by Robert Williams
Des had taken his Fiat 126 into Mike's Manic Motors for its MOT, after Dickie the Vicar had given it a service.
"Really Des, I don't know why you don't buy a new car!!" exclaimed Mike the Manic Mechanic. "I've got stacks of clean motors on my forecourt!"
"There's nothing wrong with my car!" said Des. "I hope!"
"I never trust cars with the engine in the wrong end!" said Mike.
"Actually I did notice that caravan you've got outside," said Des.
"That old thing?!" said Mike. "I've been trying to shift it for weeks, it's blocking up my forecourt! No one can see my star motor, a 1973 Ford Capri, still on its original furry dice! One careful owner (and seven lunatics), serviced regularly (once every ten years), and a genuine 20,000 on the clock (all right, it's been round the clock eight times, but it shows a genuine 20,000)! I'm selling it for just £3500! Interested, Des?"
"Only in that caravan, can I have a look?" said Des.
"Yeah, I suppose so," said Mike. He took Des outside to the forecourt, past a tasteless bright pink Ford Capri, and over to the caravan. This had obviously seen better days - the paint was flaking and there was rust everywhere. Mike unlocked the door and they went inside.
"Cor, it's a bit musty in here," said Des.
"This is the first time I've been inside it myself!" said Mike. "I'm not really in the caravan business, I'm more into fast cheap motors, which reminds me, I'm flogging a clean 1975 Ford Granada coupe with superb reconditioned engine and bodywork - pity they're not connected..."
But Des was too busy inspecting the caravan to listen.
"I like these bunk beds," he said. "And this settee!"
"Yeah, great," said Mike. "The window lets you see outside...sort of..." He tried to open the window, which was encrusted with dust and could barely be seen through, and the handle came off. "Whoops!"
"There's lots of cupboards and drawers," said Des.
"Yes," said Mike. "Plenty of storage space to...um...store things in..."
Mike's sales technique was not so hot on caravans as it was on cars.
"Oh look!" he said, opening a cupboard. "A fridge! Urghhh!! Look! A carton of milk! Best before March '77! I'll throw that out!"
"Look in here!" said Des opening another cupboard. "A 1970s television set!!" He switched it on, and nothing happened. "Doesn't work, though. And I do like these 70s curtains!"
"It's like stepping back in time to the seventies!" exclaimed Mike. "So unfashionable."
"I'll take it," said Des. "How much?"
"I'll part exchange it," said Mike.
"I'm not selling my car!" said Des, firmly.
"No, no, what's that you've got in your hand?" asked Mike.
"A Max Bygraves single, I bought it at the junk shop down the road."
"How much?" asked Mike.
"A fiver," said Des.
"Done!" exclaimed Mike, taking the single and shaking Des's hand. "It's all yours! Gawd knows what I'll do with this record, though...could make it into a flywheel..."
Once Mike had given Des's car the once-over, and given it another year's reprieve, Des connected his new caravan to the back of his car and drove off to Mrs Greasy's cafe.
"What's that heap of junk that's just appeared outside?" said Mick, who was in the cafe with Clive, Wayne and Mrs Greasy.
"Whatever it is, the owner has better move it!" said Mrs G. "I can't have unsightly junk like that outside my cafe. It'll drive all my customers away!"
"What customers?" said Mick.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say it belonged to Des!" exclaimed Clive. His suspicions were confirmed when at that very second Des walked in.
"Hello! I've bought a caravan!" he proclaimed.
The rest of the gang groaned. They knew where this was heading already.
"And I suppose we're going to have to go on a caravan holiday then," said Mick.
"Hey, that's a good idea!" said Des. "I hadn't thought of that! Where shall we go?"
"Nowhere!" exclaimed Mick. "What have you bought a caravan for, anyway?"
"Mike the Mechanic Manic sold it to me in exchange for a Max Bygraves single."
"I wouldn't have said it was worth that much!" said Clive, when Des took them outside for a look. "At least it serves one purpose - makes your car look good!"
"I suppose to be kind, I could call it retro," said Mick as they climbed inside. "Very seventies - that's why you bought it, I suppose!"
"So where are we going on holiday then?" said Des.
"Wales!" exclaimed Wayne, who had so far not managed to get a word in.
"Wales it is then," said Des. "Who's coming?"
"Not me!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'll have to opt out of this one, I've got a cafe to run and I'm coming up to the busy period!"
"What, you mean two customers a day?" said Clive.
"What about you three then?" said Des.
"I'll come!!" exclaimed Wayne excitedly. Clive and Mick couldn't come up with an excuse not to in time.
Des booked them in at a caravan park, and so a few weeks later, Des, Mick, Clive and Wayne gathered early in the morning for their fun caravanning holiday to Wales.
"Hang on," said Mick as they got ready. "Where are all four of us going to sleep? There's only two bunk beds!"
"One can sleep on that settee, another in a sleeping bag on the floor," said Des. "I'll obviously sleep in the top bunk, since it's my caravan."
"I'm just not convinced this thing will stay together for the journey to Wales!" said Clive. "Oh, why have I got myself mixed up in this..."
Wayne opted to travel inside the caravan, highly illegally, so he could watch the television, while the other three boarded Des's Fiat 126 which was to tow the old wreck to deepest Wales.
"So what are we actually going to do on this holiday?" asked Mick.
"I don't know!" said Des. "It was your idea to go on a caravan holiday! What do people do on caravan holidays?"
"Drive slowly, blocking up the roads," sighed Clive.
"Good idea!" said Des.
They travelled round the M25, up the M40, M6 and then along main roads until they found themselves in mid Wales.
"These narrow roads are certainly getting very winding," said Des. "I hope I'll be able to get this caravan round!"
It wasn't long before they encountered a sharp bend. Des steered the car sharp left, but the caravan carried straight on, through an open gate and onto open fields. Wayne, who had been snoozing inside the caravan, awoke to find himself going very fast down a steep hill in the middle of nowhere.
"Aaarghhh!!!" exclaimed Wayne. He dreaded coming to the bottom of the hill, but luckily there was no obstruction at the bottom. Thanks to the momentum that the caravan had built up, it continued to roll at great speed across endless open countryside.
Eventually it came to a halt. Wayne, who had been hiding under the bottom bunk bed, cautiously looked out of the window and realised he couldn't see anything, so he climbed out of the caravan. He found himself outside a farmhouse - and who should come outside at that moment but Farmer Files and his farmer colleagues!
"'Ere!! Filesy!" exclaimed Wayne, feeling rather bedraggled.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "What be you doin' 'ere at our annual farmers convention?!"
"I dunno!" said Wayne. "Me, Des, Mick and Clive are supposed to be on a caravan 'oliday! But I seem to 'ave lost 'em!! I don't know what 'appened!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "You look in a roight state! Come in and 'ave a cup of coider and a bite to eat!"
As Wayne had a welcome bit of food and drink, Des and the others were driving along the winding country roads, oblivious to the fact that they were no longer towing the caravan.
"I must say, the handling's got a lot lighter these last few miles," said Des. "It's almost as if we've lost some great weight from the back!" They carried on regardless.
After enjoying a few mugs of cider, Wayne, feeling a lot better, emerged from the farmhouse that was the venue for Files's farmers convention and was alarmed to find the caravan no longer there.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed a farmer. "Lookin' for your caravan?"
"Yeah!" exclaimed Wayne.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!! Sorry, but Farmer Tiles needed to get 'is comboine 'arvester through so oi 'ad to shift it round the corner!"
Wayne went round the corner and saw his caravan parked perilously close to the edge of another very steep hill. Alarmed, he jumped inside, and his weight caused the caravan to start rolling down the hill.
"Oh no! Not again!" exclaimed Wayne.
Back in the Fiat 126, Mick was getting bored.
"How much further is this supposed caravan park?" he asked Des.
"Not far, in fact I think we're almost there!" said Des. "Just a little further!"
"I'm convinced something's missing," said Clive. "For the last half hour it hasn't even felt like we've been towing a caravan at all!"
"Oh...you don't think..." said Mick.
"What?" said Des. "Hold on a second, it's another sharp bend."
At that precise second the caravan containing Wayne came rolling down the hill, and just as Des's car turned round the bend, the caravan rolled through an open gate and connected back up with the rear of the car.
"Yes, what were you saying Mick?" said Des.
"We've lost the caravan, haven't we?"
Clive looked out of the back window.
"No, don't worry, it's still there," he said.
"And here we are!" said Des, driving through another open gate and onto a field where Des brought the car to a halt.
"Are you sure this is it?" said Mick. "This is your caravan park?"
"I think so," said Des. "Anyway, it's beginning to get a bit dark, we'd better settle down. Go and see if Wayne's awake."
Mick got out of the car and opened the door to the caravan. Out staggered a totally bedraggled and confused looking Wayne who was mumbling unintelligible noises. He walked round giddily for a bit and then collapsed in a heap.
"Cor, what's wrong with him?" said Des.
"Yeah, he's had the easy ride, relaxing on the bunk beds no doubt!" said Clive. "Not like me, stuck in the back of a cramped little car! Why can't you buy a new one, Des?! I saw Mike's got some pretty decent looking cars on his forecourt!"
"What's for tea, then?" said Mick. "Have you got something we could warm up quickly in the microwave? I'm starving!"
"I've got some sausage rolls," said Des.
"Oh great," said Mick. "Is that all?"
"Actually, just a thought," said Des. "Didn't Mrs Greasy say she's just had her hair done in a microwave?"
"I think so," said Clive. "By the way, have you noticed my hair's started waving?"
"Yes, waving goodbye to your head!" laughed Des. "Ha, ha! I'll go and put the sausage rolls on."
Des went inside the caravan, while Clive and Mick tried to bring Wayne back into the land of the living.
"Do you want anything to eat or drink?" asked Mick.
"No...thanks..." mumbled Wayne. "I 'ad somethin' just now...Farmer Files let me 'ave some cider..."
"Farmer Files?" said Clive. "What's he on about?"
"He's delirious," said Mick. "Take him inside."
They plonked him on the settee and the three got on with their tea of sausage rolls.
It was a good idea of mine to get rid of that broken television and put a microwave in its place!" said Mick when they had finished.
"Microwave?!" exclaimed Wayne, who had finally come back to life. "No wonder! I was tryin' for hours to pick up BBC2 on that! No point me comin' now!"
"We do need something for entertainment, though," said Des. "How about a sing-song?"
The other three groaned. But luckily they were saved from that fate - because just then they heard a depressingly familiar sound.
"Oh no!" exclaimed Des. "It can't be!"
They opened the door and saw Farmer Files standing there.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!! Hello Des!!"
"Hello Farmer Files," sighed Des. "What are you doing here?"
"Oooooh arrrrr!! We be 'olding our farmers convention at Farmer Jones's farm at the top of that there hill!"
"You usually go down to Dorset for your conventions!" said Des.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Now Wayne be tellin' me you be on a campin' 'oliday!"
"Allo Filesy again!" said Wayne.
"Ooooh arrrrr!! Oi'm not sure you can be stayin' ere, but since it be gettin' dark oi'll be 'avin' a word wi' Farmer Jones and oi'm sure 'e'll let you stay 'ere for one noight!!"
"Why, that's very kind of you, Farmer Files," said Des.
"Ooooh arrrrr!! It be a pleasure!!" said Files, walking off.
"Des!" exclaimed Clive. "You said you'd booked us into a caravan park! No wonder there's no other caravans here!"
"Well...we have been able to park the caravan here..." said Des.
"We'll have to move off in the morning," said Mick. "In the meantime we'd better get some sleep."
Des and Mick bagged the bunk beds, while Clive slept in his sleeping bag and Wayne on the settee. However they didn't sleep too well since some of the farmers at the convention had drunk a little too much cider and were staggering around the field singing the extended mix of 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm' for half the night, which went on to feature penguins, walruses, duck-billed platypuses and amoebas.
They woke the next morning to a strange sound.
'Uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh...'
"What's that??" mumbled Mick.
"Oh...my Teletubbies alarm clock," mumbled Des.
The alarm clock then went into the 'Teletubbies' theme tune.
"Aaarghhh!!" exclaimed Clive. "Get those Teletubbies away from me!!" He opened his eyes. "Oh, sorry."
"Come on, we'd better get up," yawned Mick. "What are we doing today?"
"Like Clive said yesterday," said Des. "Driving down country roads at 15mph."
The others looked unenthusiastic, but nonetheless after a bite of breakfast they set off down at the narrow winding road, driving at no more than 15mph.
"Where are actually heading to?" asked Mick.
"Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!" said Des, spitting all over Mick's face.
Before long a queue of traffic had built up behind them, honking their horns.
"Ah, excellent," said Des. "I'll switch on the radio, see if we can get on the traffic reports. That's my aim!"
He switched it on, but the only station he could pick up was Welsh-language Radio Cymru.
"Is Welsh one of the eight European languages you speak, Clive?" asked Des.
"No!" said Clive.
Nevertheless, they had a good day blocking up all of the roads, eventually causing a 20 mile tailback, unheard of in north Wales, and annoying hundreds of people. As it got dark, they parked in a field and settled down to sleep.
That night the caravan began to fall apart. First one side fell off into the field and then the other.
The foursome were once again awoken by the Teletubbies the next morning.
"Cor Mick, wasn't it cold in here last night," said Des staring up at the roof. "Still is!"
"Yes, and did you hear those two claps of thunder last night?!" said Mick.
"Certainly did!" said Des. He looked around and, to his immense surprise, instead of seeing of seeing the side of the caravan, he saw miles of countryside. "What's happened to the side of my caravan?! And the other side?!"
Des and Mick jumped down from their bunks, and stepped down off the caravan to find the sides lying on the ground.
"I think perhaps it's time we went home," said Mick, and all agreed. They lifted up the sides and fixed them back on the caravan.
"Let's hope they stay on!" said Des. "Come on, let's head for home!"
Once again, Des, Mick and Clive travelled in the car, while Wayne opted to stay in the caravan as he was still feeling rather tired. He fell asleep in one of the bunk beds.
As they drove back through the country lanes the caravan inevitably began to fall apart again. It didn't take long for the sides to fall off again, and they were followed by the roof which flew off on the M6 outside Birmingham, and finally the back which fell off on the M25.
Des, Mick and Clive remained oblivious to all this, and even Wayne did as well. He finally woke up on the A3 towards Kingston, and got a shock.
"Uh-oh! What's Des gonna say?!" Once they'd arrived back home, Wayne found out.
"Wayne?!" exclaimed Des. "What have you done to my caravan!"
"Hey Des!" said Clive. "You've got the world's first convertible caravan!"
"I dunno what 'appened!" said Wayne. "I was asleep!"
"Only you, Wayne, you manage to lose most of my caravan and not notice!" said Des. "Those bits could be lying around anywhere between here and Wales! What a nuisance! I really wanted those curtains!"
"Curtains??" said Mick.
"Yes, that's the only reason I bought that old wreck! I never even wanted to go caravanning! I just thought the curtains would look great in my bathroom!" said Des.
Clive and Mick groaned.
"I'm going to see Manic the Mike Mechanic!" said Des. And so he did.
"How was your holiday?!" exclaimed Mike.
"Great, except that the caravan fell apart," said Des. "Look at it!"
"Well what do you expect for the price of a Max Bygraves 45?" said Mike.
"Anyway," said Des, "while I'm here, I wonder if you could have a look at my car. The clutch is slipping, I think it needs a new clutch plate."
"At last!" exclaimed Mike. "I knew that Max Bygraves record would come in useful for something!"
Copyright © Robert Williams