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The Nellness of Nell

Nell: What is the matter with you?

Me: I’m a bit tired.

Nell: I know. You hardly slept.

Me: The publishers contacted me last night about a problem they are having and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Nell: What problem?

Me: It’s about you.

Nell: Me?

Me: Yes. How do we explain the ‘Youness of You’ to people who have never heard of you?

Nell: ‘The Youness of You’?

Me: Not me. You. ‘The Nellness of Nell’ and the world we live in.

Nell: You obviously need a cup of Earl Grey and a scone. You are not making any sense whatsoever.

Me: And then there’s that part where they say: ‘If you have enjoyed reading (insert book title) then you will definitely enjoy reading ‘Conversations with Nell’.’

Nell: Insert book title?

Me: Exactly. Which books are like ours? I just keep thinking of Maggie Smith in ‘Downton Abbey’ or Lady Bracknell from ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and her handbag.

Nell: You are rambling again. Where is my handbag? Gladys is going to have to start sleeping in a bed.

Me: The trouble is that you are unique. You all are.

Nell: I grant you that ours is not a conventional family. Poppy’s cooking skills are exceptional and as for David. Where do I begin?

Me: It’s not just about talking to a Labrador. It’s about talking to you.

Nell: I am extremely gratified that it is all about me, even when we both know it isn’t, but all I can say is that it will come to you. It always does.

Me: Not this time.

Nell: Maybe our friends will have a few ideas.

Me: I just want everyone to know how wonderful you are.

Nell: We both are. You and me. Always. Remember?

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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The Case of the Missing Flip Flop

Me: Why are you and Harriet sitting at the top of the stairs?

Nell: We are conducting an important investigation.

Me: Into what?

Nell: The Case of the Missing Flip Flop.

Me: Has someone taken one of Kev’s bathroom slippers again?

Nell: Yes. The remaining flip flop has been carefully placed on the landing chest of drawers for all to see.

Me: Yes. I can see it. Thank you.

Nell: Should the guilty party attempt to climb the stairs carrying the missing flip flop he will be apprehended by Harriet and myself.

Me: I’m guessing you have a suspect.

Nell: Correct.

Me: Might he be Big Brave and Beautiful?

Nell: Possibly. She might, however, be small and fluffy.

Me: Poppy is cooking breakfast with Malcolm.

Nell: Or elderly and deaf.

Me: Mutley is still asleep in his chair.

Nell: It might be large with hooves, although we think it is unlikely.

Me: Alpacas, moose and reindeer are not allowed upstairs.

Nell: Interesting. The culprit could perhaps be feathered.

Me: Malcolm is making pancakes and Timothy is laying the table with Ginger. I think Susan is up at The Nest.

Nell: I think the culprit is likely to be coming upstairs quite soon.

Me: What makes you say that?

Nell: Because Kev is about to start shouting ‘Have you taken my flip flops again?’

Me: So this is a common occurrence?

Nell: It is.

Me: I think it’s a case of a Mistake rather than a Theft.

Nell: You would.

Me: The animal I am thinking of takes footwear to give as a Present. It always brings it back.

Nell: But not always in the same condition.

Me: Shall I go and find Dave then?

Nell: Yes please and hurry because I can hear Kev starting to grumble.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Please do not Disturb

Me: Harriet just gave me one of her looks.

Nell: Were you taking photos of us asleep again?

Me: I couldn’t resist.

Nell: It’s Sunday. A day of rest. We were up early for Morning Songs and now we want some quiet.

Me: But Knitwear Wolf is here with the Sunday newspapers and he says ‘Robin Woof’ is a huge hit with the critics.

Nell: Well, I’m awake now so you might as well bring them in.

Me: Good.

Nell: Can you get my reading glasses back from David, please?

Me: I didn’t know he was having trouble with his eyes.

Nell: He isn’t. He saw a film with Cary Grant wearing spectacles and Sally said he looked dreamy.

Me: Here they are. Poppy has made shortbread to go with your Earl Grey.

Nell: The photos have come out well. They particularly capture the galloping of the large beasts across the sand with the sea behind them.

Me: And Henry and Horst hanging on for dear life. Or even deer life. See what I did there?

Nell: Good grief.

Me: Dave’s duet with Sally was wonderful and who organised those doves?

Nell: They weren’t doves. They were Beefies painted white.

Me: Really?

Nell: Didn’t you wonder about the shower of prawns?

Me: I thought it was unusual but then Dave casually threw them into the audience.

Nell: He is good at thinking on his paws.

Me: Knitwear Wolf was awfully convincing as a baddie.

Nell: Yes. People were terrified.

Me: When I saw him just now I almost ran away except he was wearing one of his cuddly sweaters and smiling so I knew it was him.

Nell: Of course it was him. It’s called acting. David isn’t really Robin Woof you know.

Me: He is in my eyes. Sorry.

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The Big Day

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He is so handsome in his feathered hat.

Nell: Yes, David certainly has style.

Me: But I thought Robin Woof wore green.

Nell: That’s David’s pre-show hat.

Me: Oh, I see. Do I have to wear more than one?

Nell: No, of course not. David has several hats. He is the star of the show and his fans expect it.

Me: Well, they certainly seem to be gathering. When I looked outside just now the garden was full.

Nell: Those are not fans they are the Merry Dogs. There seem to be hundreds of them and half of them aren’t even dogs.

Me: I wondered why those rabbits were wearing green. What about the other actors?

Nell: Knitwear Wolf is escorting Myfanwy and the Welsh corgi choir down to the beach. He is worried about a Beefy attack.

Me: Has there been any sign of them?

Nell: The usual mackerel and a few stale baguettes but nothing major. Now, most of the cast are getting a lift to the beach with the large beasts.

Me: I presume you mean Alejandro, Olive and Monty.

Nell: Yes. Now I thought the rest of us could walk down there together. Safety in numbers. David and Harriet will lead the way as Robin Woof and Will Scarlet.

Me: Can I start the singing?

Nell: I don’t see why not.

Me: ‘Robin Woof, Robin Woof in his feathered hat.

Robin Woof, Robin Woof and his friend The Cat.

Beefies are bad, Reindeer are good,

Robin Woof, Robin Woof, Robin Woof’

Nell: Stop. You can’t sing that.

Me: Why not?

Nell: Didn’t you read the Terms and Conditions?

Me: I didn’t know I had a contract.

Nell: Number one: Don’t bait a Beefy.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Caring

Me: Why is Poppy watching Harriet sleep?

Nell: It’s called Caring. I do that with you.

Me: Do you?

Nell: Yes, you know the puppies and I like to go up to bed with you every evening?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Well, it’s because we watch over you.

Me: I thought it was the electric blanket.

Nell: The electric blanket helps but it is mainly about Caring.

Me: Well, I am really touched.

Nell: Now, the forecast for tomorrow is cloud but no rain which means the pantomime can go ahead.

Me: Thank goodness for that.

Nell: Stephen Seagull and his band of Beefies may be planning an attack so we need to be on the alert.

Me: Do we have any security?

Nell: The Whippets Institute will be armed with stale scones and Poppy has her sword.

Me: Should I wear my all encasing hat?

Nell: Yes. We are advising hats to worn by everyone. Cast, crew and the audience.

Me: Where is Dave? I haven’t seen him all morning.

Nell: He’s down at the beach rehearsing with the noble steeds.

Me: Do we have horses?

Nell: No. Olive the Other Reindeer and Monty the Moose have volunteered. Henry and Horst are going to ride up front.

Me: Are you sure they should? It sounds ever so dangerous.

Nell: They will be wearing a full coat of armour.

Me: I didn’t know there was armour for woodlice.

Nell: The Cat made it from extra sturdy tin foil and a couple of thimbles.

Me: Are Fred and Ginger performing?

Nell: Timothy and the Canada Goose are involved.

Me: As Merry Dogs?

Nell: Certainly not. Ginger is doing a warm up with the audience before the show starts and Timothy will be selling ice creams in the interval.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Try and Be Realistic

Me: I thought you might like some photos of happy times on the beach.

Nell: I would like that honking to stop. I can’t concentrate on my book.

Me: Timothy is teaching the goose the ‘Robin Woof’ song and it’s making him laugh.

Nell: That’s good to hear as he hasn’t had a lot to laugh about in the last few months. Christmas is such a trying time for turkeys.

Me: I think the goose is rapping. It should really be called Drake.

Nell: It’s a goose not a duck and what on earth is it wrapping? Christmas is over.

Me: Never mind. It was a joke.

Nell: What is its name anyway?

Me:’Do you think you could say that again?’

Nell: Why would I want to do that?

Me: No. That’s its stage name. It does stand up comedy. It’s called ‘Do you think you could say that again?’

Nell: Stage name? Good grief. Couldn’t it just be a straightforward Canadian goose? Well, I’m certainly not calling it that. Does it have a real name?

Me: Yes. Ginger.

Nell: Ginger? That’s a dreadful name for a goose.

Me: I know but it made Timothy laugh.

Nell: At least the large beasts have moved back into the barn. We must be thankful for small mercies.

Me: Yes. Knitwear Wolf organised some warm blankets and Jim provided fresh straw.

Nell: I’m hoping the weather improves for the pantomime this weekend. We don’t want soggy feathers.

Me: Or fur.

Nell: Quite.

Me: I’ve just had a thought.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: Timothy should change his name to Fred and then he and Ginger would be the perfect couple.

Nell: What a ridiculous idea. Timothy doesn’t dance and Ginger is a stand up comic. Try and be realistic please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Hello 2020

Me: Welcome to 2020. Nell and I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Nell: Yes. Now could someone please remove all those large animals from the living room?

Me: Do you mean Dave? He’s just having a lie in after yesterday.

Nell: No. I mean the other three. One does not expect to be sharing the sofa with a moose, a reindeer and an alpaca.

Me: We couldn’t send them out to the barn after all that dancing. Their hooves were tired.

Nell: I seem to remember there was an awful lot of dancing last night.

Me: Yes. I thought the Robin Woof dance was inspired by the way. Did you see Henry and Horst?

Nell: Of course I did. Sitting on the top of Olive’s antlers in feathered caps and fairy lights. I was glad they didn’t fall off.

Me: Dave was keeping an eye. You know how protective he is of Henry.

Nell: Talking of protective, Knitwear Wolf looked after Myfanwy beautifully didn’t he?

Me: I know. Bringing her tender morsels to eat and wrapping her shawl around her.

Nell: Tender morsels? Good grief Jane Austen this is 2020.

Me: I’m ever so excited about this year. Did you see all the lovely messages?

Nell: Yes. People are most kind.

Me: I said to Kev if I had my way I’d get a Winnebago and travel the world with you all meeting everyone.

Nell: Even a Winnebago couldn’t accommodate our menagerie.

Me: True. We have to stop collecting animals.

Nell: That’s never going to happen. You might as well let that goose in.

Me: What goose?

Nell: One of the Canadians. It lost its friends during the fly over so I said it could stay until we find them.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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2020 is going to be our year

Me: It’s the end of a decade.

Nell: I am aware.

Me: And the dawning of a new one.

Nell: Are you in one of your philosophical moods again because I’ll need a cup of Earl Grey and some shortbread if you are?

Me: I’m just ruminating on times gone by.

Nell: Well, don’t ruminate too long, please. Some of us have things to do.

Me: It’s been a rather life changing decade.

Nell: Yes, it has. I was born for a start.

Me: You all were.

Nell: Not Mutley.

Me: No. But Jonathan Sky and Faye Raine.

Nell: Yes. Such happy times.

Me: We lost my mother and little Monty.

Nell: We did.

Me: But the smiles outweighed the tears.

Nell: They did.

Me: Alice got married and so did Charlotte. We moved to Devon.

Nell: Are we going to have a long list now, only I think you should definitely put the kettle on?

Me: I think 2020 might just be our year.

Nell: I am inclined to agree.

Me: The book comes out on 28th April.

Nell: It’s extremely exciting.

Me: And a little terrifying. I hope people like it.

Nell: Do stop. Just look at the title.

Me: ‘Conversations with Nell.’

Nell: Exactly.

Me: Do you know what I’m looking forward to most?

Nell: Seeing the book in print?

Me: Yes, and actually meeting some of our readers at the book signings.

Nell: Yes. Now could you ask The Cat to come and see me about tonight’s party, please?

Me: Why The Cat?

Nell: David and his Merry Dogs are performing ‘Robin Woof’ and there’s a problem with Henry and Horst’s hats.

Me: Too many sequins?

Nell: No. More feathers. They are being eclipsed by the larger animals and we can’t have that.

Me: No. Sorry.

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Reunited

Me: Look at those two.

Nell: Reunited after the Christmas break.

Me: They love each other.

Nell: Apparently Young Ollie stole some chocolate coins from the Christmas tree and was sick.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: I think David told Tony about the cream. They were definitely discussing Accidental Naughtiness.

Me: Accidental Naughtiness?

Nell: Yes. It can happen to anyone.

Me: But that’s not what happened to you yesterday is it?

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: When we went to the hotel for lunch with my sisters.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: And you went missing during lunch.

Nell: I did not go missing.

Me: You left your seat next to me and you left the dining room.

Nell: Yes, I did.

Me: We called you and searched for you.

Nell: You made an unnecessary fuss.

Me: I finally found you in the hotel lounge on the sofa in front of the fire.

Nell: I needed some quiet.

Me: The manager explained to you that dogs were not allowed on sofas.

Nell: A ridiculous notion.

Me: She asked you politely to get off and you refused.

Nell: There was plenty of room. Nobody else minded.

Me: You pretended you couldn’t hear her. I know what you’re like when you don’t want to do something. You have Selective Hearing.

Nell: The article on Knitwear Wolf in The Growl on Sunday was most complimentary, wasn’t it?

Me: You are doing it again.

Nell: It should definitely boost his sales.

Me: You can hear me perfectly well.

Nell: It mentioned Myfanwy too.

Me: I don’t think he was very happy about that.

Nell: No. He likes to keep his private life private.

Me: So you can hear me now then?

Nell: Of course. We are having a conversation.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Discrepancies

Me: You look extremely thoughtful.

Nell: Sunday is my day for reflection.

Me: Yes, I know you like your quiet time.

Nell: Can you let me know when the Sunday papers arrive, please?

Me: Yes, I just wanted a quick word.

Nell: I am hoping The Growl on Sunday give Knitwear Wolf a good review.

Me: I don’t like to disturb you but if you have a spare moment in between all your reflecting Poppy needs you in the kitchen.

Nell: Good grief. Can’t it wait?

Me: Well, Caroline is here and there appear to be a few discrepancies in our milk bill that need explaining.

Nell: Discrepancies?

Me: Extra cream for The Guest Barn for instance.

Nell: What Guest Barn?

Me: The one for our larger guests.

Nell: You mean Jim’s Barn where Alejandro, Monty and Olive are staying?

Me: Yes. I think Dave visits them now and again.

Nell: Clotted cream or double cream?

Me: Both.

Nell: And David is a regular visitor?

Me: Well, Dave is on the borderline to being a large animal to be fair.

Nell: That is not the point.

Me: He only visits now and again. Usually in the morning.

Nell: We all know that David is partial to cream on his morning cereal.

Me: I don’t think you should jump to conclusions, Nell. Anyway, Dave has been having bacon sandwiches for breakfast.

Nell: David is always open to second breakfasts.

Me: True, but we still don’t know.

Nell: No. I will talk to Poppy and Caroline first.

Me: It’s best to keep an open mind, Nell. My Big Brave Beautiful Boy might be innocent.

Nell: It’s possible. Wait. Did David just walk past with a bowl of Weetabix?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was there cream on his mouth?

Me: I’m afraid so. Sorry.