This story

DES AND MICK BECOME LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS

by Robert Williams

Dickie the Vicar made a guest appearance at the meeting in Mrs G's cafe one morning.

"Hi there Dickie, thanks for coming along," welcomed Mrs G, as the others applauded. "Glad you could join us!"

"Thank you, thank you," said Dickie. "It's a great pleasure to be here."

"No, no, it's a great pleasure to have you here," said Mrs Greasy.

"Shucks," said Dickie.

"Right enough of that rubbish, I haven't got all day, what do you want?" said Mrs Greasy.

"I've come to bring you news of an exciting forthcoming event," said Dickie.

"Fantastic!!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"Yes, this Saturday night I'm going to be holding a groovy charity disco to raise money to fix the church roof," said Dickie.

"Fantastic!!!" repeated Wayne.

The rest of the cafe groaned, not to mention the occupants.

"Everyone coming?" said Dickie.

"I suppose so," sighed Mike.

"If I must," groaned Clive.

"No!" said Des. "I can't! And nor can Mick!"

"What??!!!" exclaimed Dickie.

"We're going to be looking after a lighthouse this weekend," said Des.

"Eh?" said Mick. "First I've heard of this..."

Clive burst out laughing.

"Oh come on!!!" he exclaimed. "That's got to be the most ridiculous excuse I've ever heard!!!"

"Look Des, if you don't want to go to Dickie's disco, why don't you just come out and admit it, instead of coming out with the flimsiest excuse you can think of?!" said Mick.

"No, it's true," said Des. "My Uncle Barnacle Wednesday runs the last manned lighthouse in southern England. He's decided to take his first holiday in seventy-seven years, and he's asked his favourite nephew to take over for the weekend."

"Good grief," said Clive.

"However, he's on holiday as well, so he asked me instead."

"So where do I come into this?" asked Mick.

"Well, would you rather spend yet another tedious evening at Dickie's disco, or a fun-packed weekend at a lighthouse?" said Des.

"A tedious evening at Dickie's disco," answered Mick.

So that Friday morning, Des and Mick drove to the Dorset coast to his Uncle Barnacle's lighthouse.

"He hasn't got a television?" complained Mick. "You mean I'm going to miss 'Gardeners' World' for this?"

"Don't worry, Uncle Barnacle's got a garden," said Des. "Well...it's a window box, actually. And it's inside."

"Inside???!!" said Mick.

"And...it hasn't got any flowers in it..." said Des.

Soon they arrived at the lighthouse. Des parked outside the front door, and they got out of the car. An old man with a white beard came over to greet them.

"It's Father Christmas," said Mick.

"Don't be ridiculous, it's my Uncle Barnacle Wednesday," said Des.

"Ahoy there shipmates!" said Uncle Barnacle, shaking Mick by the hand. "You must be Des! 'Ow are yer?!!"

"No way!!" exclaimed Mick, taken rather aback. Des quickly butted in.

"No, no, I'm Des, don't you remember?"

"Remember what?" said Uncle Barnacle.

"Ummm...I've forgotten," said Des.

"Forgotten what?" said Uncle Barnacle.

"Yes anyway, my name's Mick, I'm Des's next door neighbour."

"Ahoy there Mick! Please to meet you! Oi be Uncle Barnacle Wednesday!"

"Is he related to Farmer Files?" said Mick.

"I hope not!" exclaimed Des. "Well if he is, that means I must be related to Farmer Files!"

"What a horrible thought," said Mick. "So Uncle Barnacle, I hear you haven't taken a holiday for eighty-seven years!"

"Ahoy there shipmates!" exclaimed Uncle Barnacle. "That be roight!"

"But if you don't mind me saying, you don't look eighty-seven years old," said Mick.

"Ahoy there! That be because oi'm not!"

"He's not eighty-seven years old, Mick, he hasn't had a holiday for eighty-seven years, stupid!" said Des.

"But...but..." said Mick.

"That be apart from the 'oliday oi had in the Algarve for three weeks in 1994," said Barnacle. "Oh, and the 'oliday we 'ad in the Bahamas in 1986. And Gerald, you must remember our family 'oliday to Great Yarmouth in 1947!"

"Who's Gerald?" said Mick.

"Well no, I wasn't actually born..." said Des.

"So you have been on holidays in the past eighty-seven years then!" exclaimed Mick.

"Don't contradict my uncle!" whispered Des to Mick.

"Ahoy there! You see oi didn't go on them 'olidays, did I?" said Barnacle. "Oi 'ad to stay 'ere, look after the lighthouse!"

"See!!" said Des.

Mick stood there completely confused. He at least realised that insanity ran in Des's family.

"Ahoy there, it be getting a trifle nippy out 'ere! Let's go inside!" said Barnacle.

They walked inside and found themselves at the bottom of a staircase. They looked up and saw the staircase winding up as far as they could see.

"Oh gosh, it's a long way up," said Des. "Have we got to walk up all the way up there?"

"Ahoy there shipmates! Of course!! Oi be walkin' up those stairs twoice a day for the last ninety-two years to switch the loight on and off!"

"That's a bit inconvenient isn't it?" said Des. "Most people have a light switch by the door."

"Des, this is a lighthouse isn't it!" exclaimed Mick. "He's talking about the big beacon light that goes round and round to warn shipping!"

"Oh yes..." said Des.

"That's roight, Leonard, you obviously know a lot about this 'ere lighthouse lark!"

"Well..." said Mick, shrugging his shoulders.

"Who's Leonard?!" said Des.

"Ahoy there! You obviously know what to do round 'ere! Oi be sure oi be leavin' this loight'ouse in capable 'ands while oi be on 'oliday!"

"Where are you going on holiday?" asked Mick.

"Ahoy there! Oi be goin' to St Lucia," said Barnacle. "Or was it St Albans..."

"Well I hope you enjoy it," said Des.

"Yes, oi've always wanted to go to Scotland!" said Barnacle.

Before he went, Uncle Barnacle explained to them exactly how to operate the lighthouse - and then he was off on his bicycle. Des and Mick were now in charge until Sunday.

Des stood there, looking all the way up the long winding staircase.

"I can't believe we've got to walk all the way up there, just to switch that light on," said Des. "Hey Mick, you don't fancy going up there on your own..."

"Des, he's YOUR uncle, this was YOUR idea!!" exclaimed Mick. "YOU go and switch the light on."

"Hmmm..." said Des. "Got it!"

He grabbed his coat and ran out of the lighthouse to his car.

"Where are you going?!" called Mick.

"Won't be long!" said Des. "I've had an idea! Put the kettle on for when I get back!"

"What's he up to?" sighed Mick.

Des returned some time later with a large contraption.

"Mick!" exclaimed Des. "Where are you?"

"I'm up here!" shouted Mick.

Des looked up and saw Mick standing at the top of the staircase, a very long way away.

"How did you get up there?!" called Des.

Intelligence was not a strong point with Des.

"I flew up, like a bird," said Mick.

"Eh?!" said Des.

"I walked up here, how do you think?!" called Mick. "Only took a couple of minutes!! It's not as far as it seems!"

"Well we won't have to walk up with this thing I've bought! Come down and I'll show you!"

Mick walked back down and Des unpacked the thing that he had purchased.

"What on earth is it?!" exclaimed Mick.

"It's a chairlift! You know, old people have them!" said Des.

"That's why you've bought one," said Mick.

"Haven't you seen Raymond Baxter advertising them?"

"Yes, but Des..." said Mick.

"No buts, come on, help me install it. Uncle Barnacle will thank us for this, it'll save him walking up all those stairs every day. It must be getting hard work for him, now he's in his seventies..."

"But I thought he was at least eighty-seven," said Mick.

"Stop rabbiting and help me set this up," said Des.

"Des, you've overlooked one thing," said Mick.

"What is it, Mick," sighed Des.

"These things are designed to go up straight walls!" said Mick. "This is a curved staircase! The whole building is circular!"

"Oh..." said Des. "So you're telling me I've wasted all that money on a stairlift that won't go round curves! You could have told me earlier!"

"You'll just have to walk up there," said Mick.

"Cor," said Des. "Well it's not dark yet, we don't need to switch the light on till later. In the meantime...what's on telly? Oh, I forget, Uncle Barnacle hasn't got one."

"Doesn't he believe in television?" said Mick.

"Of course he believes in them, he's seen them before!" exclaimed Des. "He just hasn't got one!"

So to fill the time, Des and Mick had their tea, consisting entirely of chocolate biscuits thanks to Des, and then they settled in a couple of easy chairs for the evening.

"Well this is fairly boring," sighed Mick after a while. "It's a pity your Uncle Barnacle hasn't heard of entertainment."

"Never mind, we can always watch the barometer," said Des.

So they did for a while.

"Just think Des, right now, Dickie's disco will just be starting," said Mick.

"I know where I'd rather be," said Des, chuckling. "These chairs are really nice and comfy,"

"Hmmm," said Mick.

An hour passed.

"You know Mick, I'm sure there was something we were supposed to do, but I just can't think of it," said Des.

"Hmmmm, dunno," said Mick, shrugging his shoulders.

Another thirty minutes passed.

"'Ere Mick, it starting getting dark, put the light on," said Des, who was semi-comatose in his comfy chair.

"Oh no Des," said Mick, who was similarly unwilling to move. "You do it, you're nearer the light switch."

Des sighed, and reached over to switch the light on. Another half an hour passed.

"Des," said Mick, suddenly. "What time is it?"

"About nine o'clock," mumbled Des, who was half asleep by now.

"You remember about half an hour ago, you switched the light on," said Mick.

"Vaguely," said Des.

"It just made me think of something."

"Hmmm? What's that?"

"We haven't switched the big light on!!!" exclaimed Mick, leaping out of his chair.

"Oh yes, I knew there was something we hadn't done," said Des, not sounding too bothered. "Go and switch it on then."

"No, Des, you're got to come up as well!!" exclaimed Mick.

"Oh all right, I'll be up in a minute then," said Des.

"Des, it's pitch black out there!!" said Mick. "We should have switched it on hours ago!! Come on!!"

Mick pulled Des out of his chair.

"Goodness knows how many boats might have got washed up on those rocks!" said Mick as they climbed the steps.

"Yes Mick," said Des, slowly walking up.

"And hurry up, at the rate you're going it'll be morning by the time we get up there!"

"It's a long way!" whinged Des.

They eventually arrived at the top. Des looked around cluelessly, while Mick pressed the switches that Uncle Barnacle had told him about earlier.

"Aaaarghhh!!!!!" exclaimed Des, as the huge light came on and shined right in his eyes. It started turning round.

"Is it working all right?" said Mick.

"Yes it certainly is!!!! That's bright!!" " exclaimed Des. He quickly shut his eyes, put his arm across his face and turned round.

As he moved his arm away and opened his eyes, he got an even greater shock as he looked out of the window. He saw, driving towards the lighthouse, an old Montego estate with a huge spire on it which had Wayne perched at the top.

"Oh no!!!" exclaimed Des.

"Des, what's wrong?" said Mick.

Des ran all the way down the stairs. Five minutes later, when he got to the bottom he threw open the door.

Standing there was Dickie the Vicar, Clive, Wayne, Mrs Greasy, Mike and Farmer Files.

"Hi there, land lubbers!" exclaimed Dickie.

"What are you all doing here?!" said Des.

"Could I borrow a cup of sugar?" said Clive, slightly ironically.

"There's been a power cut all across South London!" said Mike. "We were all dancing at Dickie's disco when the village hall was thrown into total darkness!"

"All was grim and depressing," said Mrs G.

"Much the same as usual, then," said Des.

"And then I thought, how Des and Mick must be feeling so left out about missing the disco," said Dickie. "So I decided to move the disco down here!!"

"It just goes to show," said Clive, "that Des doesn't have the monopoly on stupid ideas!"

"I have got a monopoly set, actually!" said Des. "I'm always the boot."

"We came in Dickie's churchmobile!" exclaimed Wayne. "I got to sit on top of the spire!"

"So without further ado, let's get that music flowing!!" exclaimed Dickie.

"We can't hold a disco in here," said Des. "There's no room."

But that didn't hold Dickie back. He slapped a Tommy Steele EP onto his record player. Mrs G, Files and Mike danced about, while Wayne started head banging.

Des and Mick felt like banging their heads against the wall. But things went from bad to worse.

"I've cooked up some bacon sandwiches for you!" said Mrs G.

And just when things couldn't get any worse, they did. Des happened to peered out of the window, and could just see Uncle Barnacle riding back towards the lighthouse on his bicycle in the dark.

"Oh no! What's he coming back for?!" exclaimed Des. "What are we going to do?! Uncle Barnacle's going to be furious! He leaves his lighthouse for a few hours and we start holding a disco in it!"

"It's not your fault," said Mick.

"But he despises pop music!" said Des.

"You call this pop music?!" said Mick as Dickie announced the latest hit by Mantovani. "Even Uncle Barnacle couldn't be upset by this?!"

"Ahoy there!!" exclaimed Barnacle, as he flung open the door. "What be goin' on 'ere!! What be all this terrible pop music!!"

Dickie ripped the record off and a deathly hush descended upon the lighthouse.

"Uh-oh," said Des. "Why have you come back so soon?"

"Ahoy there!!" said Barnacle. "Oi was 'alf-way to St Austell when oi realised oi'd left my cheese sandwiches behoind! Now would you moind explainin' to me what be goin' on 'ere?!"

But luckily Des didn't have to.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files, coming over. "Barnacle!!"

Barnacles gasped.

"Ahoy there cousin!!" he exclaimed, shaking Files warmly by the hand.

"Cousin?!" exclaimed Des.

Clive sniggered.

"Ooooh arrrrr!! It be years since we last met!!" exclaimed Files.

"Ahoy there!! At least ninety!!" exclaimed Barnacle. "We've got a lot of catchin' up to do! 'Ow be the farm these days, then?"

"Ooooh arrrrr!!! Oi've sold it, Barnacle!!"

"Ahoy there!! You're joking!..."

"I don't believe this..." said Des, sadly.

"I thought I detected a certain resemblance between them," said Mick.

"Yes but you know what this means," said Des. "If Farmer Files is Uncle Barnacle's cousin, then I am related to Farmer Files. That makes him my...um...well...great uncle...no...nephew....no, no...second grandmother..."

"What a bombshell!" exclaimed Clive, coming over.

"Ooooh arrrrr," said Des, sadly. "I'm going home."

"Pardon?" said Mick. "I thought you said something odd there."

"Ahoy there, oi don't think so. Well, oi'll be off then," said Des, walking out the door. "The rest of you lot can look after the lighthouse. Goodnoight. Oooooh arrrrr. Oh no..."


Copyright © Robert Williams
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