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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.

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Kev Time

Nell: Have you seen David? Sally is looking for him.

Me: He’s in the yellow chair having cuddles with Kev.

Nell: This isn’t the time for cuddles. We have work to do.

Me: Just let him enjoy his Kev Time. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: We’d all like more Kev Time but there’s a baby lion out there who needs his mother.

Me: You’re right. What’s the latest?

Nell: Mrs King is considering taking legal action to force Lionel to return Roary.

Me: Can she do that?

Nell: Yes. She was granted full custody in the divorce so he has no right to do this.

Me: I didn’t know the separation was official.

Nell: It is. She’s already been in contact with her solicitor.

Me: A legal eagle?

Nell: No, a turtle.

Me: A turtle?

Nell: Do you have a problem with that?

Me: Not at all but won’t it take time?

Nell: Possibly and the worry is that Lionel might decide to take Roary out of the country.

Me: So, Lionel and Roary are still staying at the Burgh Island Hotel?

Nell: They are. Princess and Our Penguin swam over this morning and filmed Roary playing in the gardens so Mrs King could see he was fine.

Me: That was thoughtful of them. Did Our Penguin climb up to the hotel? He can’t have filmed it from the sea.

Nell: Of course not. Haven’t you seen his little feet? He used a drone. Do keep up.

Me: Well, I’m glad Roary is not distressed.

Nell: Mrs King was extremely relieved too. Owl Pacino and the Royal Owl Force are going to fly over later just to check on Roary and let Lionel know he is being monitored.

Me: Is that wise?

Nell: They are owls.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Lions and Tigers

Me: You’re looking at me in a particular way. Have I done something wrong?

Nell: I’m trying to decide if you’re to be trusted. There are things I wouldn’t mind discussing with you.

Me: I definitely am. Especially if it’s about Mrs King and Beauregard. I love a good romance.

Nell: This isn’t one of your stories, you know. This is real life. A lioness doesn’t just fall in love with a tiger.

Me: Beauregard isn’t any old tiger. He’s awfully handsome and ever so charming.

Nell: Mrs King was a married lion at the time.

Me: Married to a nasty lion.

Nell: Lionel King wasn’t nasty when she first met him.

Me: What happened?

Nell: He got involved with the wrong crowd.

Me: Beefies?

Nell: No. Rooks.

Me: Oh dear. A whole parliament?

Nell: Why bring politics into it?

Me: No, it’s what you call a group of rooks.

Nell: Anyway, he started playing poker and soon he owed the rooks a large amount of money.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Mrs King says Lionel began to change for the worse. She hardly recognised the lion she had married.

Me: How sad.

Nell: Little Roary was born but Lionel had no time for him. He was now working full time for the rooks.

Me: Stealing and cheating?

Nell: Exactly. It was during a poker game at their house that Mrs King first met Beauregard.

Me: Was he a baddie too?

Nell: No. He had retired as an international jewel thief and was now working undercover.

Me: Of course. Silly me.

Nell: When their eyes met she said it was like coming home. She just knew he was the one and so did he.

Me: You do, don’t you?

Nell: Yes. It was the same for me and Charlie.

Me: Sorry.

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Sharing a Bed and Taking Tea.

Me: Why are Poppy and Dave sharing a bed when you have a whole sofa and an excess of cushions to yourself?

Nell: Poppy had her hair cut and David felt she needed him to keep her warm.

Me: I’m not sure she agrees, judging by her face.

Nell: Now, Mrs King is taking tea with me later in the drawing room so we’ll need some space.

Me: We don’t have a drawing room.

Nell: Drawing room, living room, they’re the same thing.

Me: If we had a drawing room it would be for Timothy so he doesn’t have to paint in the kitchen.

Nell: Is Timothy back from retreat?

Me: He flew in just now.

Nell: Nonsense. We both know turkeys only fly very short distances and Timothy has been abroad.

Me: Knitwear Wolf collected him from the station on his motorbike. Malcolm went with him in the sidecar.

Nell: I hope there was enough room for Timothy.

Me: Princess goes in it all the time and she’s a seal so there’s definitely room for a turkey and a flamingo.

Nell: Feathers take up more room than you think and Malcolm has long legs.

Me: Long spindly legs which he can tuck away.

Nell: I suppose so.

Me: What are you going to discuss with Mrs King?

Nell: Never you mind.

Me: I bet you want to know all about her romantic affair with Beauregard.

Nell: Mrs King’s personal life is none of my business.

Me: That’s not the impression I got when you were gossiping with your friend Dorothy just now on your iBone.

Nell: I was merely bringing Dorothy up to date. She’s most concerned about Roary. Eavesdropping is a most unattractive trait, by the way, and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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A Lioness and a Luxury Breakfast

Me: There’s a lioness in the kitchen eating smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

Nell: Yes, I know. She’s sharing a luxury breakfast with The Cat.

Me: A luxury breakfast?

Nell: Yes. There’s caviar and Poppy has made blinis.

Me: Aren’t blinis Russian pancakes?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Poppy has never made blinis for us.

Nell: I know.

Me: Why not?

Nell: Probably because we didn’t win a luxury breakfast in the New Year’s raffle.

Me: But the lioness did?

Nell: No. The Cat did. The lioness just happened to come into the kitchen when The Cat was eating, so it asked her to stay.

Me: Do you think that really ‘just happened’?Don’t you think the lioness knew there might be a luxury breakfast going spare and just decided to join in?

Nell: It wasn’t going spare. Anyway, Mrs King has come to see Sally about Oliver. She had no idea about any luxury breakfasts.

Me: Mrs King? That’s rather formal.

Nell: We’ve only just met.

Me: I wonder if she’s called Elsa. If I had a lioness that would be my name for it.

Nell: Well, this lioness is a free spirit and her name is Carole.

Me: Carole? Do you think she can sing?

Nell: Why bring singing into it? She’s not a corgi.

Me: Never mind. What does she want to tell Sally about Oliver?

Nell: Isn’t it obvious?

Me: Oh my goodness. Mrs King is Roary’s mother. We’ve found Roary’s mother.

Nell: Yes, Sherlock Martin. Although, I think you will find Roary’s mother found us.

Me; Did she put him in our loft?

Nell: She did and since the kidnapping she has been hiding in the treehouse.

Me: With Oliver?

Nell: Yes, and much more to the point, with her companion and secret love, Beauregard.

Me: Gosh. Sorry.

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Harriet is Concerned

Me: Is Harriet missing Roary?

Nell: Yes, she adored that little lion cub but there has been other rather troubling news this morning.

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Sally has identified the thief.

Me: I think thief is a little harsh. It was only half a tub of ice cream.

Nell: I’m not talking about you.

Me: Oh, I see. Who is it then?

Nell: Oliver.

Me: Oliver? I know opossums have a bad reputation but I didn’t expect Sally to jump to conclusions.

Nell: She didn’t. We have footage of Oliver taking stolen food up to the treehouse on a number of occasions.

Me: Footage? Do we have CCTV?

Nell: No, we have Henry and Horst.

Me: Well, I don’t think that was very nice of them. Filming a friend secretly. It’s not on.

Nell: Henry and Horst are spies. You know that. They are simply doing their job. Anyway, that’s not the point.

Me: Oliver wouldn’t just steal. He will have a very good reason.

Nell: Yes, and we will soon know what it is. Oliver is in the interrogation room with Sally right now.

Me: Interrogation room? That’s awful. She’s not going to hurt him, is she?

Nell: What are you talking about? Sally and Oliver are in the living room with Beauregard having a quiet chat.

Me: Beauregard? Why is he there?

Nell: He insisted. You know how protective he is of Oliver.

Me: There’s going to be a perfectly acceptable explanation for this. I’m sure of it.

Nell: Let’s wait and see, shall we?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Why don’t you go and enjoy Sunday Songs or the smell of our roast dinner cooking in the kitchen? That’s what I’m going to do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.