through tomorrow’s plan to save the cubs again.

Nell: Lionel King has a meeting on the mainland so he will be off the island all morning.

Me: Who with?

Nell: You mean with whom and that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: The cubs will be in the Agatha Christie suite guarded by rooks. You and David will go there and ask to be let in.

Me: What if they refuse?

Nell: You insist. You’re a famous author. You need to see where Agatha stayed.

Me: So I am famous?

Nell: This is just the role you are playing.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Once inside, David will distract the rooks with his singing while you find the cubs and smuggle them out under your cloak.

Me: I don’t have a cloak.

Nell: Yes, you do. Check in the wardrobe. The Cat sent one over.

Me: I forgot. Are you sure I can fit a tiger and a lion under it?

Nell: No, but you’ll have to find a way. Once you are out you must run to the top of the hill next to the ruins and leave the cubs there.

Me: Would a brisk walk do? I’m not much good at running.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I don’t like the thought of leaving them there alone. It’s ever so cold at the moment and they are only babies.

Nell: They won’t be alone for long. Poppy will fly in with her helicopter and rescue them.

Me: What about me and Dave?

Nell: You have to pretend to help the rooks search for them.

Me: Can’t we go in the helicopter too?

Nell: You need to give Poppy time.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Good News and Bad News

Nell: So, how was the soirée?

Me: I’ve got good news and bad news.

Nell: Go on.

Me: The good news is that Dave was a huge hit with the rooks.

Nell: Any particular reason why?

Me: They enjoyed the singing but it was mainly down to the pie.

Nell: Before we get to the pie, would you like to explain the singing, please? Only, I seem to remember you were asked to be discreet.

Me: I was ever so discreet. I just sat and knitted.

Nell: You don’t knit.

Me: I know but Miss Marple does so I thought it might be a good idea.

Nell: Good grief. Just tell me about the pie.

Me: Well, for someone unknown reason there was a Victorian theme going on.

Nell: I’m beginning to regret asking this.

Me: And the hotel decided to serve the old favourite of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

Nell: Don’t tell me David ate the blackbirds?

Me: No. He bit into the pie and released them all to tumultuous applause.

Nell: Especially from the blackbirds, I expect.

Me: Yes. They were only sitting in the pie but it was ever so cramped.

Nell: Dare I ask what the bad news is?

Me: I’m afraid we didn’t manage to take any photos in the ballroom. Only one of Dave in the garden, but it’s a good one.

Nell: Was Lionel King there?

Me: Yes, alone though. No sign of Roary or Tigerlily.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. Sally’s plan worked. While you and David were acting as decoys Sally’s team managed to locate them.

Me: Where are they?

Nell: In the Agatha Christie suite and you are going to help us save them.

Me: I am?

Nell: You can do this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An Invitation

Me: You look awfully worried. Has something happened?

Nell: Why haven’t you been answering your iBone? I’ve been trying to get hold of you for ages.

Me: Have you? I didn’t realise. Why?

Nell: The last I heard someone was knocking at your door.

Me: I must have accidentally put it on silent.

Nell: Did you open the door?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was it room service?

Me: No. It was a rather stylish French rook with an envelope in its beak.

Nell: Did it say anything?

Me: No. It just dropped the envelope, bowed and left.

Nell: How do you know it was French then?

Me: It was wearing a beret and a little red scarf around its neck.

Nell: I see. That makes sense. What was in the envelope?

Me: Well, that’s the exciting part. Dave and I have been invited to a party.

Nell: A party?

Me: Yes, this evening. It’s black so I’m not sure what I’m going to wear.

Nell: Don’t you mean black tie? You can wear your best dress.

Me: No. Just black. Dave has his top hat and fur coat but what about me? Maybe The Cat can send something over?

Nell: What does the invitation say?

Me: ‘NOIR cordially invites Sara and David Martin to a special soirée in the ballroom at 7pm on Tuesday, 18th January, 2022. Dress: Black.

Nell: NOIR?

Me: Yes, it means black in French.

Nell: It also means the Notorious Organisation of International Rooks.

Me: Oh yes. I’d forgotten.

Nell: You and David are going to have to be very careful not to arouse suspicion, but take as many photos as you can.

Me: Where are Henry and Horst going to go? I can’t wear my hat.

Nell: David has his top hat.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Monday Updates

Me: You sound tired.

Nell: I’m just resting my eyes. Poppy is here. I’ve got you on speaker.

Me: We’ve checked in to the hotel.

Nell: Any problems?

Me: Not really.

Nell: What does that mean?

Me: I may have had a slight disagreement with a rather rude man on reception.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: He said, ‘ When you mentioned you were bringing your dog I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so large.‘

Nell: That’s unforgivably rude. Calling David ‘large’ and ‘it.’

Me: I said, ‘You don’t seem to mind lions and tiger cubs so I don’t see why a large Labrador should bother you.’

Nell: You said ‘tiger cubs’?

Me: Yes. He looked ever so shifty and mumbled about upgrading me which goes to prove Tigerlily is definitely here.

Nell: Sally told you to be discreet.

Me: Anyway, we now have a luxury suite with plenty of room and a lovely view of our beach. You’ll have to let me know when you’re going down there next and we can wave to you from the balcony.

Nell: May I remind you that you are not on holiday. You are on a mission.

Me: Yes, but I have to get into my role. Famous author and her trusty four legged companion. The hotel has a history of accommodating authors you know.

Nell: You aren’t famous.

Me: They don’t know that.

Nell: We need you to make a thorough tour of the hotel and grounds. Take photos if you can but don’t be too obvious.

Me: Don’t worry I shall wear a hat.

Nell: Just try not to draw attention to yourselves, please.

Me: Oh, there’s someone knocking at the door. Must be room service. Funny, I haven’t ordered anything.

Nell: Don’t open the door.

Me: Got to go. Sorry.

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We need your help

Nell: Sally has decided to give you an important task.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: You’re going to have to remain Calm and Unflappable.

Me: I can do that.

Nell: Have you heard of Growltiger?

Me: Possibly.

Nell: He’s been in the top ten of the Animal Charts for decades.

Me: I’m not sure I know the Animal Charts.

Nell: You do. David and his band Driftwood Bark managed to get into the top 40 with ‘Bacon on the Beach’. Remember?

Me: Oh yes. Is Growltiger performing at Sunday Songs?

Nell: No. Growltiger performs in stadiums, not a muddy field with the Welsh corgi choir.

Me: Glastonbury is muddy.

Nell: Growltiger is Beauregard’s brother and he has a daughter called Tigerlily.

Me: Ok.

Nell: Tigerlily recently went missing.

Me: Like Roary?

Nell: Beauregard connected the two when the parcel arrived.

Me: What was in it?

Nell: Pelage.

Me: Why are you speaking French?

Nell: It means fur coat.

Me: It is rather cold.

Nell: It contained clippings of tiger fur.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And a note.

Me: What did it say?

Nell: ‘Missing someone?’

Me: Is it Tigerlily’s fur?

Nell: Beauregard is sure of it.

Me: What a coincidence. Two cubs going missing at the same time.

Nell: It’s no coincidence.

Me: Is Lionel King is behind this?

Nell: Yes, and you’re going to prove it.

Me: I am?

Nell: A crate was taken to the hotel by sea tractor a few days ago surrounded by rooks.

Me: And you think Tigerlily was in the crate?

Nell: Yes, that’s why we’ve booked you a room. Henry and Horst are going with you, so you won’t be alone.

Me: Couldn’t I take Knitwear Wolf, or Dave?

Nell: Sally might agree to David. You can do this you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Monitoring Deliveries

Me: Are you and Dave waiting for someone?

Nell: There has been a worrying development so David and I are monitoring all deliveries.

Me: You’re not going to see much from back there on the sofa.

Nell: I am being guided by David. If he gives a Warning Bark I will join him immediately.

Me: Immediately is a bit of an exaggeration, Nell. Nowadays it takes you quite a time to get off the sofa.

Nell: I will join in him in my own good time then. Arthritis isn’t much good for spontaneity.

Me: Tell me about it.

Nell: I just did.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: Have you eaten your morning cereal yet?

Me: Yes, although I was hoping for a bacon sandwich as it’s Saturday.

Nell: Poppy has other priorities today. The troops are gathering and picnics need to be made. Armies march on their stomachs.

Me: What troops?

Nell: The general kind. Knitwear Wolf and Sally say we have to be prepared.

Me: For war? What on earth happened?

Nell: Beauregard received a very upsetting parcel.

Me: In the post?

Nell: No. Hanging on a lobster’s claw. Somebody tied it to the treehouse.

Me: Was it alive?

Nell: No. It was just the claw.

Me: How shocking.

Nell: Oliver says Beauregard turned white when he saw what was inside.

Me: Can tigers turn white?

Nell: You know what I mean. His stripes faded.

Me: What happened then?

Nell: Beauregard was absolutely furious and his stripes came back with a vengeance.

Me: Good for him. Go tiger!

Nell: He sprang out of the treehouse and shouted up at the sky, ‘This is war!’

Me: Well, I’m signing up.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t even know what’s happened and besides, you’re a writer not a fighter.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Gathering Evidence or Enjoying the Beach?

Me: How was your visit to the beach?

Nell: Extremely interesting, thank you very much.

Me: I noticed you took an awful lot of photos.

Nell: We did. Have you examined the evidence?

Me: What evidence?

Nell: Gulls were Gathering. Things were on the move.

Me: Yes, until Harriet chased them away.

Nell: And there was a suspiciously copious amount of seaweed all over the beach.

Me: Which you and Dave seemed to find absolutely fascinating.

Nell: We were looking for clues.

Me: It seemed to me that you were all having tremendous fun. Apart from Poppy who tried to eat her lead.

Nell: She doesn’t like to be restrained. Poppy is a free spirit. She can’t stand being tethered.

Me: This may sound silly but what kind of clues were you actually expecting to find?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: When you all said you needed to get down to the beach urgently.

Nell: One has to move fast in times of crisis.

Me: Was it actually because you fancied a walk on the beach and a quick swim?

Nell: How dare you suggest such a thing. Gathering evidence is an essential part of the process.

Me: What process and evidence of what? We know Roary and Lionel are at the Burgh Island Hotel and we know the Beefies are guarding the beaches.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. Take another look at the photos.

Me: Harriet is simply having tremendous fun chasing Beefies.

Nell: Those aren’t Beefies.

Me: They aren’t?

Nell: No. They are gulls. Much smaller than Beefies and low ranking.

Me: So, where were the Beefies?

Nell: Exactly. And who is in the sea tractor heading towards the island?

Me: What sea tractor?

Nell: Just examine the evidence properly next time, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.