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Cares of the World

Me: Oh Nell. You look like you have the cares of the world on your shoulders.

Nell: I think the events of the past few weeks are finally catching up with me.

Me: I’m not helping.

Nell: At least you are talking to a doctor today.

Me: Yes, I’m sure I will improve soon.

Nell: Did you cancel Sophie the hairdresser?

Me: Yes, and the dentist. And Kev cancelled Chloe.

Nell: We can’t be putting Chloe at risk. My hydrotherapy can wait until next week.

Me: Yes, I’m sure everything will look a lot brighter then.

Nell: It had better. There is only so much one can take. Even a sensible grounded animal like myself.

Me: How is Dave?

Nell: Rupert has taken him fishing. Poppy has made them a picnic of ham sandwiches and lemon drizzle cake with a flask of tea each and some scones for later.

Me: Crusts off?

Nell: Of course not. Rupert and David need a substantial sandwich. Freshly baked crunchy white bread with lashings of butter and thickly cut ham.

Me: Delicious. I wish I could taste again.

Nell: Just give yourself time. Poppy has made you leek and potato soup.

Me: Now, that’s odd.

Nell: What?

Me: Aren’t there usually three llamas?

Nell: Yes. Why?

Me: There seem to be four in the field and one of them is wearing a wig.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably Alejandro. Alpacas are constantly being mistaken for llamas.

Me: It’s not a very good dancer, and who needs a cloak in this weather?

Nell: Did you say cloak?

Me: Yes, a long black velvet cloak with an attractive hood.

Nell: That’s not a wig. It’s a mane. It’s Lionel. Sound the alarm.

Me: We don’t have one.

Nell: Just shout then. Good grief.

Me: Sorry.

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Important Thinking

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy is lying outside on his lounger. Isn’t it a bit early? The Welsh corgi choir aren’t singing until later.

Nell: David wants some time alone. He has some Important Thinking to do.

Me: That sounds rather heavy for a Sunday.

Nell: Sundays are meant for Thinking. You know that.

Me: Maybe Dave is thinking about bacon or what Sunday roast Poppy is cooking.

Nell: He is not. At Morning Thoughts today we were discussing The Current Situation and David is struggling to come to terms with it.

Me: We only need to self isolate for a little while longer, Nell.

Nell: It’s not that. It’s you.

Me: Me?

Nell: David can’t bear it.

Me: I know he doesn’t like me to be ill. I woke up to find his face right next to mine. He must have been watching me sleep.

Nell: We’re supposed to take it in turns but David insists on doing the lion’s share.

Me: Talking of lions, has there been any sign of Lionel King?

Nell: According to eyewitnesses Lionel has been attending the Film Festival in Cannes, the Olympic Games in Tokyo and still managing a coffee at the local Starbarks.

Me: I thought spectators weren’t allowed at the Olympics.

Nell: Is that all you find odd?

Me: No, obviously they must be different lions. Was he really seen at Starbarks? That’s a bit close to home.

Nell: Yes. John the Doberman is Keeping an Eye and Babycakes Gillespie has been warned.

Me: I’m not sure Babycakes Gillespie’s gangster jewellery is something Lionel will be interested in. He’s more about diamonds and pearls.

Nell: Gangster jewellery? What are you talking about? Lionel likes his coffee and Babycakes has a coffee cart. Do keep up.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Sara makes a mistake

Me: Can I say something, please?

Nell: Why are you out of bed?

Me: There’s not a lot of bed left, Nell. It’s full of Labradors.

Nell: I think you will find Poppy is in there somewhere too.

Me: It’s not that I don’t appreciate the attention.

Nell: Good.

Me: It’s just that I could do with a little more space.

Nell: I’m surprised you’ve got any space left after yesterday.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: I know about the doughnuts.

Me: What doughnuts?

Nell: The extra sugary ones our kind neighbour Susannah brought round for you and Kev.

Me: Oh those doughnuts.

Nell: Yes. The doughnuts you ate.

Me: I couldn’t resist them, Nell.

Nell: Without Sharing.

Me: The thing is I can’t taste anything because of Covid but somehow the gorgeously sugary loveliness of a doughnut with lots of jam inside was a huge comfort.

Nell: The gorgeously sugary loveliness?

Me: Yes.

Nell: So, that’s why you ate Kev’s doughnut too?

Me: I wasn’t going to eat it. It just happened.

Nell: Eating two doughnuts doesn’t just happen.

Me: No. I suppose it doesn’t.

Nell: But in view of the fact that you are unwell and Kev isn’t pressing charges we will agree to let it go this time.

Me: Pressing charges?

Nell: Stealing is stealing. Even when the evidence has been eaten. Ask David.

Me: It was just so nice to actually enjoy something. You don’t realise how much your sense of smell affects your taste until it’s gone.

Nell: Don’t stick your face in the fish again, please? I saw you with the sea bass.

Me: I was hoping I could smell it.

Nell: You might not be able to smell it but we can smell you. Nobody wants a fishy face.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Not such positive news

Me: What are you all whispering about?

Nell: Poppy and I are consoling David.

Me: Why?

Nell: You know perfectly well why.

Me: I don’t want to make a fuss, Nell.

Nell: People need to know.

Me: You tell them.

Nell: Yesterday evening Sara heard that she has tested positive for COVID19 and it is more than likely that Kev has it too.

Me: I don’t know how I got it, Nell.

Nell: Never mind dwelling on how you got it. The wretched virus is everywhere at the moment. The main thing is that both you and Kev are double vaccinated.

Me: Thank goodness for those wonderful scientists and the vaccine.

Nell: Yes.

Me: I thought I had a bad summer cold.

Nell: We had our suspicions and when you lost your sense of smell we knew.

Me: I’m so glad you are all here, Nell.

Nell: Where else would we be? Now, back to David. He isn’t dealing very well with this news.

Me: My poor Big Brave Beautiful Boy. Is he worried about me?

Nell: He’s worried about you and bacon.

Me: Bacon isn’t top of my agenda at the moment.

Nell: But it’s top of David’s. It’s his answer to everything.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: If he can’t offer you the comfort of bacon sandwiches he feels useless.

Me: He’s not useless. I don’t need bacon. I need hugs and Dave’s are the best.

Nell: Yes. That’s what I told him.

Me: It’s funny how difficult times can make you realise how lucky you are.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: I’m surrounded by love, Nell. Even if people can’t physically be here I can still feel it and know they care.

Nell: That’s what I keep telling you. We’ll get through this together.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Fig Chutney

Me: Why are you and Poppy looking so concerned?

Nell: We’re tired of waiting for your test results.

Me: I’m not finding it easy either, but I don’t think that’s the reason. Is there something you’re not telling me?

Nell: What do you think of Poppy’s new haircut? It’s perfect for this hot weather, isn’t it?

Me: Just tell me.

Nell: Lionel got away.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Dorothy did her best to distract him with a selection of local cheeses and some fig chutney, but he wasn’t interested.

Me; I don’t think I’ve ever had fig chutney.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: He said he was happy with what was in his basket and did she work for Barks and Spencer because why else would she be pestering him?

Me: That was a bit rude of him.

Nell: I think he was hungry.

Me: Or hangry. It happens to us all.

Nell: Anyway, Dorothy said she didn’t actually work for Barks and Spencer but she liked to share recommendations to which Lionel replied, ‘Go and share them with someone else then.’

Me: Now, that really was rude.

Nell: Dorothy burst into tears and while an elderly Airedale was comforting her with a shortbread biscuit, Lionel paid and left.

Me: So, he’s still out there?

Nell: Yes. Beauregard scoured the town but there was no sign of him so we are guessing he has moved on.

Me: Maybe he’s hired another boat?

Nell: You might be right. Beauregard said all wasn’t lost as he and Oliver were able to enjoy an ice cream in the sunshine before they came home.

Me: I didn’t know Oliver was involved.

Nell: Oh yes. Where Beau goes, he goes.

Me: It’s Beau now, is it?

Nell: Yes. Why?

Me: Nothing. Sorry.

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Spotted in Barks and Spencer

Nell: What are you doing downstairs?

Me: I thought I’d make myself a cup of tea.

Nell: You’re doing no such thing. You’re confined to bed until further notice.

Me: That’s harsh.

Nell: It’s for your own good and everyone else’s. Until your test results are back you must remain in isolation.

Me: Does that mean you won’t be visiting me?

Nell: Of course I will. Labradors and the more robust animals will continue to have regular access.

Me: Who isn’t robust, if I may ask?

Nell: Malcolm. He worries.

Me: What about Henry and Horst?

Nell: Henry and Horst? They are some of the most robust creatures I know. They go where they like.

Me: Silly me. Was that your iBone?

Nell: Yes, I’d better take the call. My friend Dorothy the Salcombe Setter is picking up a few items for me from Barks and Spencer. ‘Hello dear. Who? Are you sure?’

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: Dorothy saw Lionel King in the Chilled Foods section buying a sandwich.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: ‘He bought a drink, too, and a packet of crisps? Interesting.’

Me: A meal deal. He might as well.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: ‘Now, listen to me carefully, dear. I’m going to let Beauregard know where Lionel is, but in the meantime you’re going to have to try and keep him there.’

Me: You never call me ‘dear’.

Nell: Quiet. ‘I don’t know how you’re going to do that either, dear. Use your feminine wiles. Toss that glossy red hair of yours. Do whatever you must, until Beauregard arrives. Bye.’

Me: I’m not sure Dorothy is going to be enough to distract a hungry lion. Although she might be if he’s really hungry.

Nell: Stop that right now. I’m calling Beauregard.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Pillow Testing

Me: Where are Dave and Harriet? I haven’t seen them this morning and they usually come upstairs to check on me.

Nell: David and Harriet are downstairs in the living room Pillow Testing with Kev.

Me: Did you say Pillow Testing?

Nell: Yes. David is particularly involved in the research. He has extremely sensitive paws for a large animal and a delicate touch.

Me: Does he? I hadn’t noticed.

Nell: Yes. Finding the right pillow is a complicated process. They need to be soft to the touch but with the right amount of bounce.

Me: I know what you mean but why do we need new pillows?

Nell: We don’t need them. You do.

Me: I do?

Nell: Yes. You’ve been coughing all night and it simply cannot continue.

Me: I can’t help it, Nell. It’s this awful cold. There’s nothing I can do.

Nell: We know that. You need greater support. But don’t worry because the right pillows are going to help you.

Me: Are they?

Nell: Yes. Harriet and Kev are squashing them right now.

Me: Squashing them?

Nell: Yes. They are far too hard at first. You don’t know a lot about pillows, do you?

Me: Not as much as you.

Nell: David is gently poking them to check for consistency. There’s nothing worse than a lumpy pillow.

Me: Well, I’m impressed. I do have one question though.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Aren’t the pillows going to be awfully hairy after all that squashing?

Nell: Hair can be hoovered you know.

Me: Yes, but it’s quite a nuisance.

Nell: Nothing is too much trouble when one is in the pursuit of an ideal pillow. We dogs are experts.

Me: You don’t have to do the hoovering though.

Nell: We can’t do everything.

Me: No. I suppose not. Sorry.

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Nell is Home

Me: Oh, Nell, you’re home.

Nell: Of course I am.

Me: I woke up this morning and there you were next to my bed.

Nell: As soon as I heard you were unwell I said to Rupert, ‘I don’t care if they’ve caught that wretched lion or not, I’m going home. She needs me.’

Me: I’ve missed you terribly.

Nell: Now, with a cold and a cough it’s essential to keep up your liquid intake.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And nothing beats lemon and honey tea.

Me: Ok.

Nell: Poppy is also preparing some chicken soup for lunch.

Me: It isn’t really soup weather.

Nell: I don’t care, soup is what you’re having.

Me: What about ice cream?

Nell: We’ll see.

Me: What’s the news on Lionel?

Nell: They thought they spotted him on Dartmoor but it turned out to be a lynx.

Me: A lynx? What on earth was it doing on Dartmoor?

Nell: Hiking with the family. Beauregard said it wasn’t best pleased.

Me: It wouldn’t be. I expect it ruined its holiday.

Nell: Yes. Nobody wants to be pounced on by a tiger half way up Haytor.

Me: They certainly don’t. I wonder where Lionel is.

Nell: There have been several sightings. Sailing at Salcombe. Surfing at Bantham. The usual things. Beauregard will find him eventually.

Me: I hope he doesn’t turn up here.

Nell: He wouldn’t dare. Everyone is armed to the teeth.

Me: With swords?

Nell: No. That’s just Poppy. The others have wooden spoons and water pistols.

Me: Is that enough?

Nell: A hard tap on the muzzle will deter most lions and they hate getting their manes wet.

Me: I never knew that.

Nell: Why would you? Now, drink your lemon and honey and stop worrying about lions. I’m here now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Time to come home

Me: When is Knitwear Wolf bringing you back? Poppy and the puppies came home last night.

Nell: As soon as Beauregard has found Lionel. Rupert thinks I am at risk until then and best staying here.

Me: The puppies won’t leave the window, apart from the odd bacon sandwich, and even Poppy is worried.

Nell: It won’t be long. There’s been a sighting of Lionel on Dartmoor so everyone has gone up there.

Me: Even Knitwear Wolf? You aren’t alone in that little house are you? Because I could come there right now.

Nell: No. Rupert is here and by the sounds of it so are the Welsh corgi choir.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: They just passed by on a boat singing their hearts out.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: I can’t believe Lionel King had me fooled. It’s not like me to be taken in by a luxurious mane and smooth talking.

Me: You do have a weakness for a handsome animal, Nell. Admit it.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Charlie was extremely dashing and Rupert is a bit of a looker.

Nell: A bit of a looker?

Me: Well, he is.

Nell: I agree that Rupert is a most dignified and reassuring kind of wolf but he and I are just friends, I can assure you.

Me: Whatever you say, Mistress Nelly.

Nell: Enough.

Me: You have to be here for Sunday lunch, Nell. Poppy is cooking Roast Beef with all the trimmings including her famous Yorkshire Puddings.

Nell: Tempting as that is I shall be governed by Rupert and Sally’s advice.

Me: Let’s hope we hear something soon then. I don’t want to be without you for a moment longer.

Nell: You are never without me. Wherever we are. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An Undisclosed Location

Me: Oh Nell, are you safe?

Nell: Yes, I’m at an undisclosed location.

Me: Are you in the little house on the river?

Nell: I just said undisclosed. Good grief.

Me: But I know where that is, Nell. Let me come and get you.

Nell: No. Rupert wants us to lie low for a little longer. Lionel is on the run.

Me: The villain.

Nell: Don’t worry Beauregard is on his trail.

Me: Good for him.

Nell: He has Lionel’s scent. He’ll track him down. Sally and her team are his back up.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Rupert and the pirate ship arrived alongside.

Me: Did you pretend to be scared?

Nell: I was scared to be honest, although seeing Harriet waving secretly from the ship helped.

Me: What about Poppy?

Nell: She drew her sword and said ‘Let the wolf on board.’

Me: It wasn’t her decision to make.

Nell: She gets carried away. Anyway, Rupert jumped on to the deck and said, ‘Well, Mistress Nelly, we meet again.‘

Me: How romantic.

Nell: I was haughty and distant of course.

Me: You’re good at that.

Nell: He demanded to see the jewels and when Lionel went below to get them he swept me up in his arms.

Me: And carried you over to his ship?

Nell: Yes. David leapt across with Poppy and Henry. He had to wear my hat, but he didn’t mind.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Lionel roared in fury and the Beefies started throwing mackerel.

Me: The hooligans.

Nell: They were no match for SLOP but during the kerfuffle Lionel jumped overboard and swam away.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He was spotted near the river but he won’t get far. Beauregard will find him. The main thing is we’re safe.

Me: Yes. Sorry.