by Robert Williams
Mick was unlucky enough to bump into Des while shopping in Kingston town centre.
"Look what I've bought!" exclaimed Des, as they walked along the road.
"Do I have to?" said Mick. "Oh, it's just some old record."
"No it's not 'just some old record'!" said Des. "It's a highly collectable seven inch vinyl copy of Donny Osmond's 'Puppy Love'! It's very very rare!"
"How can that be a rare record?!" said Mick. "It was a number one hit! It's not rare at all!"
"Oh yes it is!" said Des. "Because this is from the initial pressing of just two hundred copies! You see, on the label on the B-side, Donny Osmond's name is misspelt with three 'n's!"
"Wow," said Mick, totally underwhelmed.
"So because of this mistake, the pressings stopped and most of the copies were discarded, but somehow a few copies did get out. So this record is almost unique!!"
"How much did you pay for it?"
"Few hundred pounds," said Des, vaguely.
"Good grief," said Mick. "You've been had!"
"You obviously don't appreciate the subtleties," said Des. "Look, I'll show you!"
They stopped where they were, which happened to be on the bridge over the River Thames. Des took the record out of the sleeve.
"Des, I'm really not that interested..." said Mick. "Oh look there's..."
As bad luck would have it, Wayne came up behind Des at that very moment.
"'Allo Des, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!" he exclaimed, slapping Des on the back.
"Oh my god!!" gasped Des. The shock was so great that he dropped the Donny Osmond record he had in his hand and it fell down into the river below.
"'Ow yer goin'?!" said Wayne.
"Look what you've done!!!!!" exclaimed Des. "My four hundred pound ultra-rare Donny Osmond single!!!"
"Anyway, gotta go, see yer later!" said Wayne, walking off.
"I don't believe him!" exclaimed Des. He peered over the bridge and into the river below.
"Can you see it?" said Mick.
"No!" exclaimed Des. "You know what we'll have to do. We'll have to fish it out!"
"You mean you'll have to..."
"But who do we know with some fishing equipment?" said Des.
"Clive," said Mick. "He sometimes goes fishing."
"Let's go!" exclaimed Des.
They rushed off to Clive's house.
"He's not in," said Mick as they walked up the drive.
"How on earth can you know that, I haven't rung the doorbell yet!!" said Des.
He rammed his finger on the doorbell, but no one answered.
"Des, he's not in," said Mick.
"Give him a chance!!" said Des.
But after ringing the bell continuously for ages, there was still no answer.
"All right then, he's not in," said Des. "But how did you know?!"
"Because his car's not there," said Mick.
"Yes...I knew that...just seeing how long it took for you to spot that..." said Des. "All right then, where does he keep his fishing gear?!"
"I don't know, in his shed probably," sighed Mick.
"Right, if we're quick enough he won't even notice we've borrowed them," said Des, rushing off round the back of Clive's house.
"Oh Des..." sighed Mick, going after him.
Des rummaged round Clive's shed but no fishing gear was to be found. They also checked in his greenhouse, his garage and his birdbath .
"Well it's obvious then, isn't it?!" exclaimed Mick, when they finally gave up looking.
"...Is it?" said Des.
"Yes!" said Mick. "He's gone fishing!!"
"Durrrr!!" said Des. "Of course!! But where?!"
"I don't know!" said Mick. "Down the park, probably, round that big lake!"
So they went off down the park, and sure enough there was Clive, fishing round that big lake. They found him on the bank wearing a tweed hat, with his fishing tackle neatly laid out on a little table beside him. He sat there with his fishing rod, staring into space, seemingly oblivious to the world around him.
Des and Mick walked up to him, but he didn't notice them, so Des tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped up with a start.
"Oh my god!" exclaimed Clive. "What is it?!?! Oh it's you two! What do you want?!"
"Hello!" said Des cheerfully.
"Can't you lot ever leave me alone?!" moaned Clive. "I come here for peace and quiet, a bit of sanctuary!"
"Sorry Clive, but this is important!" exclaimed Des. "Um, you tell him Mick." Mick sighed.
"Des has dropped..."
"I didn't drop it, it fell!" said Des indignantly.
"...a record by Don..." continued Mick.
"Mick!" whispered Des, grabbing him by the arm and turning him round. "Don't tell Clive I bought a Donny Osmond record! It's just a bit, you know, kind of..."
"Naff?" said Mick.
"Yes yes, whatever," said Des. "Say it was..." Des whispered something in Mick's ear, and they turned back to face Clive.
"Des has dropped a record by Terry Wogan into the River Thames by mistake."
"I had only just bought it," said Des. "Ultra-rare seven inch vinyl. Highly valuable."
"Right," said Clive. "And you came all the way out here just to tell me that."
"Yes," said Des. "So we'd..."
"He'd," emphasised Mick.
"...like to borrow your fishing equipment to get it out," said Des.
"Because obviously things like maggots are extremely useful for fishing out objects like records!" exclaimed Clive.
"All right then, just the rod will do," said Des.
"Here!" exclaimed Clive. "Have my spare one!"
"And...um..." said Des. "Can I borrow your hat? You can't fishing without one of those hats!"
"Take it!!" exclaimed Clive. "Now please leave me alone!"
"Umm...and Clive...can I borrow your wellies?"
"GO AWAY!!!" gnarled Clive.
Des and Mick decided it would be best to leave him. Des took the rod and hat, and they rushed off back to the bank of the River Thames, near where the record had been dropped. Des donned the hat and sat himself down by the river.
"This is quite relaxing," said Des.
"Boring, more like," said Mick. "You don't need me here, I'm going home to read the paper!" He walked off.
"Coh! And he calls me boring," mumbled Des to himself. "Now let's see if I can manage to cast off!"
Des picked up the rod and enthusiastically cast it into the air. Unfortunately as the fishing line flew into the air it caught the zip of Mick's jacket, who was walking back towards the road.
"Gosh, what have I caught?!" said Des. "Something big!!" With some difficulty he reeled in the fishing line, and eventually found Mick on the end of it.
"Hello Mick, I thought you were going home!" said Des.
"So did I!!" snapped Mick. He angrily unhooked himself from the fishing line. "I'm staying right away from you, you're dangerous with that thing!!"
"Touchy touchy," said Des.
After spending six hours fishing for Donny Osmond records off the bank of the River Thames, Des decided to go home. He went to see if Mick was in a better mood.
"Did you find it?" said Mick.
"No!" exclaimed Des. "I'll tell you what I did find!" One by one, he took out a succession of manky objects from his bag. "A bucket belonging to Wayne. A rock cake belonging to Mrs Greasy. A spark plug belonging to Mike. An old baseball cap belonging to Dickie the Vicar. "Oh yes, and I also caught a fish. But I didn't find my record!!"
"Are you going to give all those things back?" said Mick.
"Naaah, I'll sell it all at a car boot sale," said Des. "Now, as I was sitting at the side of the Thames, I had a thought."
"Uh-oh..." said Mick.
"I thought, what a waste of time this is," said Des.
"And yet you still stayed there for six hours," said Mick.
"No, I didn't think this until after five hours fifty-five minutes," said Des. "I thought, how small are the chances of that record happening to float past at that particular spot?"
"Very small," said Mick.
"Indeed," said Des. "So what I thought we need to do, to have any chance of finding this record, is to actually get into the water!"
"Oh no," said Mick.
"We need to go diving," said Des.
"OH NO!!" exclaimed Mick.
Des and Mick went round to see Mike the Manic Mechanic the next morning, on the off-chance that he had some deep sea divers outfits.
"Des, you're in luck!" exclaimed Mike. "I've got one round the back of my workshop!"
"Goshingtons," said Des. "You seem to have everything round the back of your workshop!"
"No, I don't, it's just coincidence that it always seem to be the things you need," said Mike. "What do you want it for?"
"I'm after a record," said Des.
"Really?!" exclaimed Mike. "How fascinating!"
"I'm diving for it," explained Des. "I need to go underwater. In the River Thames, just by Kingston bridge."
"Fascinating!" repeated Mike. "Tell you what, I'll go and fetch your suit."
Mike went off round the back of his workshop. He came back with an old fashioned cumbersome diving outfit, complete with a metal helmet.
"Good grief," said Mick. "How old is that thing?!"
"It's about sixty years old!" exclaimed Mike. "It's an oldie, but a goodie!!"
"Have you only got the one?" said Des. "Mick will be very disappointed if he can't have one as well."
"No I won't!" exclaimed Mick.
"Are you after that record as well?" said Mike.
"No, Des is the one who wants it, I'm just tagging along behind," said Mick.
"Perhaps you could take it in turns," said Mike.
"Perhaps not!" exclaimed Mick.
"Suit yourself," said Des. "Anyway, have you got a boat as well Mike?"
"Sure thing!" said Mike. "Tell you what, I'll meet you with it by the side of the Thames this afternoon!"
"Superb!" said Des. "Look forward to it!" He picked up the diver's outfit, but as the helmet was so heavy he had great difficulty in doing so. "Gosh it's heavy!! You try, Mick!"
Mick tried picking it up, with equal difficulty.
"It's too heavy!" said Mick. "Can't we both carry it..."
But Des had already walked off.
"Hurry up!!" exclaimed Des when he arrived back at his house, to Mick who was some way behind. He waited on his doorstep for Mick to drag the outfit up the road.
"Why did you make me carry that thing all that way?!" exclaimed Mick when he finally
"Come on, we've got to share responsibility!" said Des. "I'm the one who's got to wear it!!"
Des tried putting it on, but because it was so difficult and it took so long he decided there wouldn't be time to take it off and then put it on again when they got to the river.
"I'll have to walk there in it," said Des. He put the helmet on.
"Okay, but as long as I can walk at least ten paces behind," said Mick.
So the people of Kingston-upon-Thames doing their shopping that afternoon were treated to the unusual sight of some idiot walking along the street in a diver's outfit. Mick walked some way behind, doing his best to blend in with the shoppers. When Des arrived by the riverside, Mike was there, putting the boat in the water.
"Hi there Des, you look great!" said Mike. Des gave a thumbs up. Then he looked at the boat, and started pointing at it and waving his arms about. Mike stared at him blankly, so Des took the helmet off.
"Is that supposed to be our boat?!" said Des. It was a little wooden rowing boat, with no room for more than two people.
"There's room for two people!" said Mike. "And it floats! What more do you want?!"
"I suppose it'll do," said Des. "Oh look, here's Mick."
"There's Mick, but where's Vince?" said Mike, looking around.
"Who?" said Mick.
"Dunno," said Des. "Come on, let's not waste any more time. Get in!"
"What me?!" said Mick. "In that?!"
Des and Mick gingerly stepped into the boat.
"Oh, you getting in already?" said Mike.
"We've no time to lose!!" exclaimed Des. "I've got to get that record!!"
"Well all right then, but I'll have to stay here," said Mike. "If Mick goes in, that means there'll be no room for me!"
"No, you can go in instead!" said Mick, standing up. But he nearly fell over as Des had already started rowing the boat away from the bank.
"How far across are you going?" said Mick.
"Round about the middle," said Des. "That record has probably drifted quite some way by now!"
"Now just remember Des, if I get so much as a drop of water on me, I am going straight back to the shore!"
When they reached the middle of the river, Des stopped rowing, and got ready to dive in.
"Now when I want to come back up, I'll tug on this line, and you pull me up," said Des. "Got that?!"
"Yeah yeah," said Mick.
"Good!" said Des. "Here goes!" He donned the heavy metal helmet, and got ready to jump out of the boat. He made a thumbs up signal to Mick, and Mick made a thumbs up signal at Mike. Mike made a thumbs up signal back. Des jumped into the water, and Mick immediately got soaked. But despite what he said earlier, he stayed exactly where he was.
Des spent ages in the water, searching all around for his rare record, as far as he could go on the diving suit's 'umbilical cord'.
"Goodness me, he's taking forever," yawned Mick to himself. "I hope he's all right!" It didn't take much longer for him to fall sound asleep.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours, Mick was awoken abruptly by a tugging on the line. He pulled on it with all his might, and soon the top of Des's head started to emerge from the water.
"OI!!" shouted Mike from the side of the river. "GET BACK DOWN!!!" He made a pushing down action with his hands. Mick wasn't really sure what Mike was on about, but he did as he said, and let go of the line sending Des right back into the water.
"JUST SEVEN MORE MINUTES!!" shouted Mike. So despite the continual tugging on the line, Mick did nothing.
"BRING HIM UP NOW!!" shouted Mike, at last. Mick dragged up the line and Des, covered in seaweed and muck, climbed shakily into the boat. In in his hand was a seven inch vinyl single, which was dripping wet (you don't say?!). He gave it to Mick and took his helmet off.
"Mick, what were you doing?!" said Des. "I tugged on the line, you started to pull me up, then you let me whoosh right back down again!!"
"Dunno, just doing what Mike said," said Mick.
"Well, whatever," said Des. "You look a bit wet, Mick. I thought you weren't going in the water."
Mick grumbled something under his breath.
"Anyway, I found this," said Des. "Now examine it carefully - is it my Donny Osmond record?"
Mick stared at the label. "Yes."
"Are you sure?" said Des. "Is his name spelt with three 'n's on the B-side?"
"That's it!!!" exclaimed Des, grabbing the record from Mick. "I've found it!!!"
Des stood up excitedly in the boat and started dancing about and cheering.
"Careful Des, don't rock the boat about!!" exclaimed Mick worriedly, clinging onto the sides.
Over on the bank they could see Mike, who was also dancing about and cheering.
"For goodness sake, it's only a record," said Mick. "Some people get excited about the smallest things..."
Once Des's excitement had died down a bit, he sat down and Mick rowed the boat back to shore.
"Des, well done!" exclaimed Mike, shaking Des excitedly by the hand as he got out of the boat. "You've broken the record!"
"No I haven't broken it, look, it's still in one piece," said Des, holding up the record.
"What's that?" said Mike.
"The record I was after," said Des. "I dropped it in by mistake!"
Mike stood there open-mouthed.
"But...but...I thought...you meant...something different..."
"Who's your friend, Mike?" asked Mick.
"My name is Vince Smith," said the man. "I'm from the Guinness Book of Records. Mr Wednesday, congratulations, I am delighted to tell you that you are the new British record holder for staying the longest length of time diving underwater."
Des was rather bemused.
"Well it wasn't actually that kind of record I was after," he said. "But it's very nice all the same."
When Des got home, he left it out on the draining board to dry.
"So are you going to try and play it then?" said Mick the next day.
"Play it?" said Des.
"Well that's what people usually do with records," said Mick.
"But I can't stand Donny Osmond!" said Des.
"You what?!?!??" exclaimed Mick. "You mean we went to all that trouble to retrieve a record that you don't even like?!!?!!"
"It's a rare record!" said Des. "Highly collectable, very valuable. Well, that's what the man in the shop told me, anyway."
"What shop was that?" said Mick.
"Honest Anthony's Extremely Honest Record Shop Honest Guv," replied Des.
Copyright © Robert Williams
Random story: Des Goes on Jury Service