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Bit soggy

Nell: Poppy has gone back to bed.

Me: I don’t blame her. Look at the weather.

Nell: It’s Malcolm’s fault.

Me: But Malcolm is the politest flamingo I know. He wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

Nell: Why on earth would be want to do that?

Me: It’s just a saying.

Nell: Did you hear those Canadians yesterday?

Me: Are you talking about the Canada Geese?

Nell: I know they’ve flown in from Canada but do they have to shout about it?

Me: I always enjoy watching them fly over. Anyway, what did Malcolm do?

Nell: He said Poppy’s croissants were a little blonde.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And they could do with a few more minutes in the oven.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: So she threw them in the garden.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: And a flock of Beefies in knitted scarves stole them.

Me: Well, it wasn’t really stealing if she had thrown them out.

Nell: And as they flew away they shouted: ‘Bit soggy.’

Me: Oh dear. But it is raining so they would be.

Nell: No. They were referring to the baking. And Malcolm says they had a point.

Me: It’s not like Poppy to bake a soggy croissant.

Nell: Quite. Something is bothering her. I think it’s about Kevin.

Me: But he’s doing well and the doctors will sort him out.

Nell: No. Kevin the dancer from Strictly. He was eliminated yesterday.

Me: I didn’t know Poppy was interested in dancing.

Nell: She isn’t anymore. She’s hung up her dancing shoes.

Me: I didn’t know she had dancing shoes.

Nell: I was speaking figuratively.

Me: I thought she didn’t have dancing shoes.

Nell: Of course she has dancing shoes. We all do. They’re next to our wellington boots. Haven’t you noticed them?

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Sunday Singing

Me: Sundays are for snuggling, aren’t they?

Nell: Yes. David comes into his own at this time of year. He is an excellent Snuggler.

Me: Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: How do you feel about cashmere?

Me: It reminds me of my mother.

Nell: The Cat is keen to branch out but Rupert has reservations.

Me: Why?

Nell: He’s not sure about the goats.

Me: I don’t think we need goats, Nell. We’ve got sheep, alpacas and corgis.

Nell: Corgis?

Me: Yes. They are outside again.

Nell: They will be. It’s Sunday Singing.

Me: Hymns?

Nell: Possibly. I think ‘Morning has Broken’ is in the programme.

Me: There are programmes?

Nell: Of course. You can’t be expected to join in Sunday Singing if you don’t have the words.

Me: I didn’t know I was.

Nell: Life just passes you by, doesn’t it? We’ve been Sunday Singing for years.

Me: You have?

Nell: David and Harriet are key soloists.

Me: They are?

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog has a beautiful voice.

Me: Not when he’s shouting at the sheep.

Nell: Of course not. You can’t use a beautiful voice with sheep. They won’t listen.

Me: Apart from Bert.

Nell: Yes. Bert is an exception. Why do you think Jim wears a tie on a Sunday?

Me: Fashion statement?

Nell: Respect. Sunday Singing is important.

Me: Is that why Gladys is wearing a hat?

Nell: We are all wearing hats.

Me: So you are. I never noticed.

Nell: Yes. You never do. That’s why Kev calls you Sherlock Martin. Floating around in your bubble.

Me: Talking of Kev he has asked me to thank everyone for their kind messages of support. They really mean a lot to him.

Nell: They mean a great deal to us all.

Me: Yes, they do. Sorry.

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Planning ahead

Nell: David is overwhelming Tony again.

Me: He just needs cuddles.

Nell: He’s been crying on Tony’s shoulder.

Me: About Kev?

Nell: Mainly about bacon, to be honest.

Me: Poppy says there will be bacon sandwiches for him later.

Nell: Anyway, I want to talk to you about Tuesday.

Me: Alice and the children are arriving. I can’t wait.

Nell: Yes, and you are staying in London that night.

Me: I know.

Nell: And you will worry about Kev.

Me: Probably.

Nell: Well, there is no need as I have everything under control.

Me: You do?

Nell: Yes. As you know, I was matron at a top hospital so I have the medical training. Poppy will be preparing light, nutritional meals and David knows not to complain.

Me: Good luck with that.

Nell: Harriet has chosen Kev’s favourite book and will read to him.

Me: Which one?

Nell: ‘The Wind in the Willows’ of course. David adores Toad.

Me: I love him too.

Nell: You would. The Welsh corgi choir are on hand with a selection of songs. Now, do we need the Whippets Institute?

Me: I think not.

Nell: Gladys will perform a soothing contemporary dance.

Me: Kev’s actually supposed to be relaxing.

Nell: Don’t worry it’s all going to be in the best possible taste and very low key.

Me: Good.

Nell: I told Gladys we don’t need the drums or the trampoline.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is bringing a beautifully soft knitted cardigan in blue. Kev’s colour.

Me: How kind.

Nell: He is hoping Kev won’t mind the sequins.

Me: What sequins?

Nell: Unfortunately The Cat got involved before Rupert could stop it so now it says ‘Kev’ on the back.

Me: You’ve thought of everything.

Nell: Of course. It’s Kev.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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David makes another mistake

Nell: I’m afraid David doesn’t like heart healthy food. He ate a pork pie by mistake.

Me: It’s only been a day.

Nell: I think it’s the lack of bacon.

Me: Where did he find the pork pie?

Nell: The Farm dogs.

Me: Never mind. Why is everyone wearing socks?

Nell: We are being Considerate.

Me: How kind.

Nell: And our feet were cold.

Me: Sensible.

Nell: And Knitwear Wolf had a new delivery of socks which were far too big for birds.

Me: Birds?

Nell: Yes. The Beefies have placed an order for socks as well as hats and scarves.

Me: You are going to laugh but I thought I heard gentle singing outside our window this morning.

Nell: That’ll be the Welsh Corgi choir. They always sing when they knit.

Me: Not usually outside our window.

Nell: No. But when Myfanwy heard about Kev they relocated the Knitting Circle to here. They thought he might like ‘a bit of Tom Jones’. I quote.

Me: He said he heard ‘Delilah’ but I thought he was joking.

Nell: I don’t think Delilah was there. She’s gone to Cardiff to visit her aunt.

Me: No, I meant the song. Isn’t it cold out there?

Nell: No. They have deckchairs and blankets and Poppy is providing flasks of tea and scones.

Me: What if it rains?

Nell: The Cat has offered the Big House.

Me: I’ve just had a thought.

Nell: Here we go.

Me: I think the Welsh Corgi choir are Knitwear Wolf’s knitters.

Nell: Of course they’re Rupert’s knitters. Everyone knows that.

Me: I hope your socks aren’t bugged, Nell. We don’t want the Beefies finding out about the Corgis.

Nell: Firstly, socks are not being bugged and secondly, we are doing the bugging. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Still here

Nell: Yesterday was not a good day.

Me: No, it wasn’t.

Nell: But you and Kev are home now and Kev is ok.

Me: Yes. Thank Goodness.

Nell: Shall I explain to everyone why today’s conversation is a little different?

Me: Yes, please.

Nell: You were on a Writers Workshop in the countryside yesterday with no mobile signal, or internet.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So you didn’t know Kev had been rushed into hospital until you were on your way home.

Me: No, I didn’t.

Nell: And you didn’t have a front door key.

Me: No.

Nell: And we were all inside the house.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So you got someone to break a window to release us.

Me: Yes. I did.

Nell: And there was glass everywhere.

Me: Yes.

Nell: You cleared it up and we all waited for our tea patiently.

Me: Fairly patiently.

Nell: And then you drove to the hospital. I wanted to go with you. We all did. But we knew we had to wait.

Me: Yes.

Nell: They did lots of tests to make sure it wasn’t a heart attack.

Me: Yes, they did.

Nell: And it wasn’t but he needs to be careful.

Me: Yes, he does.

Nell: You didn’t get the all clear until 1:20am so you didn’t get home until 2:15am.

Me: That’s right.

Nell: So Kev is sleeping now and I told you we would just let people know. That they would understand.

Me: Yes, I don’t think I’m up to writing much today.

Nell: It’s fine. We are here. Poppy is busy putting together a list of heart healthy recipes and David has agreed to test them.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So no more tears. He is home and he’s ok and we love you. Both.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Bug Watching

Me: Where’s Harriet?

Nell: On Bug Watch in the back garden.

Me: Why?

Nell: There have been a couple of unfortunate incidents. Not everyone gets on as well with each other as they should.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: There have also been a few Beefy sightings and Alejandro was woken by a wet fish in his hammock. Susan and Malcolm had it for breakfast.

Me: Can you explain the Whispering to me again?

Nell: Yes. Our bugs are going to influence the Beefies’ decisions by whispering to them.

Me: A bug’s whisper is going to be awfully quiet.

Nell: They are learning to whisper loudly. David has been a great help. He is used to talking to Mutley.

Me: Yes.

Nell: They will be like their little consciences.

Me: Do Beefies even have consciences?

Nell: Gull says they do.

Me: Is Gull in the team?

Nell: Gull is out there in the thick of it all. He, Henry and Horst are working closely together.

Me: Won’t the bugs get tired?

Nell: They’re working shifts. Bugs can be replaced in the knitted hats, or scarves so they can leave when they have enough information. Messages will be relayed by P Mail.

Me: P Mail? Don’t you mean email?

Nell: Certainly not. Walter Pigeon and the Beaky Blinders are on board. They don’t like the Beefies either.

Me: How does P Mail work?

Nell: Pigeons will collect and distribute bugs from various collection points.

Me: Have you considered some may get lost in the field?

Nell: Yes. The risk is high but our noble bugs are prepared.

Me: I don’t think the ones in the socks are going to hear anything and as for whispering…

Nell: Socks aren’t going to be bugged. Try and show a little common sense.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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It’s all about Whispering

Nell: I know the plan. Can you be trusted not to talk?

Me: Of course I can. What is Dave doing to Poppy?

Nell: Practising his technique. It’s all about Whispering.

Me: Whispering?

Nell: Yes. David obviously isn’t going to be on the Whispering Team but he is getting into the spirit of it all.

Me: Whispering Team?

Nell: Now, Henry and Horst will be running Whispering Workshops from here in conjunction with Lesley the Lizard.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: So don’t be alarmed if a large number of insects come and go.

Me: Not spiders?

Nell: Yes, but probably not the big hairy ones.

Me: Not lizards?

Nell: Small ones, perhaps.

Me: Why?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is going into business with the Beefies.

Me: That’s a dreadful idea.

Nell: He proved his badness by secretly shearing Bert the Sheep and stealing his wool and now the Beefies are keen to work with him.

Me: Doing what?

Nell: Supplying their troops with knitted hats and scarves, of course. Do keep up.

Me: So the Beefies and The horrible Black Claw will be wearing Knitwear Wolf and The Cat’s autumn collection?

Nell: Not all of it. Cardigans and jumpsuits aren’t really the thing for birds, but a warm cloak perhaps and socks.

Me: So the plan to defeat them is by keeping them warm?

Nell: No. What they don’t know is everything will be bugged.

Me: Bugged? With listening devices?

Nell: Yes. Live ones. Small insects will hide in them.

Me: How disgusting.

Nell: The exciting thing about our plan is that our bugs work both ways.

Me: Now, I’m confused.

Nell: They don’t only listen. They whisper.

Me: Ah, they whisper. How clever.

Nell: You have no idea what’s going on, do you?

Me: No. I haven’t a clue. Sorry.

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Look what I found

Me: Look what I found. An old photo of the puppies.

Nell: That was taken just before we moved to Devon in October 2017.

Me: Yes. They were four months old and quite unaware that they were about to go on a big adventure. Look at their adorable little faces. Bless them.

Nell: David adores his sister.

Me: Yes, I know. He’s such a loving Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Now, concerns were voiced at Morning Thoughts.

Me: What about?

Nell: The badness is spreading. The Helpline is flooded with calls.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: David has had to take on an assistant.

Me: Not Gladys?

Nell: No. Naughty Nigel has volunteered his services. He knows what it’s like to be almost bad and he is handsome and willing.

Me: But he lives hundreds of miles away.

Nell: That doesn’t matter. It’s all down to technology and the iBone and PawPad nowadays. How do you think I communicate with Little Marvin in Toronto?

Me: I didn’t know you did.

Nell: Of course. We FaceTime regularly on WoofsApp. Chris and Shannon decided that I would be an excellent Dogmother. Rhu is one too but she could do with some help.

Me: How is Little Marvin?

Nell: Struggling with Compulsive Biting which he will soon grow out of but doing a lot better on the health front.

Me: Good. Little Ollie is showing signs of naughtiness you know. He stole Sue’s wool when she was knitting.

Nell: Talking of wool. Have you seen Knitwear Wolf? I know he has a meeting with Sally today and I wondered if you had any information.

Me: Yes. He was wearing a forest green jumpsuit with brown sturdy boots. Rather dashing.

Nell: I don’t care what he’s wearing. I want to know what’s happening.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Sunday visitors

Nell: Why is there a lizard in the kitchen eating porridge?

Me: Dave said it didn’t want any bacon.

Nell: What is it doing here? It’s Sunday morning and we were not expecting visitors.

Me: I think it’s come to see Henry and Horst.

Nell: Or eat Henry and Horst. Lizards are like that you know. They can’t help themselves.

Me: No. Lesley is a nice lizard.

Nell: Lesley ?

Me: Yes. It has a lisp which is rather endearing.

Nell: Snakes lisp. How do we know it’s to be trusted?

Me: It’s wearing a bandana.

Nell: I see. Well, tell it not to be noisy as Mutley is sleeping.

Me: I can’t help but notice that someone has chewed the sofa cushion again.

Nell: Yes. We are looking into it.

Me: I hope so.

Nell: We suspect it is an old transgression that went unnoticed, or someone bounced on the cushion and burst it open.

Me: It can’t keep happening.

Nell: The matter is being dealt with and reparation will be made.

Me: I hope none of you are turning bad.

Nell: No. Biting a Cushion and Excessive Bouncing fall under Naughty not Bad.

Me: I see.

Nell: Biting a person, or other animal, and meaning it, is definitely Bad, however. Puppies are excluded. Is that lizard part of the surveillance team?

Me: If it is I’m hoping outside surveillance.

Nell: Yes. I draw the line at stumbling across a lizard in my own home. I’m still getting used to alpacas.

Me: Do we know what the plan is?

Nell: Sally will tell us when she’s ready. ‘Patience is a virtue so just sit down and chew, Often found in dogs but never found in you.’

Me: Did you say chew?

Nell: That is not the point.

Me: No. Sorry.

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The answer is obvious

Me: What are you two looking for?

Nell: Even while swimming one must stay alert. The Black Claw could be anywhere.

Me: I don’t like the sound of that.

Nell: Reports have come in from trusted friends of animals behaving badly.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: A certain Flossy Mae from Georgia in the US tipped over the rubbish bin and she would never have done that under normal circumstances.

Me: How shocking.

Nell: Yes. She doesn’t know what came over her.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: Fortunately she called our Helpline and spoke to our Chief Advisor who was able to help.

Me: We have a Helpline?

Nell: Of course. Animals need to be able to turn to us for advice when they feel the badness coming on.

Me: Who is the Chief Advisor? Mutley?

Nell: Mutley can’t hear. There is no point in phoning him.

Me: It can’t be Alejandro as his English isn’t that good. Gladys doesn’t do advice and Harriet’s busy being a spy.

Nell: The answer is obvious.

Me: It is?

Nell: Yes. It’s David. He knows all about making mistakes, he has a heart of gold and winning ways.

Me: And a lovely telephone voice.

Nell: Yes. Just what is needed.

Me: Do you know I wondered why he was walking around with headphones talking to himself.

Nell: He’s been taking calls all morning. Poppy had to make him several bacon sandwiches as his energy levels were low.

Me: They would be. I’m so glad he isn’t Left Out anymore.

Nell: Yes. He is safely involved.

Me: So what happens next? I heard Sally is on her way from London.

Nell: Yes. She is meeting with the surveillance team on the ground.

Me: Gladys and Alejandro?

Nell: No. Henry and Horst. Do keep up.

Me: Yes. Sorry.