by Robert Williams
Des was giving Mick a lift to Farmer Files's farm, where Mick was going to pick up some bags of peat to put on his garden (like, what else was he going to do with them?!) However Des was slightly uneasy about going up to the farm.
"What's the problem?!" said Mick, as they drove up the winding lane that led to the farm.
"I'm just worried Files is going to get us spying again!" said Des. "I hated it the last time!"
"There's nothing to worry about, PI6 has closed down!" said Mick. "Look, all the covered-up signs have been taken down!!"
"Yes, and they've been replaced by signs that say 'Welcome to the University of Pig'," said Des.
"University of what?!?!?!" said Mick, alarmed. "On second thoughts, I think I'll get that peat from the garden centre instead, it won't cost much more. Let's turn round, quick!!"
"Too late, he's already spotted us," groaned Des, for he could see Files waving at them. So Des drove up to the farmyard, parked his Fiat 126, and Des and Mick got out of the car.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!!!" greeted Files. "Welcome, Des and Mick, to the campus of Britain's newest universi'y!! The Universi'y of Pig!!"
"What's all that about then?" asked Des.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! Oi be decided to create a world-renowned cen're of learnin' roight 'ere in moi farm'ouse!! And you two, Des and Mick, be invoi'ed to join up today!!"
"No thanks," said Mick. "Can I just collect my peat and go?!"
"I told you it wasn't a good idea to come up here," said Des. "How many students have you got enrolled so far, Farmer Files?"
"Oooooh arrrrrrrr!!!" said Files. "One!!"
"ONE?!?!" said Des and Mick.
Just then Wayne came running out of the farmhouse.
"Hi Des and Mick, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!! 'Ere Filesy, are yer ready for me next lecture?!?!"
"WAYNE?!?!" exclaimed Des and Mick.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!! When you be startin' a new universi'y, you can't be too picky!!" said Files. "That be why oi be askin' you two!! Remember, it never be too late, even for you, Des and Mick!!"
"Hmmm," said Des, who was starting to get tempted by the proposition. "Hey, if I got a degree, I'd be a third of the way to catching up with Clive!!"
"What do you mean?" asked Mick.
"I'm sure he said he's got three degrees," said Des.
"No, no, he said he's got a record by The Three Degrees!" said Mick. "'When Will I See You Again?'"
"Probably tomorrow, since you're asking," said Des. "Anyway, count me in, Farmer Files!!"
"You don't even know what courses he's running!!" said Mick.
"What courses are you running?" asked Des.
"Agricultural studies, I suppose, hardly your kind of thing, Des!" said Mick.
"Oooooh arrrrrr, no, no!!" said Files. "No one be interes'ed in agricultural studies these days!! No, no, oi be teachin' media studies!!"
"Media studies?!?!?!" exclaimed Mick. "What on earth do you know about the media?!?!"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Oi be readin' the Daily Mirror almost every week!!! Anyway, oi be glad to 'ave you both on board!!"
"Wait a minute, I never said anything about..." started Mick.
"Now over there be your 'alls of residence!!" said Files, pointing over the same old outbuilding that just a few weeks earlier Des and Mick had stayed the night in when it was the PI6 'safe house'.
"What about my peat?!" said Mick.
"Who is this Pete, anyway?" mumbled Des.
"Oh Des, what you have you got us into now?!?!" moaned Mick.
Files wandered off talking to himself.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! So now oi be 'avin' three students, and moiself - at last oi be 'avin' a whole team for 'Universi'y Challenge!!!"
Des and Mick declined Files's offer to stay in halls of residence, through past experience, and instead decided to stay the night in their respective houses. The next morning Files came calling on them.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! Mornin' Des!! Oi be wantin' you to be 'andin' over your tuition fee!!" said Files.
"Oh Farmer Files, can I pay you later, I need to go down the bank first!" said Des, who in reality didn't actually have a bank account, he kept all his money under his bed.
"Ooooooh arrrrrrr!!! All roight then, since it be you!!" said Files. "Now don't be late for the first lecture at 10.00!!"
But when Des and Mick arrived at the farmhouse for their first lecture hosted by Farmer Files in media studies (snigger), they were to be disappointed - well, relieved, actually.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!" greeted Files. "Bad news, oi be afraid!! Your first lecture be cancelled!!"
"What for?!" said Des.
"Moi application to appear on 'Universi'y Challenge 'as been turned down!!" said Files. "Just because of some trivial matter where they be claimin' the Universi'y of Pig not be a proper universi'y!! Wha' baloney!!"
"Yeah, what baloney!!" said Des.
"Well it's true, it isn't a proper university," said Mick.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!! As far as oi can be seein', there be no point in carryin' on wi' the Universi'y of Pig!!" said Files.
"What?!" said Mick. "You mean you only set up a university in order that you could enter a team onto 'University Challenge'?!?!"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files.
"Well anyway," said Mick, "now you're closing, does this mean I get a refund on my tuition fee?"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files.
"Can I go home now?" said Des. "I'm missing 'Britain's Worst Hedgehogs' on UK Daft Ideas!!"
"UK Daft Oideas..." muttered Files. "This gives me an oidea!!!"
"A daft one, obviously," said Mick.
"Ooooooh arrrrrrr!!" said Files. "The Universi'y of Pig not be closin' after all!! Oi be lettin' you know when your first lecture be takin' place!!"
Two days later, Files rang up Des and Mick and told them to be at the university at 8.00 that evening.
"8.00 in the evening?!?!" said Des. "That's a funny time for a lecture! Still, at least it means I get to miss most of Dickie the Vicar's disco!!"
When Des and Mick arrived at the university, they saw a note on the front door informing them that the lecture would be taking place in the barn.
"The barn?!" said Des. "That's a funny place for a lecture!"
"Wasn't a farmhouse a funny enough place?!" said Mick.
They walked across to Files's barn, and when they walked inside they were surprised to see it buzzing with people. There was a camera crew and television production team, and at one side stood a bizarre wooden contraption, a kind of double decker desk construction. Sitting on the lower deck were four clones of Farmer Files. On the upper deck were sitting Wayne and Mrs Greasy, with two spaces. All had their surname written on the desk in front of them.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Evenin' Des and Mick, would you be loikin' to sit upstairs!! Thank you!!"
Des and Mick climbed the rickety steps which led to the upper deck, and sat on a bench alongside Wayne and Greasy.
"What's going on?!" said Des. "This really is a strange kind of lecture!! What's that camera crew doing here?! And where did all those farmers downstairs come from?!"
They soon found out. They had been conned - this was no lecture. A jangly piece of music came through some speakers, and then Farmer Files, who had sat down at an ordinary desk opposite them, began to address the camera.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!! And you be welcome to UK Daft Oideas's newest programme!! Yes, it be 'Farmerversi'y Challenge'!!!"
The production crew played in some canned applause through the speakers, as Des and Mick's hearts sank.
"In this ere excoitin' new quiz, we be discoverin' just who be the cleverest!! Farmers versus Cretins!! So let us first be meetin' the Farmers!!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed the first farmer. "Oi be Farmer Miles, and oi be a sheep farmer!!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed the second farmer. "Oi be Farmer Lyles, and oi be a cattle farmer!!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed the third farmer. "Oi be Farmer Dials, and oi be a poultry farmer!!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed the fourth farmer. "Oi be Farmer Biles, and oi be a weasel farmer!!"
"Weasel farmer?!?!?!" exclaimed Mick.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Farmer Files over some more canned applause. "Now let's be meetin' the Cretins!!"
One by one, the Cretins - Des, Mick, Mrs Greasy and Wayne - introduced themselves, but unfortunately this time the canned applause didn't seem to work.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed Files. "Now 'ere be your starter for ten! What activity be the most loikely to be causin' soil erosion?!"
One of the Farmers team buzzed in straight away.
"Farmers - Dials," said a voiceover man sitting in the corner.
"Removal of 'edgerows!!" answered Farmer Dials.
"That be correct!!" exclaimed Files, over some canned applause. "The Farmers be takin' control of the game!! Now Farmers, in which year be the Common Agricul'ural Policy in'roduced?..."
As 'Farmerversity Challenge' went on, the Cretins started to notice a pattern. Every single question seemed to be to do with farming - and so not surprisingly, the Farmers were soon running away with it, with the Cretins' score resolutely stuck at zero.
"This is so embarrassing," muttered Des. "And this is going out live on national television."
"Don't worry, it's only UK Daft Ideas, the UK's most desperate channel," muttered Mick. "It's not like anyone's watching."
"I'm just going to press my buzzer anyway, I want to hear what it sounds like," said Des.
So when Files read out the next starter for ten, Des buzzed in straight away, even though he hadn't even really been listening to the question.
"Cretins - Wednesday," said the voiceover man.
"Ummm....ummm...ummm..." said Des.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!! Come on, come on!!" said Files.
"Could you repeat the question?" asked Des, as canned sniggers were played in.
"What be the original engine capaci'y of the Fiat 126?!!" said Files.
"Oh, I know!! 593cc!!" exclaimed Des.
"Oooooh arrrrr!! Wrong, you should 'ave known that, you imbecile!!" said Files.
The Farmers buzzed in.
"594cc!!" said Farmer Lyles.
"Correct!!" said Files.
"594, oh of course!!" said Des.
"Thanks a bunch, Des," groaned Mrs Greasy. "Our first chance at getting some points and you blew it!!"
All the remaining questions were back to agriculture, and so when the contest ended the scores were unsurprisingly Farmers 350, Cretins 0.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "And so that be provin' it!! Farmers really be the most intelligent!! Good night!!"
The cretins climbed down from their desks and down the steps.
"How humiliating," sighed Des. "At least it was on at the same time as 'DeadEnders', so no one will have seen it."
"Never mind that, this has given me a brilliant idea!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
"Uh-oh..." groaned Des and Mick.
The next morning, the twosome apprehensively went along to the cafe as usual. But things were not as usual in the cafe. All the chairs had been removed, and the tables arranged in a semi-circle, with Wayne, Mike, Dickie and some random members of the public stood behind them. More worryingly, Mrs Greasy was standing in the centre, wearing a stripy knitted jersey, a false beard, and a many-coloured wig.
"Good morning!" said Mrs Greasy. "And welcome to the game show where there are no questions, except for one - 'Meal or No Meal'!!"
"Good grief," said Des. "UK Daft Ideas are really getting desperate now!"
"But where are the cameras? The production team?" said Mick.
"This isn't for UK Daft Ideas!" said Mrs Greasy. "This is my most ingenious scheme yet to drum up business!! Who could resist the opportunity to win some amazing prizes, like rock cakes or bread pudding (cooked by myself), in a nail-biting game show!!!"
"I could," said Mick.
"Tell the truth, I am actually hoping to get this format picked up by one of the big television companies," said Mrs Greasy. Imagine, 'Meal or No Meal' coming live from my cafe, every morning on BBC1!!! Think of all the money I could make!!!!"
"Are you mad, the BBC won't come anywhere near your cafe again!! " said Mick. "Not after the last time when they did that edition of 'Top of the Pops' from your roof - it was so bad that they lost all their viewers!! Why do you think they axed it just afterwards?!!"
"Oh stop chatting and go and stand behind your tables!" said Mrs G. Des and Mick noticed that two of the tables had their names written on the front, so deduced that this is where they should stand.
"Time for round one!" said Mrs G. "Ninety seconds on the clock, starting now! Des, what is the capital of Paris?"
"Eh? said Des. "France?"
"Correct!" said Mrs G. "Mick, what is that big yellow round thing in the sky called?"
"The sun," said Mick.
"Correct!" said Mrs G.
"Bank!" said Mike.
"Wayne, what what kind of animal goes 'quack''?"
"Um..." said Wayne.
"Too slow, the answer's a mouse, stupid!" said Mrs G.
This went on for ninety seconds, until Mrs G's alarm clock went off and the round ended.
"So then," said Mrs G, casting a beady eye round the contestants. "Who's the biggest dunderhead in the cafe? Who forgot to bring their brain with them today? Which wazzock hasn't been pulling their weight..."
"Just a minute," said Mick. "I thought this game was called 'Meal or No Meal - in other words, a take-off of 'Deal or No Deal'! Hence your Noel Edmonds outfit!"
"That's right!" said Mrs Greasy.
"But at the beginning you said there weren't any questions!" said Des.
"Umm..." said Mrs G.
"You've got your game shows in a muddle!" said Mick. "You're playing this like 'The Weakest Link'!"
"Ah, well, the thing is, I've never actually watched 'Deal or No Deal', so I don't know how the game works," said Mrs Greasy.
Groans from all round.
"I've only ever watched it once," said Des, "just to see if my idol was on it."
"And was he?" said Mick.
"No," said Des. "Whatever happened to Mr Blobby?... Anyway, Mrs Greasy, I think you're supposed to say things like 'this has got to be the most remarkable game we've ever played ever in the history of mankind'."
"Whatever," said Mrs Greasy. "'Deal or No Deal', 'The Weakest Link', it's all the same thing anyway. Now can we get back to the game? It's time to vote off The Weakest...umm, no that's not right... it's time to ask the question - Meal or No Meal...ah, I'm starting to see your point..."
Just then the telephone rang.
"Excuse me one moment," said Mrs Greasy.
"Ah, that'll be the banker!" said Des.
"What are you talking about?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. She answered the telephone. "Hello? Yes? ...no, I'm sorry I'm busy, I haven't got time to discuss my account now..."
There were sniggers from all round.
"What offer did he make you?!" laughed Des when she finished her call.
"A low interest account," said Mrs Greasy. "What's so funny?!?!"
Despite these hiccups, the game progressed to the end, and unfortunately due to the impossibly easy questions which even Des knew the answers to, Des ended up winning, and was presented with his prize, a delicious plate of Mrs Greasy's mashed potato which he only had to pay £1.50 for.
"Well I think that all went extremely well!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Never mind that, this has given me a superb idea!" said Mike the Manic Mechanic.
Later that day, Des and Mick were still hanging around the cafe since their first media studies lecture had been cancelled yet again, when a strange person wearing a garish dress and a massive white wig walked into the cafe.
"All right chuck!!" said the newcomer in a comedy Scouse accent.
"What are you dressed like that for, Mike?" asked Mick.
"Come on over to my garage, and you'll find out!!" said Mike.
Des and Mick did so, and in Mike's forecourt was the same double decker desk construction that Mike had borrowed off Farmer Files, but this time sitting on it were six random people, mainly members of Mike's band and other acquaintances of his, dressed as various celebrities.
"You two, sit over there!" said Mike, pointing at another desk with a circle and a triangle drawn on the front.
"What's all this in aid of?!" said Des.
"I think we can probably guess," sighed Mick.
"All right chuck!" said Mike. "Welcome to another edition of 'Mikety Mike'!!!"
Mike switched a tape recorder on, and out came the 'Blankety Blank' theme tune, only with Mike speaking the word 'Mike' over the top of every 'Blank'.
"My name's Mikey Savage, and I'm from Liverpool!! I don't get back there much these days, although I do like to go back now and again, just to visit my hubcaps!!!"
He played some canned laughter from his tape recorder.
"Now let's meet our celebrity panel this week! We've got top astronomer, Patrick Moore!! Doggy lady, Barbara Woodhouse!! Popular naturist David Bellamy!! Actress, Lorraine Chase!! Some bloke off a soap opera you've never 'eard of before!! And 'Hi-de-Hi' star Su Pollard!!! But now let's introduce our contestants - Des and Mick!!! Hi there Des, what's your name?!"
"Des," said Des.
"And I hear your hobbies are hand gliding and water-skiing," said Mikey.
"No," said Des.
"Presumably not at the same time!!!!" laughed Mikey, playing in some canned laughter. "And our other contestant is Mick. Now before we play the game, let's see what we have up for grabs as this week's star prize! Yes, for 350 Mikes, you can win this amazing-ish 1982 Capri 1.6 L, which comes with a superb brake fluid warning indicator and both front and rear suspension!!!"
"Whoopee," sighed Des.
"Des, you won the toss backstage, so you get to play first!" said Mikey. (Des didn't remember winning a toss backstage - in fact, there wasn't even a stage to be round the back of). "Now here's your question. The popular disc jockey Sir Jimmy Savage was paying a visit to top local garage Mike's Manic Motors in order to view a whole range of quality fast Fords at remarkably affordable prices!! But when the hugely talented and handsome owner Mike the Manic Mechanic saw him, he gasped and said 'Blimey, you're the tenth ex-Radio 1 DJ to visit today - this has got to be a...MIKE'!!!"
"What????" said Des, confused.
"You have to fill in the mike, you know, the missing word!!" said Mikey. "Remember, the clue is in the question!!" He gave the panel some time to write down their answers, and then he repeated the question.
"Ummm...I know!" said Des. "Mazing."
"What?!?!?" said Mikey, confused. "Mazing?! That's not even a word!!"
"It works though!" said Des. "'This has got to be a-mazing'!!"
"Do you know what the answer was supposed to be?!!" groaned Mikey. "'Wind-up'!! 'This has to got be a wind-up'!! I said the clue was in the question, didn't I?! Wind-up, wind-up gramophone, gramophone record, disc jockey, Sir Jimmy Savage!! GEDDIT?!?!?!"
"Who's Sir Jimmy Savage?" said Des.
"Oh never mind," sighed Mikey.
Yet incredibly, four of the six members of the celebrity panel had written down the same silly answer as Des. And so by the end of the game Des had found himself the victor once again, but only won himself an old exhaust pipe for 50 Mikes in the Supermatch.
When the game was over, Des and Mick walked back along the road to their houses.
"Quite how Mike thinks he can attract more customers to his garage by offering rusty old exhaust pipes as prizes, I don't know," sighed Des, dumping the thing in Clive's front garden.
When Des got back to his house, he was rather alarmed to see that Dickie the Vicar was standing on his doorstep.
"Oh no," groaned Des. "So what game show have you got lined up for us then? 'The Priest is Right'? 'Churchphrase'?! 'Wheel of Font-une'?!?!"
"Game show?!" said Dickie. "Don't be ridiculous Nicholas, I wouldn't lower myself to hosting something as tacky and puerile as a game show!!"
"Thank goodness for that," said Des.
"No, instead you're invited to get involved with the first ever episode of 'Dickie and Dom in da Church Hall'!!!" said Dickie. "Presented by myself Dickie the Vicar, and my nephew Dominic!! Lots of fun, games and gunge!! A fantastic round of Bishop Bogies!! And the Prize Verger will be around as well!! That's all in 'Dickie and Dom in da Church Hall', tonight at 7.30!! (It's in the church hall, by the way)."
Having endured Dickie's night of fun, games and gunge, Des and Mick arrived at the cafe the next morning, relieved to find that the tables were back in the usual place, and that Mrs Greasy had discarded the Noel Edmonds look. Clive was also present, and he was showing the others an expensive-looking crystal glass bowl.
"Where's he been recently?" said Des. "What's he doing with that thing?!"
"'He' has just won 'Mastermind!" said Clive. "This is my prize!!"
"You won 'Mastermind'?!?!" exclaimed Des. "Don't tell me, 'Mastermind' hosted by Wayne Coach."
"No, the real thing, obviously," said Clive. "It was on BBC2 last night. I'm this year's champion, with my specialist subject, 'The Life and Works of Guillaume Dufay, Renaissance Composer, 1397-1474'."
"And I would have seen it if I hadn't have been stuck getting covered in dirty norris in 'Dickie and Dom in da Church Hall'," moaned Mick.
"Pfht, so what Clive, I won 'Meal or No Meal' and 'Mikety Mike'!" said Des. "So there!"
"And I lost," said Mick. "Anyone want this 'Mikety Mike' chequebook and pen?"
"I'll swap it for an exhaust pipe," said Clive.
Copyright © Robert Williams
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