by Robert Williams
"I can't understand why you insist on dragging me along," moaned Mick. "I don't want to go!!"
"It's about time you did!" said Des, as he drove the pair of them up to Farmer Files's farm. "Ever since you enrolled at the University of Pig, you haven't turned up to a single lecture (all two of them)!! You'll never pass your exams at this rate!!"
"I didn't even want to enrol, did I?!" exclaimed Mick. "I'm not interested in media studies, especially not as taught by Farmer Files!!"
"Typical work-shy student, that's what you are," said Des. "Look, I've even done my thesis that had to be in today, you know, the one titled 'A Contextual Examination Into The Indeterminate Theology Of A Dogmatic Existential Hedonism Expressed By A Grandiose Ascetic And Nihilistic Idiom In 'Chucklevision''."
Mick tutted. However as they pulled into Files's farmyard - sorry, the campus of the University of Pig - they found that all of the signs had been taken down. Instead, they were shocked to see some burly security guards guarding a newly-installed metal staircase, which led up to a newly-created heavy metal door, situated high up on the outbuilding which had previously served as their halls of residence, and before that had been their safehouse when they were spies for PI6.
"What's going on?!" said Des, as they got out of his car.
"Up there!" said one of the burly security guards, pointing his thumb up at the steps. Not wanting to incur his wrath, Des and Mick did as they were instructed. When they reached the top, they found themselves at the new door into the outbuilding.
"Why on earth has he put this new door so high up?!" said a confused Des.
They pushed the big metal door open and walked inside. The door slammed shut behind them. Des and Mick found themselves at the top of another staircase, which was also brand new and gleaming bright white. In fact it was so bright, they had to quickly put their sunglasses on, which they handily happened to have with them.
"I don't believe it," said Des. "Farmer Files has had this place completely refitted!"
"Don't tell me he's actually been spending money?!" exclaimed Mick.
They walked down these stairs, which led all the way back down to ground level.
"So, um, what actually was the point of all those stairs then?!" said a still confused Des.
They took their sunglasses off, and looked around in awe. The building had indeed been completely refitted and redecorated, and was now divided into several rooms. The main room was decorated and furnished in a cool, contemporary style. In the middle, there was a bright red space-age sofa, with a coffee table in the middle. To the side was a fully fitted, modern kitchen.
As they peered into the different rooms, they found a bedroom, with thirteen beds contained within, and a shower room. But the smallest room of all was something of a mystery. Des and Mick were bemused to see that all there was inside it was a bizarre-looking bright red chair with a television camera pointing at it, some pints of milk and some cheese.
"Something very strange is going on here," muttered Mick, as they went back into the main room. "I don't like it. I think we should get out of here!"
"Why?" said Des. "It's nice here!"
He dumped his university books and folders down onto the coffee table, and plumped himself on the sofa.
"Hmmm, comfy!" said Des. He plonked his legs onto the sofa, lay down and started relaxing. However as he peered up at the ceiling, he saw something that alarmed him. "Oh my god!! Look up there!! Cameras! Loads of cameras!! And they're all pointing at us!!!" He leapt off the sofa.
"Oh no," groaned Mick.
"I think we're being watched!!" said the ever-perceptive Des. "I don't like it! I think we should get out of here!!"
He collected his things, and the pair of them hurried off up the staircase, with the cameras following them around all the time. But before they could reach the top, the sound of horrible dance music suddenly came from nowhere, filling the building.
"OUCH!!!" exclaimed Des, clapping his hands over his ears. "WHAT'S THAT RACKET?!?!"
"I'm sure I've heard it before somewhere!!" shouted Mick.
And then to make matters worse, over the top of the music came an incredibly loud, booming voice.
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!!!" exclaimed the voice, who was obviously Farmer Files. "WHERE DO YOU TWO THINK YOU BE GOIN'?!?!"
"Home!!" shouted Des. "I'm officially resigning from your university!!"
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!!! THE UNIVERSI'Y OF PIG 'AS ALREADY CLOSED DOWN!! NOW GO AND BE SITTIN' DOWN!!!"
Des and Mick meekly walked back down the stairs and sat down on the sofa as they were told.
"Now would you mind telling us exactly what is going on?!" said Mick.
"And would you mind turning the volume down as well?!!" said Des.
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!!!" exclaimed the voice, not turning the volume down. "THIS BE BIG FARMER!!!! AND YOU, DES AND MICK, BE THE FIRST TWO CONTESTANTS TO ENTER THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE!!!!"
"Oh no!" groaned Mick, his heart sinking.
"Eh??? I don't understand?! What is he going on about?!" said Des.
"Des, don't the numbers on your television go up as far as four?" sighed Mick.
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!!!" exclaimed the disembodied voice of Big Farmer. "YOU TWO NOW BE ENSCONCED IN THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE FOR THIR'EEN WEEKS, OR UNTIL YOU BE VOTED OUT!!!!"
"Thirteen weeks?!?!?!" exclaimed Mick.
"Don't worry," whispered Des to Mick. "I have a plan to get us out of here." Mick groaned. "We'll wait until nightfall, then I'll ring up Mike the Manic Mechanic and get him to come round in a fire engine and rescue us..."
But just then Des's plan was dealt a bitter blow when Mike the Manic Mechanic came in through the high-level door and walked down the stairs.
"Hi there Des and Mick!!" said Mike. "What are you doing here?!"
"What are you doing here?!" said Mick.
"Farmer Files told me he had a combine harvester he wanted fixing!" said Mike.
"You've been conned," said Mick. "Like us. You've just walked into a game show."
"Well obviously I know that now!" said Mike. "I can tell by that dance music that keeps looping round and round! This is quite obviously Farmer Files's own reality show, 'Big Farmer'!"
"Oh yes, of course, I could have told you that," lied Des.
"Love this swanky decor!" exclaimed Mike, leaping onto the space-age sofa. "I think we're going to have a fantastic time here!! And just think, for thirteen weeks we won't have to suffer Mrs Greasy's cooking!!"
Just then Mrs Greasy walked in through the door. Des, Mick and Mike's hearts sank. Moments later she was followed by Dickie the Vicar, and finally Wayne. Hearts sank even further.
"What was that about having a fantastic time?!" said Des. "Thirteen weeks stuck in the company of all you lot?! I don't think so, somehow!"
By now the annoying dance music had finally ground to a halt; unfortunately it was replaced by the annoying voice of Big Farmer.
"OOOOOH ARRRRRR!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer, his booming voice pervading every nook and cranny of the building. "ALL THE 'BIG FARMER' CONTESTANTS 'AVE NOW ARROIVED IN THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE!!! PLEASE BE TAKIN' THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BE INTRODUCIN' YOURSELVES TO EACH OTHER!!!"
"We already know each other!!" shouted back Mick. "Unfortunately!!"
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!! NOW LET ME BE INTRODUCIN' MOISELF!! OI BE BIG FARMER!!! OI WILL BE WATCHIN' OVER YOUR EVERY MOVE, 24 HOURS A DAY!!!"
"Whoopee, lucky us," said Des.
"IF, AT ANY TIME, YOU BE WANTIN' TO BE SPEAKIN' TO BIG FARMER IN PRIVATE, YOU CAN BE DOIN' SO BY GOING INTO THE DAIRY ROOM!!!"
"The Dairy Room?!?!" exclaimed Mick. "Oh, I get it now!"
"YES, OI WILL BE 'APPY TO LEND A CARIN' EAR TO ANY OF YOUR PROBLEMS!!!"
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!! NOW DURING YOUR STAY IN THIS 'ERE 'OUSE, I WILL BE SETTIN' YOU ALL A SERIES OF TASKS TO PERFORM!!! YOU WILL EITHER BE REWARDED OR PENALISED DEPENDIN' ON WHETHER YOU BE PASSIN' OR FAILIN' EACH TASK!!! SO NOW IT BE TOIME FOR YOUR FIRST TASK, WHICH, IF YOU BE PASSIN', YOU WILL BE WINNIN' FIFTY POUNDS WHICH YOU WILL BE NEEDIN' TO SPEND ON FOOD SHOPPING!!"
"Food shopping?!" whispered Des to Mick. "Oh great, even if we pass the task, our food will be ruined by Mrs Greasy who'll obviously insist on cooking it for us!! There's nothing else for it, we'll have to fail the task."
"Great idea," whispered Mick to Des in a sarcastic manner. "So what are we supposed to eat then?!"
"Don't worry," whispered Des. "I've got stacks of chocolate biscuits in my university bag!"
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!! NO WHISPERIN' PLEASE!! NOW WOULD YOU ALL BE MAKIN' YOUR WAY INTO THE BEDROOM, WHERE YOU WILL BE PLAYIN' DARTS!!!"
The motley crew did as Big Farmer instructed. Once they were in the bedroom they found a dartboard, a set of darts, and a set of Jockey Wilson fatsuits.
"What are these for?!" exclaimed Mick.
"OOOOOH ARRRR!!" answered Big Farmer. "NONE OF YOU BE MEETIN' THE LEGAL WAIST REQUOIREMENT TO BE PLAYIN' DARTS!! (EXCEPT FOR MRS GREASY OF COURSE)!! SO YOU MUST ALL BE DRESSIN' UP AS JOCKEY WILSON!!! GO ON THEN!!" They all put their fat suits on, apart from Mrs Greasy, as she couldn't fit inside hers. "NOW EACH OF YOU BE GETTIN' ONE THROW!! IN ORDER TO BE PASSIN' THE TASK, AT LEAST THREE OF YOU MUST BE SCORIN' A BULLSEYE!!"
"Thank goodness," said Des. "We'll never manage that! And certainly not wearing these daft things!"
It was Mrs Greasy's go first. As she was lining up her throw, Des briefed the others to make sure they failed the task, in order that they could avoid Mrs G cooking their food.
"BULLSEYE!!" shouted Mrs G. To the others' dismay, she had indeed scored a bullseye.
Mick was next - his dart didn't even hit the board. Mike also failed to score a bullseye. And so did Dickie. Then it was Wayne's turn.
"BULLSEYE!!" shouted Wayne.
"How did he manage that?!" exclaimed Des. "Especially since he wasn't even looking!"
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!!" said Big Farmer. "DES, IT NOW BE YOUR TURN!!! IN ORDER TO BE PASSIN' THE TASK, YOU MUST BE SCORIN' A BULLSEYE!!! REMEMBER DES, IT ALL BE LYIN' IN YOUR 'ANDS!! YOU DON'T WANT TO BE LETTIN' YOUR 'OUSEMATES DOWN!!"
"Yeah right," said Des. He turned round to face in the opposite direction to the dartboard, and went to throw his dart at the wall. Unfortunately at that precise second Wayne just so happened to walk right in front on him. Des's dart bounced off Wayne's fatsuit, and then bounced between Mick, Mike and Dickie's fatsuits before landing, to everyone's horror, fair and square in the dead centre of the dartboard.
"Bullseye," muttered Des.
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!" said Big Farmer.
They took off their Jockey Wilson suits and went back into the main room, where they found that fifty pounds' worth of food shopping had already arrived on the table.
"Excellent news!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'll get cracking straight away!!"
"Sorry," said Des meekly to the others.
It wasn't long before they were all enjoying (not) their tea, totally ruined, as always, by Mrs Greasy. Then they all decided to settle down on the space-age sofa to relax. Meanwhile Des quickly started devising plans for escape.
"Mick, I've got it!" whispered Des. "We'll wait till the middle of the night, then I'll ring air and sea rescue on my mobile phone..."
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer. "I THINK YOU BE FOINDIN' YOUR MOBILE PHONE WILL NOT BE WORKIN' IN 'ERE!!! OI BE 'AVIN' THIS BUILDING ENCASED IN A METAL FRAME SO THERE BE NO CHANCE OF YOU GETTIN' A SIGNAL!!!"
"Oh botherations, that explains why I can't pick up the racing results!!" said Dickie the Vicar, who was trying to tune in his portable radio without much success.
"'Ere, I've just thought of something," said Mike the Manic Mechanic. "Why isn't Clive here?"
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!" said Big Farmer. "OI COULDN'T BE TRACKIN' 'IM DOWN ANYWHERE!! 'E SEEMS TO 'AVE VANISHED!!!"
"Oh for goodness sake, Big Farmer!" exclaimed Des. "Can't we say anything without you listening in?!?!"
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!! NO!!! THAT BECAUSE OI BE BIG FARMER!!! OI BE SEEIN' EVERYTHING!!!"
Before long, everyone decided it would be a good idea if they just went to bed. And so they did. The next morning, they all woke up and went to have their breakfast.
"Our first full day then," sighed Des as he munched on his cereal. "Only twelve weeks six days to go. I'm bored already!! Which stupid television producer thought up the idea for this, anyway?! It has got to be the most stupid, ridiculous idea for a television programme ever. I reckon they should bring back hanging for television producers..."
Suddenly the sound of pigs oinking filled the room, to everyone's horror.
"WHAT'S THAT NOISE?!?!?" exclaimed Des. The sound suddenly ceased.
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!! EVERY TOIME ONE OF YOU BE SAYIN' SOMETHIN' CONTROVERSIAL, YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE BLOCKED OUT BY THOSE THERE PIG SOUNDS!!!"
"Oh great," said Des. "We're even being censored now!!"
"Well that was a nice breakfast," said Dickie. "I do enjoy a nice bowl of Kellogg's Coco Pops..."
The oinking noise was suddenly heard again.
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!! THAT BE GOIN' FOR BRAND NAMES AS WELL!!!"
"Anything else we're not allowed to say or do?!" said Mick.
"OOOOOH ARRRRRR!!! THE SCENE WILL CUT TO MOI PIGSTY IF THERE BE ANYTHING VISUALLY OFFENSIVE ON CAMERA, SUCH AS ONE OF DES'S TANK TOPS!!"
"I've had enough of this," said Mick, putting down his spoon.
He got up and walked into the Dairy Room to have a private word with Big Farmer. The place was now really starting to stink of mouldy cheese and milk that had gone off. Holding his nose, Mick sat down in the strangely-shaped chair and tried to make himself comfortable, failing miserably.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer's voice, somewhat less loud than it was in the other room. "This be Big Farmer!! What you be wantin', Mick?!"
"Big Farmer, I want to know, just what is the point of all this?!" said Mick, wriggling about in the chair. "What are you keeping us here for?!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!! Oi be getting' this oidea off Channel 4!!!"
"You don't say," said Mick.
"It be the best way to be makin' a stash of cash!!" explained Big Farmer. "You see, oi don't moind admittin', oi be a little short o' money at the moment!! So oi be settin' up 'Big Farmer' in order that oi can be makin' loads of wonga ou' of all the millions of phone and text votes!!!"
"Good grief," said Mick. "You're subjecting all of us to this, just so you can make a bit of money! How selfish!!"
"So what channel is all this going out on then?!"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer. "This not be goin' out on television!!!!"
"Riiiiight," said Mick. "So if this isn't going out on television, how is anybody going to know to phone or text in?!!"
Big Farmer fell silent. Mick had uncovered the fatal flaw in his plan.
"Does this mean we can go home then?" said Mick.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer. "Certainly not!!! Oi've got to pay for this 'ere conversion!!! Oi know what oi shall do, oi shall be takin' this format round all the different television channels!!"
"But that's going to take ages!! Years, perhaps!!" said Mick. "Can't we go home in the meantime?!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! Certainly not!! Now be getting' ou' of the Dairy Room, Wayne be wantin' a word with me!!!"
Mick tried to get out of the chair, but only succeeded in falling off. He scrambled out of the Dairy Room, and in went Wayne, who could barely contain his giggling.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!! This be Big Farmer!! What you be wantin', Wayne?!"
"'Ere, Big Farmer, I've just thought of this fantastic joke!!! What do yer give a sick pig..."
Back in the main room, Des and Mike the Manic Mechanic had been having a discussion over their breakfast.
"Mick, Mick, it's just dawned on us!" said Des. "Mike's just been explaining the rules of this show to me! It's so obvious!"
"That's right," said Mike. "If you want to get out of here, all you have to do is come across as really unlikeable..."
"Though quite how I could possibly come across as unlikeable, I really don't know," said Des.
"...and the viewers will all vote to have you evicted!" continued Mike.
"There are no viewers," said Mick.
"What?!?!?!" exclaimed Des.
"We're not on television," said Mick. "No one's watching us except for Farmer Files and his porkers. And we're going to be stuck here until further notice!"
Just then Wayne came out of the Dairy Room, still giggling away. They could also hear Big Farmer's voice chuckling from inside the room.
"Well at least someone's enjoying himself," said Mick.
They finished their breakfast, and settled down on the sofa for a few minutes. But the minutes soon turned into hours, and the hours into days.
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!!" said Big Farmer on day three. "MOI PORKERS AND OI ARE STARTIN' TO GET BORED WATCHIN' YOU ALL JUST SITTIN' ABOUT!!! WHY DON'T TWO O' YOU 'AVE A FOIGHT TO LOIVEN THINGS UP A BIT!!!"
"All right then," said Des. "Dickie, you smell."
"Fair enough, you're entitled to your opinion," said Dickie.
"Sorry Big Farmer!" said Des. "I tried!!"
A couple of days later, and the housemates were starting to lose track of time. However, they did know it was Friday, because Mike's super-dooper digital watch said so. And Friday was the day that they at last received something approaching good news.
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!" said Big Farmer. "WOULD MICK BE COMIN' TO THE DAIRY ROOM, PLEASE?!"
Mick did so. Unfortunately the place was now absolutely stinking of mouldy dairy product, so he had no choice but to hold his nose.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!! Please be sittin' down!!" said Big Farmer.
"I'd rather stand, if that's okay," said Mick, learning from past experience. "Can you get a move on, it stinks in here!"
"Oooooh arrrrr!! Mick, oi be pleased to tell that you that oi 'ave sold 'Big Farmer' to one of Britain's biggest television companies!!!"
"Which one?" said Mick. "Not UK Daft Ideas, no one watches that anyway!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! No!!! When oi be offerin' it to them they be turnin' it down, sayin' it be a totally unoriginal and derivative format!! (Oi can't be understandin' why!!!) Then oi be offerin' it to ITV, and they be acceptin' it straight away!! So from now on, you be going out on national television 24 hours a day!!!"
"Great, can I go now?!" said Mick, who was about to keel over from holding his nose.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!! Yes, but be tellin' the others that the first eviction be takin' place tonoight!!!"
That evening, all the housemates gathered on the sofa, as the first eviction was just about to take place.
"I hope it's me, I hope it's me!!" said Des. "No one likes me, I'm a rotter!!"
"You said it," said Mick.
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!" exclaimed the voice of Farmer Files - but not in his usual voice, no, this time he was putting on a stupid high-pitched voice. "THIS BE FILESINA!! YOU ARE NOW LOIVE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!! SO PLEASE DO NOT BE TELLIN' ANY JOKES!!!"
"Owwww!!!" moaned Wayne.
"OOOOOH ARRRRRR!!!" continued Filesina. "OI CAN TELL YOU THAT THE VIEWERS BE VOTIN' IN THEIR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS!! AND OI CAN TELL YOU THAT THE FIRST PERSON TO BE EVICTED FROM THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE IS...."
The six housemates all sat on the edge of the sofa, as tense as they could be.
They could hear lots of cheering from outside, but the housemates looked at each other in bewilderment.
"REALLY SORRY, VINCE!!!" said Filesina. "YOU NOW BE 'AVIN' ONE HOUR TO BE COLLECTIN' YOUR THINGS AND BE LEAVIN' THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE!!!"
"Vince?!?! Who's Vince?!?!" exclaimed Des, looking all around. "There's no one here called Vince!!!!"
"OOOOH ARRRRR!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer in his usual voice. "SORRY, OI BE FORGETTIN' TO TELL YOU!!! WE BE INTRODUCIN' SEVEN COMPU'ER-GENERATED 'OUSEMATES TO MAKE UP NUMBERS!! VINCE, GLORIA, TONY, MARJORIE, NIGEL, DENISE AND MURIEL!!!"
"I can't see any computer-generated housemates!!!!" exclaimed Des.
"OOOOOH ARRRR!!! OF COURSE YOU CAN'T, THEY BE COMPU'ER-GENERATED!! THE VIEWERS AT HOME CAN SEE THEM!!! OI WAYNE, GET OFF TONY'S LAP!!!"
"Eh????" exclaimed a confused Wayne.
An hour later, computer-generated Vince apparently walked up the steps. The metal door opened for a few seconds, and then shut again.
"Oh dear, oh dear," sighed Mick. "Looks like it'll be weeks before any of us real housemates get evicted."
The next morning, the twelve remaining housemates (six real and six computer generated) rose from their beds, ready for another boring day in the Big Farmer house. But Big Farmer had news for them.
"OOOOOH ARRRRR!!! OI BE SORRY, BUT OI BE 'AVIN' TO LET YOU ALL GO!!! THE CREATORS OF SOME OBSCURE PROGRAMME ON CHANNEL 4 CALLED 'BIG BROTHER' BE THREATENIN' TO SUE ITV FOR SUPPOSEDLY RIPPIN' OFF THEIR FORMAT!! SO ITV BE THROWIN' US OFF AIR WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT!! AND OI BE AFRAID OI CANNOT NOW BE AFFORDIN' TO KEEP THE SHOW GOIN'!!"
"Hooray!!!" exclaimed Des and Mick.
"This is excellent news," said Mike the Manic Mechanic, as they packed their things. "Now I can go ahead with this new reality show format I've spent the last few days devising. All you lot will be ensconced inside my garage for up to thirteen weeks, and each week the viewers will vote you off, one by one!! I'm going to make a fortune out of this!! It's going to be called 'Big Mechanic'!!!"
"Well you can forget about that!!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'm launching my own reality show, where all you lot will be ensconced inside my cafe for up to thirteen weeks, and each week the viewers will vote you off, one by one!! I'm going to make a fortune out of this!! It's going to be called 'Big Cafe Proprietor'!!!"
"Hey!!" exclaimed Wayne. "What about my new reality show??! It's gonna be called 'Big Winda Cleaner'!!! But I ain't worked out the format yet..."
"OOOOOH ARRRRRR!!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer. "YOU WILL ALL BE DOIN' NO SUCH THING!!! FOR AS SOON YOU 'AVE LEFT THE 'BIG FARMER' 'OUSE, YOU WILL BE TAKIN' PART IN MOI NEW REALITY TV SHOW!!!"
"Oh no, what's that?!?!" said Mick.
"'STRICTLY COME FARMIN'!!!" exclaimed Big Farmer. "WHO BE THE BEST AT MILKIN' A PIG'?! WHO BE THE ACE MUCK SPREADER?! ALL RIGHT MOI LOVES, GOOD GAME, GOOD GAME, NOICE TO SEE YOU, TO SEE YOU, NOICE..."
Copyright © Robert Williams
Random story: Des and Mick's Nineties Nostalgia