by Robert Williams
It was holiday time again - and despite his chequered track record, Des had taken it upon himself to organise their holiday yet again.
"Where are we goin' again?!" said Wayne, as he, Mick, Clive, Mike and Mrs Greasy gathered outside Des's house.
"Des has found some holiday cottage out in the middle of nowhere," said Mick.
"Nowhere?" said Wayne. "Where's that?"
"Hampshire," said Clive. "I do so hope this holiday works out for once! It can't be worse than his previous efforts!"
"I like the sound of this cottage," said Mrs Greasy. "Is it self catering?"
"Oh, er, um...yes..." said Mick.
"Good!" said Mrs Greasy.
"I'll get that Des!!" exclaimed Clive. "Where is he anyway?"
"He's gone to get our transport," said Mike. "It's parked round the back of my garage."
"What's happened to his bus then?!" said Clive.
"He's got rid of it," said Mike. "He said it took up too much space in his drive. It's actually because the council had a go at him for causing havoc in Sainsbury's car park every Saturday morning! And Des doesn't even go to Sainsbury's!"
"I dread to think what he's bought instead," said Mick. "A black cab? A fire engine?"
"Pick-up truck? Milk float?" exclaimed Clive. "A horse box!"
"Now that's just absurd," said Mick.
"No, it is!" exclaimed Clive. "Look!"
Mick turned round and saw Des driving old Ford truck, with the rear section converted into a horse box, down the road. Mick, Clive, Wayne and Mrs Greasy all looked incredulously at it.
"Well it's all Mike had!" said Des, jumping out of the driver's seat.
"I'm NOT going in the back of that!!" exclaimed Clive.
"Yes you are," said Des. "It's all right, I've got some armchairs for you all to sit down in in the back."
There was a mad rush for the front passenger seat. Mick nabbed it, amidst groans from the others.
"Have we really got to go all that way in the back of there?" said Clive, pointing at the horse box.
"Yes," said Des. "What's the problem?"
"Well...you know..." said Clive. "Horses have been in there."
"Clive, it's all right, I gave it a full hose down before I sold it to Des!" said Mike.
"See, words from a true and honest gentleman," said Des. He went and sat in the driver's seat.
"Although I only sold it to him dirt cheap so I could get rid of the thing," said Mike.
"Dirt being the operative word," said Clive, looking in the back of it.
"But I didn't think I'd ever have to travel a hundred miles in the back of it!" moaned Mike.
Clive, Mrs Greasy, Wayne and Mike reluctantly took their suitcases and walked up the gang plank into the horse box where Des had parked the four armchairs.
"This is horrible!" said Clive, looking around. "Who knows what those horses have done in here?!"
They closed the gangplank and they each sat down in an armchair with their suitcase on their lap.
"At least in here we're totally separated from Des, anyway," said Clive. "We don't have to listen to his drivel all the way there."
"Cowabunga dudes!!!" said Wayne, reading his Teenage Mutant Turtles comic.
"On the other hand, we've still got to listen Wayne's drivel," sighed Clive.
Things weren't much better in the cabin.
"Now are you sure you've got everything?" said Mick. "Keys? Clothes? Toothpaste?"
"You're always doing this," moaned Des. "You're as bad as my Aunty."
"Do you know exactly where we're going? Have you got a map?" said Mick.
"Even better, I've got two!" said Des. "They're off the holiday company and shows the precise location of our cottage. I've given one to the other lot in the back so they know where we're going."
"So Clive can help us out when we get lost," said Mick.
"You're so cynical!" said Des. "We won't get lost, we've got a map!!"
"Ugh, it's all greasy!" said Mick, looking at the map.
"Yes, 'Onest Ollie was eating his fish and chips off it when I visited him," said Des.
"'Onest 'Ollie?" said Mick, his heart dropping. "I don't like the sound of this..."
"What's wrong?" said Des. "'Onest 'Ollie's 'Onest 'Olidays! It's a reputable company! There's nothing to worry about it! Jolly cheap as well..."
"Anyway, you can have your horrible greasy map back," said Mick, gingerly handing it back to Des.
"Thanks Mick," said Des. "Tell you what, you wouldn't want to know what he'd been using the other copy for."
This other map was in Mike's hands.
"So even when we're lost, I'll know exactly where we are!" said Mike. "Hey everyone, I've got a good feeling about this holiday."
"So 'ave I!" said Wayne. "But then every 'oliday Des's organised 'as been great!!"
"You lot never learn," said Clive. "Look! This holiday has hardly got off to an auspicious start! So far, our transport there is a horse box, and Mrs Greasy's going to be cooking for us. And we haven't even left yet!"
"Oh lighten up Clive, for goodness sake," said Mrs Greasy. "You're always whingeing about one thing or another!"
"And I think I'll take the map, thank you Mike, after all, I'm the only one here with a modicum of intelligence!"
"I've got a modicum as well, actually," said Wayne. "Picked it up dead cheap down the hi-fi shop!"
"Now are we going?!" said Clive. "We've been sitting here ages!" He banged on the back wall. "Oi, Des, get a move on!!"
Suddenly the van jerked forward, the gangplank fell open and the four armchairs tumbled out of the back. The vehicle drove off down the road.
"Oi!! Come back!!" yelled the foursome, who found themselves sitting in their armchairs in the middle of the road.
"I'm sorry, you can't park there," said PC Plod who happened to be passing.
Luckily, Des and Mick noticed this occurance and went back to pick them up, but not before the others had picked up parking tickets.
Des and Mick had a pleasant drive to Hampshire; Clive, Mike, Wayne and Greasy had a not-so pleasant ride in the back, with their armchairs continually rolling all over the place.
Suddenly they stopped in a country lane in the middle of nowhere.
"Oh!" said Mick. "Are we here?"
"Didn't you see the sign?" said Des. "'Welcome to Nowhere', it said!"
"Well where's our cottage then?"
"Um, I'm not sure, I've just stopped to check the map. I think it's round here somewhere."
In the horse box, the others were making assumptions.
"We've stopped!" said the observant Mrs Greasy. "Do you think we've arrived?"
"I've been following the map all the way," said Clive. "This is it!"
"And about time!" said Mike. "I can barely walk!"
They let down the gangplank and one by one wheeled down onto the road in their armchairs.
"Look at it!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy in amazement.
"I have to admit," said Clive. "For once, I'm impressed!"
They stood by some large gates, at the foot of a long gravel drive which led up to a huge mansion-style house.
"Yummy!!" said Clive. "Things are looking up for once!"
Mrs Greasy closed the horsebox's gangplank for neatness, and the four of them walked up the drive carrying their suitcases, leaving the four armchairs in the road.
Back in the truck, Des was still squinting at the map.
"That's a nice big house over there," said Mick.
"Hmmm, yes it is, isn't it," said Des. Finally he came to a conclusion. "Right, I think we've got a little bit further to go. Let's drive on."
The truck drove off, and the others stopped in their tracks.
"Oh! Where are they off to?" said Mrs Greasy.
"Who cares, we're here now!" said Clive. "Des's probably just having trouble reading his map."
"Oh yes, of course," said Mrs G. They carried on walking up to the house.
"Wrap your eyeballs round this!" said Mike, rushing over to the car port. "This must be our hire car! A Jaguar XK8! Brand new! Beautiful!"
They went up to the front door.
"Who's got the key?" said Mrs Greasy.
"Umm...Des has," said Clive. "Oh great!"
"Don't worry, they'll be back here soon enough!" said Mike. "You know what Des is like."
"There might be another way in," said Clive. "Let's try round the back."
They did so - and to their surprise the back door was open.
"We're in luck!" said Clive. "Perhaps the cleaning lady forgot to close it."
They entered the house and had a good look around.
"This is absolutely magnificent!" said Clive. "It's all fully furnished!! All mod cons! It's even got one of those indoor swimming pools! I take everything back I've said about Des!"
"Check this out!" said Wayne, calling from the living room. He had found a remote control unit by the door. "Look!"
With the buttons, he started opening and closing windows, switching the lights on and off, swivelling armchairs around and shifting the television in and out of the wall unit.
"Just be careful Wayne," said Mrs G. "You don't want to break anything."
"Yes Mrs Greasy," said Wayne meekly.
Wayne carried on playing with the technology, Mrs Greasy went to the kitchen to cook some lunch, while Mike and Clive went to investigate the bedrooms.
"How swish!" said Clive. "This one's a four-poster!"
"What do you mean?" said Mike. "I can't see a four-poster bed!"
"No, there's four posters on the wall!" exclaimed Clive.
"'Ere Clive, come and look out here!" said Mike, looking out of the window. "Look at that rundown old cottage over the road! Which poor people have to live there?!"
"Ah bless," said Clive. They looked at the old cottage, which was directly opposite their holiday home. The windows were broken, the chimney stack had fallen down, the garden was overgrown and it generally looked a mess.
"Maybe that's a holiday cottage as well!" laughed Mike.
"I bet it is!" laughed Clive. "Cor, the poor beggars who have got to stay in there for a week! They've been done!"
Clive and Mike had a good laugh at the cottage. At that moment, Mrs Greasy, was not laughing. She was too busy trying to figure the kitchen out.
"I don't understand all this new technology," she said to herself. "Electric ovens, whatever next? What's wrong with gas mark 5, for goodness sake?"
She put some potatoes into the oven.
"Now is this dial in Centigrade or Fahrenheit? Hmmm..." She twiddled about with some knobs.
As Mrs Greasy set about causing havoc in the kitchen, Des and Mick had now driven several miles down the country lane.
"I'm sure it must be around here somewhere," said Des.
"I'm hungry," said Mick. "Let's stop by that Little Chef." So they did.
"Hey Little Chef!" called over Des. "Do you know where we can get some food?"
"Over there!" said the little chef, pointing at a Happy Eater restaurant just ahead.
"Thanks!" said Des. They drove on and parked in the restaurant car park. Des got out and banged on the rear of the vehicle. "Oi you lot, we've stopped for lunch!"
He got no reply. Not surprising, considering they were several miles back down the road.
"I think they're all right as they are," said Des. "Come on, let's get some food."
As they sat in the restaurant tucking in, Mick decided to have a look at the map.
"Oh Des! No wonder we're lost! The map's been printed upside down!"
"Don't be ridiculous!" said Des.
"How long has Hampshire been north of London?"
"Since the government privatised it?" said Des. He stared at the map for a long time. "Oh yes..."
"'Onest Roger's 'Onest 'Olidays, I don't know," said Mick, shaking his head in disbelief. "Why couldn't you book up with a reputable company - you might have got a proper map!"
They finished their lunch and got back into the vehicle.
"So which way have we got to go then, clever clogs?!" said Des.
"Back the way we came," said Mick. "I'll tell you when to stop."
Back over at the house, Mike had gone down to the car port to have a proper look at the engine of their hire Jaguar. He was rather surprised to see a Bentley coming up the drive.
"Ah you must be the chauffeur," said Mike to the driver.
"What??!!!" said the man. "Who on earth are you??!!! What are you doing in my house?!"
"Hi!" said Mike. "I'm Mike the Manic Mechanic! Your house?"
Meanwhile, Clive and Wayne had gone down to the indoor swimming pool.
"Oooh, I can't wait to spend hours soaking up the water!" said Clive as they walked through the door and round the pool.
"Err Clive," said Wayne stopping suddenly. "There's a lady in the pool."
Clive looked on in horror. Wayne was right.
"Oh my god. I think we've - I mean Des has - made a terrible mistake," said Clive. "This isn't our holiday cottage. It's someone's house!!!"
"Oh that's all right then," said Wayne. "I 'aven't broken too much. Only the lights, curtains, telly, reclinin' sofa, coffee table..."
"Great," said Clive. "Look, I think she's asleep. If we creep out now, we might get away with it."
They went to creep out. As they reached the door, the lady called out to them.
"Who are you?! Why are you in my house?!"
"Oh...er..." said Clive, desperately trying to think of something.
"We're the winda cleaners!" said Wayne.
"Err yes, that's right, we're the winda, I mean window, cleaners," said Clive.
"Henry didn't mention this to me," said the lady. "If you're window cleaners, then why are you dressed in swimming trunks?!"
Luckily they didn't have to think of an excuse this time - because just then Mike walked through the door with Henry.
"Gloria, just what is going on here?!" said Henry.
"I was just saying," said Clive, Wayne and Mike in unison. "We're the..."
"...window cleaners," said Clive and Wayne.
"...mechanics," said Mike.
"Mechanical winda cleaners!" proclaimed Wayne.
And then as if things couldn't get any worse - in walked Mrs Greasy.
"I don't want to worry you lot," she said, "but I've just set the kitchen on fire!!!"
Meanwhile, back in the horse box...
"Stop!" exclaimed Mick.
"But this is..." started Des.
"...exactly where we stopped before," finished Mick.
"But that big house," said Des, "certainly isn't our holiday cottage!"
They got out of the truck to investigate.
"Interesting," said Des. "Four armchairs in the road."
He didn't have long to consider this intriguing concept; suddenly Clive, Mike, Mrs G and Wayne came running down the driveway and into the road, just as a fire engine came racing towards them.
"What are you all doing here? ?!" exclaimed Des. "I thought you lot were still in the horse box!"
"We've been in there!" exclaimed Clive, pointing at the big house, as the fire engine ran over the armchairs and drove up the driveway towards it. "We thought that was it!!"
"Oh no, silly, that's not our holiday cottage," laughed Des. "You daft lot! Ha, ha!!"
"We've realised that now!!!" exclaimed Clive, who was working up into a rage.
"Ha, ha!" laughed Des. "You thought that was our cottage! That's the funniest thing I've heard in ages!! He, he, he!!! Oh ha, ha, ha!!!"
Des couldn't stop laughing, and even Mick raised a smile. Clive stood there steaming, and the others weren't too happy either.
"So if that isn't our holiday cottage, where is it?!" said Clive.
"Umm..." said Des, looking around. "Ah! That's it!" He pointed at the rickety old cottage Clive and Mike had been looking at earlier.
"Oh no," said Clive. "No. Tell me this isn't happening. You are joking, of course."
"Isn't it cute?" said Des. "That's our cottage!"
"Can we go home?" said Mick, as they tramped through the overgrown garden to the house.
"No! I've paid for this! Let's go inside!" Des took the key and opened the front door, which immediately came off its hinges. "Hmmm..."
"We can't stay here!" moaned Mick, as they walked inside the centuries-old cottage.
"What's the matter?" said Des. "It's historic!"
"No one can have been in here for years!" said Mick. "Look at the dust!"
"It's historic dust!" said Des. "Now this is going to be a fantastic week! We've got all mod cons in here. Look, see-through windows, stairs going both up and down and wall-to-wall floors!"
"Very good Des, but I can hardly see any of it!" said Mick.
"What do you mean, it's not dark!" said Des.
"No, it's just all the cobwebs!" said Mick. "But put the light on anyway."
"Light," said Des. "Umm...I can't...the thing is...this place doesn't necessarily have electricity..."
There were groans from all quarters.
"I think I preferred the other place!" said Wayne.
"Can we go home now?" said Mick.
"A whole week without electricity," sighed Clive, slumping into a chair - which promptly collapsed.
"Ha ha!" laughed Wayne.
"That's the only entertainment you're going to get this week!" said Mick. "No telly for you!"
"Oh no!" exclaimed Wayne. "That means I'm gonna miss 'Pets Win Prizes'!"
"You must be the only one who misses it, that hasn't been on for years!" said Clive, who was still picking himself up from the floor and wondering if he dare try another chair.
"Don't worry, we can always have a sing-song," said Des.
"Can we go home now?" said Mick.
"Well I reckon you all must be hungry, so I'll rustle up a tasty snack for us all!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Can we go home now?" said Mick.
"It's lucky for everyone my portable microwave works on its own generator!" said Mrs G, hurrying into the kitchen.
"I'll go and see if the upstairs is any better," said Mick, "though I somehow doubt it."
But there was a problem. Mick's foot went straight through the first and second stairs.
"I don't believe this," he said. "This is a woodworm's paradise! We'll have to sleep downstairs!"
"Oh no, what about when we need to go to the loo?!" said Wayne.
"Loo's in the garden," said Des. "You'll spot it, it's disguised as a bush."
Meanwhile, Mike had followed Mrs Greasy into the kitchen.
"'Ere Mrs G, is there any chance you could set fire to this kitchen as well?" asked Mike.
"I don't think I'll be able to," said Mrs G, looking around. "Gas cooker, stove, this is all the kind of kitchen equipment I'm used to. I'll try my best."
Despite her best efforts, Mrs Greasy could not set fire to the kitchen. After a thoroughly miserable meal, they had a thoroughly miserable evening. Mick couldn't stop sneezing for all the dust, the only light they had was candle light, and worst of all they had to suffer one of Des's sing-songs.
And as they were unable to go upstairs, they had to spend the night downstairs or seek other alternatives - Des took the sofa, Mick slept on the floor, Clive was slumped in the broken chair, Mrs Greasy spent it on the fridge, Wayne slept on the roof, and Mike crept back into the other house and spent it relaxing in the swimming pool.
They were woken early the next morning by what sounded like some machinery.
"What's that noise?" said Des, waking up with a start. He opened the front door to investigate.
"Oh my goodness!" said Des, seeing a bulldozer facing him. Hoping he was still dreaming, he closed the door and opened it again. The bulldozer was still there. So Des went out to see the man operating the machinery.
"What on earth are you doing in there?!" gasped the man when he saw Des. "I'm just about to demolish this place!"
"Demolish it?" said Des. "But we're on holiday... Hey you lot! This bloke's come to knock our cottage down!"
"WHAT??!!!" exclaimed the others, coming to the door.
"This cottage is unfit for human habitation!" said the man. "It's been on the condemned list for five years!"
"My prayers have been answered!!" exclaimed Clive, gathering his belongings.
"Can we go home now?" said Mick.
"Well I suppose so..." said Des. "I wonder what else 'Onest 'Ollie's got on offer..."
Copyright © Robert Williams
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