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Oh Harriet

Me: What was wrong with Harriet last night?

Nell: I don’t know.

Me: Getting me up at 3:30am and then Kev at 6am with her barking.

Nell: She’s outside now listening to Sunday Songs with Poppy.

Me: Good.

Nell: She knows you’re not happy.

Me: I’m just a bit tired.

Nell: Malcolm is feeling a little out of sorts today too, so Harriet is going to help Poppy prepare the vegetables for today’s roast beef.

Me: Will Dave be helping?

Nell: David is not to be trusted. Remember the Yorkshire pudding incident?

Me: They are very moreish.

Nell: A whole tray cannot be a mistake.

Me: I suppose not. Anyway, how did the dinner with Babycakes Gillespie go?

Nell: It didn’t start well. Alejandro was tired when they got to Plymouth and refused to wait outside.

Me: Fair enough.

Nell: So Malcolm had to ask Babycakes if his alpaca could join them.

Me: And could he?

Nell: Yes, but he snored his way through dinner which didn’t help the ambience.

Me: Was the food good?

Nell: It was all rather rich and served on gold plates. Malcolm prefers a leaner cuisine.

Me: What about Gladys’s contemporary dance?

Nell: Fortunately Alejandro woke up so he played his maracas.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Yes. Babycakes was a little taken aback when she jumped on the table.

Me: Understandably.

Nell: We’re used to it by now, of course, but it is a little disconcerting the first time it happens.

Me: Do you think they’ll be invited back?

Nell: Let’s see how the dinner here goes first.

Me: Here?

Nell: Yes. Malcolm felt obliged to return the invitation.

Me: He’s not coming to Sunday roast today, is he?

Nell: Certainly not. Sunday roast is family time. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Jonathan Sky is Four Today

Me: I can’t believe Jonathan is four today.

Nell: Yes, it seems only yesterday that he was three.

Me: You’re on form today. Do you know that was the last time we went on the big beach?

Nell: I know, but we will be going back there in October when dogs are allowed again.

Me: Yes.

Nell: I have written him a poem. Would you like to hear it?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: ‘Why are you dancing

With a balloon in your paw?

It’s somebody’s birthday

Of that I am sure.

It’s somebody special

But who can it be?

Shall we start guessing

While we drink our tea?

A cake shaped like a rocket?

That gives me a clue

That someone likes rockets

The question is who.

It’s a someone who knows

An awful lot about space

And planets and stars

And rockets that race.

If I shut my eyes tightly

And fluff out my hair

I can see who it is

As if I was there.

He’s surrounded by presents

All over the floor

It’s Jonathan Sky

And he’s turning Four.

His Mummy and Papa

And little sister Faye

Are all clapping their hands

At this wonderful day.

Granny and Nell

And Grandpa and Dave

And Poppy and Harriet

Are giving a wave.

They want you to know

They love you so much

All the way to the moon

And the planets and such.

Now, Two is quite lovely

And Three is nice, too

But nothing beats Four

So Happy Birthday to you.’

Me: That’s perfect, Nell.

Nell: Just like Jonathan.

Me: Yes. And little Faye.

Nell: Just like them all.

Me: Yes. I miss them so much.

Nell: Today is about celebrating Jonathan Sky and the joy of being four. So no tears.

Me: Yes, it is. Sorry.

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Special Time

Me: My goodness that looks so beautiful, Nell.

Nell: Yes. Kev and I had one of our Special Times.

Me: Yes. I know you two do that now and again.

Nell: We do. It was particularly delightful because it was unexpected.

Me: I know what you mean.

Nell: He took me to hydrotherapy.

Me: Chloe says you are doing really well. I can see the difference in you.

Nell: Yes. I feel more comfortable in myself.

Me: I’m so glad.

Nell: After my therapy I was expecting to go home but instead he drove down to the river and we both paddled in the water.

Me: It is so lovely there.

Nell: Yes. We were able to spend some quiet, quality time together.

Me: Shooting the breeze.

Nell: Nobody shot anyone, thank you very much.

Me: It’s just a saying.

Nell: We’ve got quite enough on our plates with this gangster dinner.

Me: Did Malcolm catch any fish, by the way?

Nell: A few I think, but he always puts them back.

Me: Did you hear about the 8 foot tuna? It was on the local news. Some paddle boarders came across it when they were out paddling.

Nell: Yes. Her name is Tuppence. She’s over here on holiday.

Me: Tuppence? That’s an odd name for a tuna.

Nell: Why? What name do you think a tuna should have?

Me: I don’t know.

Nell: Well, then. Anyway, she was probably looking for Knitwear Wolf. She likes to join him when he’s out on his paddle board.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes, between us I think Princess is a little jealous. Anyway, where was I?

Me: You were talking about your Special Time alone with Kev.

Nell: Be happy that we were happy. You’re behaving like Princess.

Me: Yes. You’re right. Sorry.

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A ridiculous idea

Nell: What have you got to say for yourself?

Me: I don’t know what you mean.

Nell: You most certainly do.

Me: Are you talking about yesterday evening?

Nell: Of course, I am.

Me: It was lovely to see our friends Terry and Marian again, even at a social distance.

Nell: The noise.

Me: We were just chatting.

Nell: And what happened to eating healthily?

Me: Sometimes you just need a pizza, Nell. Nothing else will do.

Nell: We are used to a quiet life here.

Me: I can’t believe you said that. Do you realise the Whippets Institute minibus was here at 8am this morning?

Nell: You know they Glide with Gladys.

Me: I thought it was online.

Nell: Gladys is holding outside classes due to the unseasonably warm weather and Our Penguin is filming them for YouChewed.

Me: Did there have to be singing?

Nell: Alejandro is missing Ecuador.

Me: Were the llamas waltzing?

Nell: No, it was the pasillo. A popular Ecuadorian dance. Do keep up. Now, you may have noticed Malcolm is missing.

Me: I hadn’t, actually.

Nell: He’s gone fishing with Timothy.

Me: I never knew turkeys fished.

Nell: Well, some do. Anyway, Babycakes Gillespie is happy for Count Bingo and Gladys to join them for dinner. He said ‘Any friend of Malc’s is a friend of mine.’

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Did you know Gladys wants them to ride there on Alejandro?

Me: He has to be given some dinner too, then, Nell. You can’t expect him to gallop all the way to Plymouth and back without a good meal inside him.

Nell: Is that really the only thing that worries you about this ridiculous idea?

Me: I suppose you can’t make a quick getaway on an alpaca.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Sorry.

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Malcolm can’t go alone

Me: David completely tricked Harriet at Cheeky Animals. She had no idea.

Nell: Never mind that now.

Me: He whispered in her ear ‘Is that a Beefy?’ And when she looked up he stuck his tongue out. Really far out. She didn’t see a thing.

Nell: We have far more important things to deal with than Cheeky Animals.

Me: What?

Nell: Malcolm’s impending dinner with Babycakes Gillespie. The poor flamingo has worked himself into quite a state.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Benjamin Seagull was telling Timothy all about it over their morning pancakes.

Me: With lemon and sugar?

Nell: No. Fresh fruit, if you must know. Timothy is on a health kick at the moment. We’re approaching a worrying time for turkeys so he needs to keep alert. But that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: We discussed the issue at Morning Thoughts and the general consensus is that Malcolm should not go alone.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Poppy is the obvious choice as they know each other from Anger Management class.

Me: They only met on Monday.

Nell: It doesn’t matter anyway, as Poppy doesn’t want to go.

Me: Why?

Nell: She says she’s not playing second nibble to anyone.

Me: It’s second fiddle.

Nell: It is not. The favoured dog always gets the first nibble of the pie.

Me: But Malcolm’s not a dog.

Nell: Never mind. Fortunately Count Bingo Flamingo has agreed to accompany Malcolm along with Gladys who will perform a contemporary dance.

Me: Is Alejandro ok with that?

Nell: Alpacas aren’t like llamas you know. They’re not fussed about dancing.

Me: I meant will Alejandro mind Gladys going on a date with the Count?

Nell: It’s not a date. The Count is protecting Malcolm and Gladys is the distraction. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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After the class

Me: Why are you giving me that look?

Nell: I’m resting.

Me: Poppy says the Anger Management class was great fun.

Nell: Have you talked to Malcolm?

Me: No. He didn’t come down to breakfast this morning.

Nell: He’s probably completely exhausted.

Me: But I thought it went well. What happened?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf dropped them off at the venue and they went inside. Malcolm said he felt uneasy at once because it was full of angry animals.

Me: I wouldn’t like that either.

Nell: Poppy loved it. She told Malcolm the place had ‘a great vibe.’ Her words. She was really fired up.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: When the mediator came out Poppy recognised him immediately from her yoga class.

Me: Was he a Beefy?

Nell: No. Beefies don’t do yoga. It was AJ the gardening Afghan’s cousin, Peter.

Me: Peter the Afghan doesn’t sound right.

Nell: Well, that’s his name. He wears his hair in a pony tail and calls everyone ‘My friend.’

Me: How welcoming.

Nell: Malcolm liked him immediately.

Me: I bet he did.

Nell: Unfortunately nobody else did.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: He asked them all to introduce themselves so Poppy jumped on the table and shouted ‘I’m Poppy Martin. Anyone got a problem with that?’

Me: Had anyone?

Nell: No, they all cheered, so she said ‘I’m here because I whacked a Beefy and I’m not sorry.’

Me: She isn’t.

Nell: Everyone applauded, especially Babycakes Gillespie.

Me: Babycakes Gillespie?

Nell: Yes, the gangster pug from Plymouth. Wears pinstriped suits and smokes cigars.

Me: Are you winding me up?

Nell: Certainly not. Anyway, Babycakes took a shine to Malcolm. He’s invited him over to dinner.

Me: That’s kind.

Nell: Malcolm can’t have dinner with a gangster. He’s not that kind of flamingo.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Anger Management Day

Me: What on earth is Harriet doing out there? She looks terrifying.

Nell: She’s practising her war cry. Impressive, isn’t it?

Me: It’s Monday morning, Nell. Do we have to start the week like this?

Nell: Poppy is going to her Anger Management class today so we’re all helping her get in the zone.

Me: Is that why Malcolm is wearing a saucepan on his head?

Nell: No. That’s for protection from wild Beefies.

Me: Why is Poppy wearing her suit of armour?

Nell: Paw Warned is Paw Armed.

Me: She’s going to collapse in this heat.

Nell: You might have a point. Maybe The Cat has some chainmail lying around.

Me: What’s wrong with a tracksuit?

Nell: You’ll be suggesting trainers next.

Me: Better than those big boots.

Nell: Those are her fighting boots.

Me: It’s about Anger Management, Nell not fighting.

Nell: We know the Beefies are planning something.

Me: I hope not.

Nell: Everybody has had a fighting breakfast this morning so we are all well fuelled.

Me: What is a fighting breakfast? Muesli and fresh fruit?

Nell: Don’t be silly. Steak and eggs, of course, with a mug of Builder’s tea.

Me: Malcolm doesn’t eat steak.

Nell: His was tuna.

Me: How is Poppy getting there?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is going to take her on his motorbike. Malcolm will travel in the sidecar.

Me: She can’t wear two helmets, Nell. She’ll have to take the suit of armour one off.

Nell: Yes. This might need re-thinking.

Me: In fact, some might even say, the last thing you need after a huge breakfast is to be riding around on a motorbike in armour driven by a wolf in a knitted suit with a flamingo in the sidecar.

Nell: Well, they would be wrong.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sunday Reflections

Me: Is Dave outside on his lounger listening to Sunday Songs?

Nell: Yes. David is having a Reflective Day.

Me: Any particular reason why?

Nell: Sunday is a day for Reflection. You know that.

Me: Yes, I suppose it is. I wonder what he’s reflecting on, though.

Nell: Poppy’s Sunday roast I should imagine.

Me: I don’t blame him. I’m glad she’s still doing one.

Nell: Why wouldn’t she?

Me: Doesn’t her Anger Management course start tomorrow?

Nell: What’s that got to do with cooking a Sunday roast?

Me: I thought she and Malcolm might be busy preparing.

Nell: They’re busy preparing the vegetables, if that’s what you mean. Tony brought us some runner beans freshly picked from his garden.

Me: How lovely. No, I meant they might be practising being angry with each other.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes. First of all Sundays are not at all about anger and secondly it’s about managing your anger not getting yourself into a fury.

Me: Yes, but if you go there all meek and mild they’ll have nothing to work with.

Nell: I wouldn’t worry. Poppy wears a very short lead. She is easily riled.

Me: Don’t you mean she has a very short fuse?

Nell: No.

Me: She’s not really taking her sword, is she?

Nell: She wanted to, but all weapons have to be left at the door, so there’s no point.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: What is Gladys doing?

Me: It’s just a contemporary dance, Nell. Princess is loving it.

Nell: It’s not appropriate for Sunday Songs. Now the llamas have joined in.

Me: I love it when the Welsh corgi choir do that paws over the head thing.

Nell: It’s called waving. One of the llamas has cartwheeled into the pond.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Cheer up Tony

Nell: I’m glad to see you’ve joined in our Cheer up Tony campaign.

Me: I thought an ice cream might help.

Nell: David has told him that the Only Six People rule won’t be for ever and his Old Gaffers Shanty Crew will sing again.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And Tony said, as soon as it’s safe, David will be asked to join them.

Me: I’m not sure he can make all the rehearsals, Nell.

Nell: No. As a guest star.

Me: Oh, I see. That would be wonderful.

Nell: Yes. We need something to look forward to in these troubled times.

Me: I’ll tell you what gladdened my heart.

Nell: What?

Me: Talking to a nice man called Gary at your pet insurance.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I couldn’t access the portal.

Nell: I’m not even going to ask what a portal is.

Me: I couldn’t get online. Anyway, you know how you can wait for ages and have to press 1, then 4, then 1 again?

Nell: I get the idea.

Me: And some dreadful music keeps repeating and a voice says ‘You are 156th in the queue. We will answer your enquiry as soon as we can.’

Nell: I think you’ve done this before.

Me: Well, none of that happened.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I chose a number and there was Gary. Friendly and chatty and talking to me like a real person.

Nell: You are a real person.

Me: People don’t always take the time to listen.

Nell: That’s exactly what I said to my friend.

Me: Pamela, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog?

Nell: No. Marjorie, the Springer Spaniel.

Me: Oh.

Nell: I said ‘Marjorie, sometimes it’s like talking to a squirrel.’

Me: A squirrel?

Nell: Squirrels never listen. Everyone knows that.

Me: I didn’t. Sorry.

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Hide and Seek

Me: You walked so well yesterday.

Nell: Yes. Chloe is extremely pleased with my progress.

Me: I wonder why the cows were galloping across the field?

Nell: They were playing Hide and Seek. Cows adore that game.

Me: They did actually disappear at one point.

Nell: Exactly.

Me: They were behind the trees at the bottom of the valley, though. We knew they were there.

Nell: Could you see them?

Me: No.

Nell: You have to find them. It’s called Hide and Seek. Not Hide and Lazily Decide to Guess from a Distance.

Me: But Poppy and Harriet saw them.

Nell: Yes. Poppy and Harriet were playing the game properly. That’s why the cows galloped back up the hill.

Me: There aren’t a lot of places a herd of cows can hide, to be honest.

Nell: There are more than you think.

Me: Has Poppy come to a decision about the Anger Management course?

Nell: Yes. She’s going and she’s taking Malcolm with her.

Me: Malcolm? He’s the politest flamingo we know.

Nell: Yes. He is going to act as a buffer.

Me: Does he know? Is he even allowed to go?

Nell: The answer to both questions is yes.

Me: Malcolm won’t like it. What if everyone starts shouting?

Nell: It’s called Anger Management. Voices will be lowered not raised. He’s a good influence on Poppy and he’s used to her ways.

Me: I’m glad she didn’t ask me.

Nell: You would be dreadful. You know how fierce you get if someone criticises a loved one.

Me: Is Poppy going to be criticised then?

Nell: Her anger issues will doubtlessly be addressed.

Me: But it wasn’t her fault. It was those lying Beefies. They make me so angry.

Nell: And that’s why she didn’t ask you.

Me: Yes. Sorry.