Harriet Has Had Enough

Me: What was all that barking about?

Nell: I’m afraid Harriet lost her temper. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it really does.

Me: Was it one of the Beefies? I noticed them circling the house earlier.

Nell: No. It was David.

Me: Dave? Our Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Gentle loving Dave?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Chief Cuddling Officer?

Nell: Yes, and the Mayor of Kingsbridge.

Me: Except he isn’t.

Nell: It’s hard to accept that someone could shout at such an important animal but Harriet did.

Me: That’s not like Harriet at all.

Nell: Little brothers can annoy. We’ve all been there.

Me: I don’t think anyone has ever called Dave ‘little’.

Nell: David is her younger brother. Harriet was born first even though she’s half his size.

Me: Even less then. It’s easy to forget how tiny she was.

Nell: I remember it well.

Me: So, what annoyed her?

Nell: It started with a tug of war over David’s colourful plastic ring.

Me: He loves chewing on that thing.

Nell: Well, Harriet wanted it.

Me: It belongs to Dave but he’s usually fine about sharing.

Nell: Not today.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Harriet told him he was ‘a great big selfish lump’. I quote.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And even worse ‘a very bad dog.’

Me: He hates that.

Nell: We all do.

Me: What did Dave say?

Nell: ‘Take the stupid toy then. See if I care.’

Me: And did she?

Nell: No, by that time she wasn’t really interested in it anymore.

Me: Are they still at loggerheads?

Nell: No. Harriet said ‘Fancy a bacon sandwich?’ and Dave replied, ‘Don’t mind if I do.’

Me: Thank goodness for bacon.

Nell: And love. Love always wins in the end.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Fun in the Sun

Me: My pocketful of happiness is watching you dogs enjoying yourselves in the activity field.

Nell: Yes. It was lovely to be out in the sunshine. Although I decided to take it slowly as it was quite warm.

Me: So did I. It was good to see Dave back to his old self again.

Nell: Yes. Poppy made him a nourishing lunch.

Me: Salad, or soup?

Nell: Don’t be silly. A steak sandwich. Crusts on.

Me: Well, it worked. He’s in fine form.

Nell: He was talking to his Deputy Mayors and they agreed to take on a few of his engagements this weekend.

Me: Wait a minute. Did you just say Deputy Mayors?

Nell: I did.

Me: There’s no such thing.

Nell: I think Henry and Horst would beg to disagree.

Me: What have Henry and Horst got to do with it?

Nell: They’re the Deputy Mayors. Do keep up.

Me: Seriously?

Nell: Haven’t you noticed their mayoral chains?

Me: They’re woodlice, Nell. I can hardly see them, let alone what they’re wearing.

Nell: Well look harder.

Me: You know Dave isn’t actually the Mayor of Kingsbridge.

Nell: Monday is a Bank Holiday, so this weekend is going to be particularly busy with countless mayoral appearances and David is particularly grateful for their help.

Me: I give up.

Nell: Everyone loves Henry and Horst. They’re so funny.

Me: Nobody can hear them.

Nell: It’s going to be a busy and fun-filled weekend.

Me: You sound like a campaign manager.

Nell: No need for that. David is going to be in office for quite a while. The latest opinion polls put him far ahead of his rival.

Me: What rival?

Nell: Stephen Seagull. You didn’t think the Beefies were just going to let this happen, did you?

Me: No. Sorry.


David Skips Breakfast and Poppy Skips Training

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: Dave didn’t eat his breakfast. Poppy was so shocked she decided not to go to boxing training and is downstairs now in the living room watching over him.

Me: I didn’t know Poppy was a Boxer. I thought she was a Maltese/Yorkie cross. See what I did there?

Nell: Superflyweight Devon champion three years in a row. Do keep up.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: But we were discussing David.

Me: Yes. I can’t believe he didn’t have any breakfast.

Nell: The poor animal is completely exhausted.

Me: It was the Book Club yesterday. You shouldn’t have made him read.

Nell: Nonsense. David loves talking about food.

Me: But all those questions. I mean, how much bacon goes in a sandwich depends on how hungry you are as well as the kind of bread you choose.

Nell: Enough about bacon. David is simply wearing too many hats at the moment.

Me: I think a top hat suits him and a wide brimmed hat is wise in the sun.

Nell: I’m talking figuratively not literally. David has too many responsibilities.

Me: Does he?

Nell: Yes. Bestselling author, CCO…

Me: Don’t you mean CEO?

Nell: No. Chief Cuddling Officer. Not to mention training as a sous chef and last, but definitely not least, being the Mayor of Kingsbridge.

Me: Except he isn’t actually the mayor.

Nell: It’s no wonder the poor animal is burnt out.

Me: That’s a little dramatic. He’s probably just tired. He’ll be fine after a sleep.

Nell: How do you feel about the Stuffed Tiger?

Me: I beg your pardon?

Nell: Beaumarchais. Could you cuddle him instead of David?

Me: It wouldn’t be the same.

Nell: I know but you’d be doing it for David.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Meals I Ate By Mistake

Nell: Why are you up and writing? You’re supposed to be resting.

Me: It’s my Wednesday Writers workshop later.

Nell: You can’t sit at a computer all morning.

Me: I’m just going to do what I can. I’ll probably have to dip in and out.

Nell: You have to walk around every 30 minutes.

Me: I know. Stop fussing.

Nell: It’s not fussing, it’s caring. You’re not well.

Me: Dave seems really cheerful this morning. I heard him singing. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Initial feedback from our Book Club about David’s book has been extremely positive.

Me: Good.

Nell: The only criticism was of the cover. The Cat isn’t sure about David’s choice of hat. Too plain.

Me: I didn’t know The Cat read books.

Nell: It likes to dip its paw into all kinds of things.

Me: And I thought Book Club wasn’t happening until this afternoon.

Nell: It isn’t. We have a WoofsApp group where we can post suggestions for discussion.

Me: Can I join the WoofsApp group?

Nell: Let’s see how today goes first, shall we?

Me: Why?

Nell: You’re going to be extremely tired after your workshop.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: I’m not sure you’re going to manage Book Club.

Me: Why?

Nell: I need everyone to focus and you tend to let your mind wander at the best of times.

Me: I can be extremely focussed when I want to be. Maybe not quite as focussed as you when there’s food around, but still.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Just saying.

Nell: This is why I hesitated to invite you. Worse than Pamela . At least she understands the importance of showing appreciation for your food.

Me: You should invite her to Book Club then.

Nell: I have.

Me: Oh. Sorry.


Coming Home

Me: Do you know what my pocketful of happiness was yesterday?

Nell: Having a shower?

Me: That was high on the list but no. It was the sound of the front gate and seeing Kev and Poppy and then you all running towards me.

Nell: Poppy shouldn’t have jumped on your lap.

Me: I loved it. There’s nothing like welcoming you home.

Nell: There’s nothing like coming home and seeing you sitting in the garden again.

Me: Thank you. I felt more myself than in a long time.

Nell: Talking of showers, when are they fixing yours? Climbing into the bath is not the best thing for you at the moment.

Me: I know. Michael the Plumber visited us yesterday but we have to sort things out with the insurance first as the leak has done a lot of damage.

Nell: It’s one thing after another at the moment.

Me: It seems to be.

Nell: I’ve managed to reschedule Book Club to tomorrow and have decided to include you.

Me: How kind.

Nell: I thought we could have it under your gazebo so you’ll probably be there anyway.

Me: I think Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog should be given the chance to join too. A careless remark about your weight can’t be held against her for ever.

Nell: ‘One scone too many?’ is not something one should ever say to another animal.

Me: I know but she did add ‘I’m guilty of that myself.’

Nell: Which is true. In fact I don’t think there’s room for a Mountain Dog under your gazebo.

Me: Dave fits.

Nell: David is a pedigree Labrador.

Me: He’s also the size of a small pony. Give Pamela a chance.

Nell: I’ll think about it.

Me: You could even share a scone.

Nell: Enough.

Me: Sorry.


Favouritism is Frowned Upon

Me: Harriet seems a little tired this morning.

Nell: She’s on night duty. The hours can get to you after a while.

Me: You do know she sleeps too, don’t you? She’s not watching me all the time.

Nell: I think you’ll find she is. Harriet is very good at looking as if she’s asleep. It’s one of the skills we Labradors develop from quite an early age.

Me: She was snoring.

Nell: Clever little thing.

Me: And taking up most of the bed.

Nell: She’s been told to monitor you closely.

Me: Jim the Farm Dog has been out in the fields with the sheep since first thing.

Nell: He works hard.

Me: I think Harriet would rather be walking the fields with Jim than lying here with me.

Nell: We all have to make sacrifices. I had to cancel Book Club.

Me: Why?

Nell: I can’t be expected to discuss books with an invalid in the house.

Me: I’m not an invalid. I’ve just hurt my back. And I love talking about books.

Nell: You’re not invited.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Book Club isn’t open to everyone, you know. It’s very difficult to be accepted. Pamela has been trying for years.

Me: Pamela the Pyrenean Mountain Dog who commented on your weight at the vets?

Nell: Yes.

Me: I can see why she might not be on the list but you could make an exception for me.

Nell: Favouritism is frowned upon.

Me: What book were you supposed to be discussing?

Nell: ‘Meals I Ate By Mistake’ by David Martin.

Me: Our Dave? My Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Yes.

Me: If that’s not Favouritism then I don’t know what is.

Nell: It’s a bestseller and was chosen by a majority vote.

Me: I see. Sorry.


I Love Sundays

Me: How long have you been watching me sleeping?

Nell: A little while. It’s no bother.

Me: You don’t have to do that.

Nell: Yes, I do. I’m on early mornings.

Me: What does that mean?

Nell: We have a rota. Do keep up.

Me: I hope you didn’t miss breakfast.

Nell: Miss breakfast? On a Sunday? Don’t be ridiculous.

Me: Good.

Nell: I had some pancakes earlier with Harriet when she came off the night shift and both you and I will join David for bacon sandwiches at second breakfast.

Me: Second breakfast?

Nell: Haven’t you ever heard of Sunday Seconds? And I’m not just referring to breakfasts here.

Me: Are we talking about Yorkshire puddings?

Nell: Definitely.

Me: Scones?

Nell: Of course.

Me: Cuddles?

Nell: Always.

Me: I love Sundays.

Nell: Those llamas are going to be sick cartwheeling around after all the pancakes they’ve eaten.

Me: They can’t help it. They’re like Gladys. They express themselves through dance.

Nell: Get up and come to the window. The Welsh corgi choir are about to start singing and you need to keep moving every half an hour.

Me: I love my view so much. I can’t imagine life without it.

Nell: Then don’t.

Me: Are the Whippets Institute joining us today? I can’t see their minibus.

Nell: They’re stuck behind a tractor so they’re running a little late.

Me: Is that your friend Dorothy getting out of Naughty Nigel’s sports car?

Nell: Is she wearing a large brimmed hat and sunglasses?

Me: Yes. They both look like film stars.

Nell: I said to her ‘Dorothy, this is Devon not the South of France. There is no need for all this glamour.’

Me: The Cat would disagree.

Nell: I know. Who do you think chose her outfit?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Back to Square One

Nell: I need a serious word with you right now. No arguments.

Me: Let me tell you about my pocketful of happiness first.

Nell: Fine, but I’m not going to let this go.

Me: I was sitting in the activity field with you yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine wearing my hat and watching the puppies and Poppy playing.

Nell: It was good to be out.

Me: And then you ambled over to get them and I called you and you all came running towards me.

Nell: Less of the ambled please, I like to take my time in the field which is something you should be doing too.

Me: And as I watched you I realised how lucky I am to have you all in my life. You are such a joy.

Nell: And then things went very wrong.

Me: Don’t scold me.

Nell: Because when we got home you decided you were going to cook.

Me: I know.

Nell: And you began emptying the dishwasher.

Me: I did.

Nell: Which was a foolish thing to do on so many levels.

Me: I know.

Nell: It’s not your job. You’re not even a member of the washing up team. Manuel is in charge of that.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And your back started to spasm again.

Me: It did. Very badly.

Nell: And we were back to square one.

Me: Yes. It was awful.

Nell: Kev was annoyed with you.

Me: Yes, he was.

Nell: We all were. Even David.

Me: Dave still sat with me later. You all did.

Nell: You are doing nothing today.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And I mean nothing. Apart from the occasional walking around. No carrying, or bending, or lifting.

Me: I promise.

Nell: When you’re in pain we’re in pain. Understood?

Me: Yes. Sorry.


What a Day!

Nell: What’s David doing in your bed and why aren’t you in it?

Me: He’s just keeping it warm for me. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. I’m calling him Doctor David.

Nell: How are you feeling?

Me: Much better. Yesterday was quite a day.

Nell: You can say that again. There we were quietly enjoying our elevenses when you start wailing.

Me: I was in dreadful pain, Nell. I really was. I thought I was going to faint.

Nell: I know.

Me: I must have pulled a muscle in my back and it went all down into my leg. It was excruciating.

Nell: We’d finally managed to get you settled when the next thing we knew two impossibly handsome young men were making their way upstairs to your bedroom.

Me: They were doctors, Nell. But yes, they could have easily played the lead in Bridgerton.

Nell: It was kind of them to visit you.

Me: They wanted to check it wasn’t anything serious and I wasn’t able to get to the surgery as I was in such pain.

Nell: They were certainly here very quickly.

Me: Yes. Thank goodness for the NHS.

Nell: The main thing is everything is under control now.

Me: It is and I’m a lot better today. I just have to take things easy and keep taking my medication.

Nell: You really haven’t had the best of times recently, have you?

Me: No, I haven’t. Something good needs to happen.

Nell: It will. Trust me.

Me: In the meantime cuddles with Doctor David are helping.

Nell: I’m afraid David has a busy schedule today. You can’t expect the Mayor of Kingsbridge to spend all day in bed.

Me: Except he isn’t actually the mayor.

Nell: Drink your tea before it gets cold, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Gazebos and Toast

Me: My pocketful of happiness today is that the new gazebo has arrived and I can sit outside safely and read.

Nell: Tony was impressed with it.

Me: He was. When Kev first started putting it up I thought it was going to be too big but it’s actually perfect.

Nell: Yes, there’s plenty of room for us all under it.

Me: And the sun worshippers can still enjoy a little sunbathing.

Nell: I presume you’re referring to David.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He loves the warmth of the sun on his fur.

Nell: He overheats. Silly animal.

Me: Says the Labrador with an electric blanket on her sofa.

Nell: Chloe says it’s good for my arthritis.

Me: The grandchildren loved it when they were visiting. They were all warm and toasty.

Nell: Talking of toast, what do you prefer with your boiled egg?

Me: Soldiers to dip in.

Nell: Obviously, but toasted or untoasted?

Me: It depends on the bread. If it’s fresh then definitely untoasted with lots of butter but if it’s a bit stale then toasted.

Nell: Crusts on or off?

Me: Off, please.

Nell: I’m not making you boiled eggs and soldiers.

Me: Why ask?

Nell: My friend Dorothy and I are doing a survey. She thinks people prefer a bread roll with their eggs, or even no bread at all.

Me: That’s shocking.

Nell: Exactly what I said.

Me: Where did she get that idea from?

Nell: Naughty Nigel I expect. He’s on some kind of health kick and has been filling her head with nonsense.

Me: So Dorothy and Nigel are still a thing?

Nell: If you mean are they stepping out together then yes, they are.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: It’s Dorothy and Nigel not Romeo and Juliet.

Me: Yes. Sorry.