DES AND THE TALKING TEDDY BEARS
by Robert Williams
For the second time in two years Des was awoken early in the morning by what he thought was the dustmen. So he eased himself out of bed, and saw it to be a delivery van.
"Oh, not more of Ralphy's train timetables," he sighed, going back to bed. Later that morning when he had officially arisen, he went out, as he always did, to see if anything interesting was going on. And something was.
"Des," said Mick. "What are two hundred boxes doing in your driveway?"
"They're just sitting there," said Clive, helpfully.
"I have absolutely no idea," said Des. "I haven't ordered two hundred of anything!"
"What about chocolate biscuits?" asked Mick.
"Oh no, I didn't order two hundred of those," said Des. "I ordered two thousand!!"
"Maybe they're some of them," said Mick. "The rest will probably be along later."
"Hey, you must be right," said Des, opening one of the boxes. "I could just do with some choccy biccies now."
However, he was not so delighted when he reached into the box and lifted out a cuddly teddy bear.
"Ahhh, innit cute!!" exclaimed Wayne.
"Teddy bears?" said Des, puzzled. "Have I been delivered two hundred teddy bears?"
They opened some more of the boxes - and in each was a cuddly teddy bear.
"There must be some mistake," said Des. "They've been delivered to the wrong address, surely!"
Mick picked up a piece of paper. "No, it's definitely got your address on it. Look!"
"Oh!" said Des, reading the invoice. "And they're not just two hundred teddy bears. They're two hundred talking teddy bears!"
Wayne picked one up and squeezed it. The bear promptly burped.
"Eh?" said Wayne. "Is this right?!"
Des checked the details.
"They're supposed to say 'hello'."
Des, Mick, Wayne and Clive tested out some more of them. All burped.
"Ah," said Mick. "So they're not just two hundred talking teddy bears. They're two hundred broken talking teddy bears!!"
"Oh this is ridiculous!" said Des. "The Post Office have made a major bodge-up here!"
"Maybe they've been sent by someone who doesn't like you very much," said Mick.
"That doesn't narrow it down very much," said Clive.
"But how am I going to get rid of them?" said Des. "I can't send them back, I don't know who's sent them!"
"You can't rid of 'em!" exclaimed Wayne. "They'll be dosh in 'ose teddy bears!!"
"There's no 'dosh' in them, Wayne," said Des. "Just a broken noise thingey. And anyway, who would want a teddy bear that belches when you squeeze it?"
"Oliver Reed?" suggested Mick. "George Best?"
"That's very helpful," said Des. "Look, I'd better get this stuff inside."
Once they had loaded the two hundred bears into the house, Des set about trying to get rid of the things.
"I know!" exclaimed Des. "Why doesn't Mrs Greasy give away a free bear for each customer?"
"But the only customer Mrs Greasy has is Wayne!" exclaimed Mick.
"Ah, but news of this free giveaway might attract more customers!" said Des.
"Sounds good to me," said Mrs Greasy.
Des delivered a batch of the broken talking teddy bears to Mrs Greasy who put a note in her window reading 'Free novelty burping teddy bears with each purchase. Only £1.50 per bear.'
"But if they cost £1.50," said Des, "how can they possibly be free?!!"
"I want to make something out of this!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
After a few days, Wayne became in possession of eight broken talking teddy bears, but no more customers came to Mrs Greasy's cafe.
"Oh this is no good," sighed Des. "There's a limit to how many burping bears Wayne's going to want."
Wayne was already irritating everyone by carrying his bears around with him and making them burp at inopportune moments.
"We want to try and get rid of them in bulk," said Mick.
Burp went a bear. The others ignored it.
"I've got an idea," said Des.
Burp went the bear again.
"Who ever goes to Surbiton Market?" said Des.
Again the bear burped.
"Well...lots of people, I suppose," said Mick.
The bear burped again.
"So why don't we take some down to the market and flog them down there?"
The bear burped once again.
"Brilliant, Des," said Mick.
Yet again the bear burped.
"WAYNE!!! OUT!!!" exclaimed Des.
Wayne and the bear moped out of the room, but not more Wayne squeezed the bear one last time.
"We'll have to get up early though," said Mick.
"How early?" said Des.
"Five o' clock?"
At seven o' clock on market day Des got out of bed and headed off with Mick to Surbiton town centre.
"See, I told you!" exclaimed Mick. "Everyone else has already set their stalls up! There'll never be room for us now!"
Des and Mick finally found a space right at the back of the market square where they set up their stall.
"We'll never get much custom stuck at the back here," moaned Mick.
"Oh stop complaining," said Des. "Here, I've brought along just twenty teddy bears, to test the water, see how the market for burping bears is faring in this economic environment."
"Get your novelty burping teddy bears here!!" yelled Des, once the market had got under way.
"Only £1.50 each!!" exclaimed Mick.
They demonstrated the bears to passers-by, who were either amused, or puzzled, or quite outraged. However no one seemed to want to buy - until Wayne came along.
"I'd like ten of 'em!!" he exclaimed.
"What?!" exclaimed Mick. "You've already got eight!! What do you want ten more of these stupid things for?"
"I don't care, just hand over the money!" exclaimed Des, taking Wayne's fifteen pounds.
Two hours later, having had not a single sale, Des and Mick decided that they had had enough. They packed up the ten remaining bears and headed out of the market square - and got a big surprise.
There, right at the entrance, was Wayne.
"Get yer novelty burpin' teddy bears!!" he yelled. "Only £2.50 each!! Oh 'ello Des and Mick!! D'yer want one?"
"What do you think you're doing???!!" exclaimed Des, outraged.
"So this is why you bought all those bears off us," said Mick. "How many have you sold?"
"I've got rid of the eight I got off Mrs G, and six more!!" exclaimed Wayne.
"This is why we've had no custom then," said Mick. "At least it's got rid of some of them."
"Yes," sighed Des. "Fourteen down, one hundred and eighty six to go."
Des and Mick decided to leave Wayne selling the bears himself, since he was making a much better job of it, and Des did not much feel like getting caught by the police.
But after three weeks it seemed the market for novelty burping teddy bears had dried up - and Des still had one hundred and sixty left.
"Everywhere I look, I see teddy bears!" moaned Des, sitting in his living room surrounded by bears. "I've got bears in here, bears in the kitchen, bears in the garage and bears in the toilet! And I only have to sit down or turn around and I hear that irritating burping noise!!"
He then heard the irritating burping noise.
"Put that bear down, Wayne!" snapped Des. "What am I going to do?! I've got bears on the brain and I'm fed up with it!!!"
It was not long, though, before Des's latest scheme had formed.
"You know all those radio stations and newspapers and things have competitions with really simple questions?"
"And they all say 'phone 0891 blah-blah-blah'," said Mick.
"That's right," said Des. "Why don't we set one of those up?"
"But no one wants to win broken talking teddy bears?!" said Mick.
"Say it's a mystery prize," said Des. "We'll say that the first hundred and sixty correct answers get invited along to a special do where we present them with their prizes!"
"We?" said Mick. "You, more like! I don't want to be there when the recipients find out what they've won!"
"Yes you do," said Clive. "Everything Des organises goes wrong! It'll be a laugh!"
"Oh all right then," said Mick.
"Now all I have to do is think up a really simple question that'll get everyone ringing up," said Des.
Des produced a newspaper advert, and put up posters all round the town publicising this one-off competition.
But after a week Des had not received a single call concerning the competition.
"I can't believe it!!" exclaimed Des. "Why has no one called?"
"Maybe it's your 'incredibly simple' question," said Mick. "'At what international motor show did the Fiat 126 make its first appearance?'"
"Yes," said Des. "Couldn't be simpler."
"Perhaps it's because the question leads people to think they're going to win a Fiat 126!" exclaimed Clive.
"You need a far easier question!!" exclaimed Mick.
"But what could possibly be easier than that?" said Des.
Des racked his brains, and eventually came up with a new question. New posters went up, and a new advert in the newspaper.
"What is Lionel Blair's first name?" said Des. "Now that is simple!"
And it was. Almost immediately Mick's telephone started ringing non-stop.
"I suppose this is your idea of joke," said Mick. "Putting my phone number down!!"
"Hey shut up, your phone's ringing," said Des. "Well, it's you who said I should have an easier question."
The question was so easy that all hundred and sixty bears had been allocated in one morning. So Des booked the church hall for the presentation evening.
All of the winners and their families eagerly turned up wanting to know what they had won, along with Mick, Clive, Wayne and the gang, wanting to know what was going to go wrong this time.
"So then!" exclaimed Des, dressed in his DJ Rick Metal suit. "Can we have our first ten winners up on stage!!"
He read out a list of ten winners, who came up onto stage, excited as anything. He handed each a box. The winners eagerly reached into their boxes, took out their bears and squeezed them - and their faces fell.
"What are you doing??!!" exclaimed Des, as the winners stormed angrily off the stage without their prizes. "Don't you want your novelty burping bears?!"
When the other winners in the audience saw what they were going to win, most of them also stormed out, leaving just a few, and a few non-winners as well (including Wayne who couldn't resist taking six more), who thought that burping bears was rather a novel idea. In the end Des found himself still left with one hundred and forty seven bears.
"Well there's only one thing for it," said Des. "We'll have to take them down the tip."
Wayne's face fell.
"Yer can't do that!!" he exclaimed. "You won't get any dosh doing that!!"
"I don't care," said Des.
Early the next morning Des loaded the leftover bears into his van and took them down the local dump where a big diggers was about to churn the rubbish up.
It was so early that when Des returned home, he was met by the postman, who handed him a mysterious envelope.
"What's this? From 'Toys R Naff'? How odd!"
He ripped open the envelope and read the letter.
"Dear Mr Wednesday, we wish to apologise for the inconvenience caused by us mistakenly delivering two hundred cuddly animal rejects to your address. To make up for this, if you return the bears to us we will offer you back the total value of the items..."
The others did not see Des for the rest of the day as he spent it down the local rubbish dump.
Copyright © Robert Williams