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CHRISTMAS AT DES'S HOUSE

by Robert Williams

"IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS!!!!" yelled Wayne, doing his Noddy Holder impression.

"Do you have to shout in my ear?!" moaned Des. "I know it's Christmas!!"

It was indeed Christmas Day round at Des's house. Wayne, Mick and Clive were also present for Des's fun-packed Christmas extravaganza.

"Let's have a party!" said Wayne.

"No," said Mick, wearily. "We've had a party every year since 1978. And it's always exactly the same. Des always wins pass the parcel, and it's always something he doesn't want. Clive always wins Trivial Pursuit because he knows the answers off by heart. We always have to let Wayne win musical chairs or he gets upset. And we're not allowed to play 'pin the tail on the pig' any more because of what happened in 1994 when Farmer Files brought his porkers round."

"Why don't you just play with your new train set?" said Des.

"All right then!" said Wayne. He got on the floor and started laying out the track.

"This is a very realistic train set," said Des, looking at the box. "All the trains are ancient second-hand ones from old train sets, designed to break down every three days. All the tracks have got tiny little leaves all over them and then every two months the whole system goes on strike!"

"Let me see," said Clive, taking the box. "Oh, I like this bit! When you've had the train set for five years, a model of John Prescott comes out of his little box, takes away the franchise and the whole train set ceases to function!"

"What do you think of your presents, Mick?" asked Des

"I like this book," said Mick. "'The Bob the Builder Guide to Replacing Guttering'."

"Do you like my new mobile phone I bought for myself?" said Des. "I've set the ring tone as the theme tune to 'The Two Ronnies'! Listen!"

"Oh switch that racket off!" said Clive with his headphones on. "I'm trying to listen to my new Gee Cees DB! I mean Bee Gees CD!"

"I thought that would have improved it," said Mick.

"Vorderman!" sang Des. "Smillie!"

"What are you doing?" asked Mick.

"Singing some Carols," said Des. "What time is it?"

"Almost one o'clock," said Mick. "Mrs Greasy will be here any minute."

"Oh no," said Des. "That's the one thing that always ruins Christmas Day. Christmas dinner."

"There's got to be a way out of it!" said Clive. "Why do we have to be subjected to this torture?!"

Just then the doorbell rang.

"Too late," said Des, resigned to the inevitable. "She's here."

"Sorry everybody, the butchers shop was just out of turkeys this year," said Mrs Greasy, coming through the door, her arms full. "So I've brought you all a nice rabbit."

Everyone groaned.

"It looks very big for a rabbit," said Mick. "I hope you didn't steal it from Teletubbyland."

"So what if I did," said Mrs G. "It's not as if the Teletubbies were going to have it!"

"I have a dream!" declared Clive. "One day I'll get to eat a decent Christmas dinner."

"Look stop messing about," said Mrs G, "we've got to get tucking into this, I've only got an hour as I cannot afford to close the cafe for any longer."

"Why do you even bother opening at all on Christmas Day?" asked Mick.

"Why do you bother opening ever, I think is the real question!" said Clive.

"I cannot afford to miss out on potential business!" said Mrs G. "Now before we start, I've made you these." She handed out some home-made Christmas crackers.

"I dread to think what's inside," said Mick.

"It's a cracker!" said Des, using the opportunity to do his Frank Carson impression. He and Mick pulled the first cracker. Inside he got a paper hat, a joke and a Mrs Greasy home-made chocolate bunny.

"What's this?!" said Des. "What's Christmassy about bunnies? Is that our theme for this year?"

"It was left over from Easter," said Mrs G. "Still, I'm sure it won't have lost its taste."

"Right...I think I might save that for later..." said Des, knowing full well he wouldn't.

"Read the joke out, Des," said Mick.

"Hang on a min!" said Wayne, getting a piece of paper.

"Why should you never play cards in the jungle," read Des, as Wayne scribbled on his piece of paper. "Because it's full of cheetahs."

Wayne burst out into fits of laughter and took several minutes to recover. When he had, the gang tucked into a thoroughly disgusting Christmas dinner, which was mostly burnt, and then moved onto the Christmas pudding.

"Have you put a sixpence in this pudding?" asked Mick.

"No, I decided to allow for inflation," said Mrs G. "So I put a two pound coin in it."

Without any hesitation whatsoever, Des, Clive and Wayne went to plunge their spoons into the pudding in search of the coin.

"Never before have I seen anyone go at Mrs Greasy's food with such eagerness," said Mick.

But the pudding was rock solid and their spoons pranged off it.

"Don't worry, I'll get my electric drill!" said Des. "I'll get that money out!"

But that succeeded only in denting it slightly.

"All right then, I'll get a mallet!" said Des. He did so, hit the pudding and it shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. Straight away Des, Clive and Wayne started crawling round the floor searching for the coin.

"Where is it? Where is it?!" said Clive on his hands and knees.

"I can't find it!" said Des.

"I didn't really put any money inside it, it was just a rouse to get you to eat the pudding," said Mrs Greasy. "Now you've broken it! That took me six months to make! Well look at the time, I'd better be getting back to the cafe!!"

She left the building to the others' relief.

"Phew! Has she definitely gone?" said Mick, checking the front window. "Good! Now did you get that Christmas pudding from Sainsburys?"

"Yes, it's in my fridge," said Des.

They warmed it up, and were just about to take their first mouthfuls of decent food when there was a knock at the door. They could see Mrs Greasy through the window.

"Oh no, she's back!" exclaimed Des. "What could she want now?!"

"Quick! Hide the pudding!" said Mick.

Wayne quickly shoved as much pudding as he could into his mouth before hiding it. Unfortunately he piled so much in he was still munching through it when Des let Mrs Greasy in.

"Wayne!!!" exclaimed Mick. He went over to stand behind him and stuck his hands over Wayne's mouth.

"Sorry Des, I left my tin foil behind, I'll be needing it for next year," said Mrs G. "What's wrong with Wayne? Why have you put your hands over his mouth?!"

Wayne tried to mumble something.

"Well...you see..." said Mick. "Um...er..."

"Wayne was just about to tell the funniest joke that's ever been invented, but we didn't want you to hear it in case you were laughed so much you weren't able to serve your customers back at the cafe," said Des. He could always be trusted to come up with the most absurd explanations.

"That's all right then," said Mrs Greasy. "Because if, just to take a random example, you'd been down to Sainsburys and bought your own pudding, I would not be a happy person!!!"

She collected her tin foil and left.

"That was close!" said Des. "Now where's that pudding gone?"

"Oh...er...I, er, ate it all," said Wayne, when he had finally managed to swallow it all. "Anywhere, here's that joke! Oh...I've forgotten it..."

They decided it would probably be best to abandon Christmas dinner, and settle down in the living room. Des slumped into an armchair in his paper hat with a box of chocolates.

"What shall we do now?" said Mick.

"How about a game of charades?!" said Clive.

"What's that?!" said Wayne.

"It's like 'Give Us a Clue'," said Des.

But they didn't play it as no one was willing to be Lionel Blair. So they just sat around for a while.

"It's three o'clock," said Des at three o'clock. "I'm bored. What's on Radio 2?"

"Time for the Queen," said Mick looking at the 'Radio Times'.

"The Queen?" said Des. "Why have Radio 2 taken her on? I'm sure she won't make a very good DJ! Can you imagine Her Majesty doing wind-up phone calls?! What's on television?"

"The Queen as well," said Mick.

"She's getting everywhere!" said Des. "Television presenting as well? What is it, 'The Queen's Garden Party' featuring QTV and Prince Blobby?"

"Switch it on," said Clive. "I never miss the Queen's speech." He switched the set on, just in time to catch the National Anthem. He immediately stood up and saluted, followed by Mick.

"Come on, stand up Des!" said Mick.

Des reluctantly did so. The pile of chocolate wrappers in his lap went all over Wayne's train set.

"Owww Des!!" complained Wayne.

"Don't worry Wayne, just pretend they're the wrong kind of wrappers," said Des.

"Shhhh Des, it's the National Anthem! Show some respect!" said Clive.

"Okay," said Des, saluting and in the process elbowing Clive in the eye.

Once the Queen's speech had finished they all slumped back into their chairs.

"Did we really have to stand up for the whole ten minutes," moaned Des. "I'm tired out now."

Several minutes passed uneventfully.

"I'm bored," said Des.

"Why should you never play cards in the jungle?!!!" said Wayne suddenly. "Because it's full of chinchillas!!!"

"Cheetahs!" exclaimed Des.

"Who are?" said Wayne.

Just then there was a knock at the door.

"Who could that be on Christmas Day?!" said Des. "Not Mrs Greasy again?!"

"I suppose I'd better see who it is," said Mick. "No one else is going to get out of their chair..." He went to let the mystery caller in.

"No, it isn't Mrs Greasy!" he called from the hall.

"I hope it's not Dickie the Vicar then," said Des. "The last thing we want is that old bore round here droning on at us...oh hello Dickie!"

"Merry Christmas everybody!" said Dickie. "I hope you are all having a groovy time. It's a shame you weren't able to make it to Midnight Mass. Pity, because no one else turned up."

"Isn't that because you held it at three o'clock in the afternoon?" said Mick.

"Yes, that's because Mrs Dickie likes to be in bed by eight."

"How is Mrs Dickie?" asked Mick.

"Not too fab," said Dickie. "In fact she's been feeling unwell ever since she tried one of Mrs Greasy's mince pies the other day."

"So you thought you'd leave her in her hour of need and come and annoy, I mean, entertain us," said Clive.

"Yes, I decided to come and remind you about the true meaning of Christmas," said Dickie. "After all, for most of us Christmas is a time for joy and happiness..."

"Not for us now," mumbled Des to himself.

Everyone dozed off as Dickie gave them all a sermon.

"I hope you all haven't fallen asleep!" said Dickie suddenly.

"Oh! No!" said Des, waking with a start. "We were...just closing our eyes to think about what you saying."

"Oh good, that's what I thought," said Dickie. "Anyway, I'd better be going, I've got to get back to the vicarage so Mrs Dickie and I can enjoy our favourite programme, 'Jim Davidson's Christmas Generation Game'."

"Sorry you've got to go so soon," lied Mick.

"Just one thing before I go," said Dickie, "I should let you know I'm holding an extra-special fund-raising Christmas disco this evening, in order to raise funds to fix the church roof!"

Everyone's hearts sank as far as they would go.

"It's going to be so fab!" said Dickie. "I've even got a groovy band to play some live! Tell you what, why don't I come and pick you all up in my churchmobile?"

"I can think of many, many reasons," said Des under his breath.

"I'll see you at seven then! Ta-ta!" said Dickie.

"Good grief," said Clive, when Dickie had gone. "What band could he possibly have got on? It's probably just Mike the Manic Mechanic's band."

"How are we going to get out of going?!" said Des. "He's even coming to fetch us! This Christmas Day is going from bad to worse! First Mrs G's Christmas lunch, now Dickie's Christmas disco!"

"It can't be that bad," said Mick. "It's not as if we've got anything better to do."

"It is that bad!" said Des. "I know what we'll do. We'll all have to develop a mystery illness between now and seven o' clock."

"Shouldn't be difficult after eating Mrs Greasy's Christmas dinner," said Clive. "But what if we don't?"

"Well...we'll just have to go out somewhere," said Des.

"But where?" said Clive. "There's nowhere to go! Everything's closed! Except for Mrs Greasy's cafe. And even Dickie's disco must be preferable to that!"

"We'll just have to go for a walk and pretend to get lost. Mick, you can stay here, and when Dickie turns up you tell him we've haven't come back yet."

"But it's getting dark!" moaned Clive.

"It's your choice!" said Des. "Go to Dickie's disco or get lost!"

"There's no need to speak to me like that!" said Clive.

"Well you know what I mean," said Des. "Coming?"

"Oh all right then," said Clive. He, Des and Wayne - who managed to tear himself away from his train set - left the house in order to get lost.

"This shouldn't be too hard," said Des. "It's getting dark now. We won't be able to see where we are!"

They began walking down the road. There were surprised to see a lot of people also walking about aimlessly.

"They must have been as bored as us!" said Clive.

"Or, more likely, Dickie's been round to everyone's houses," said Des. "Have we got lost yet?"

"No, I still know where we are," said Clive. "We're just down the road from the hospital."

They continued walking around.

"Are we lost yet?" whined Wayne.

"No, no, we're only in Kingsmead Avenue," said Clive.

"Good grief, is that as far as we've got!" said Des. "We'll never get lost round here. There must be somewhere we can go! I'm hungry, is the fish and chip shop open?"

"No," said Clive.

They carried on walking around the Tolworth suburbs.

"Are we lost yet?!" whined Wayne.

"No, I recognise this street, even in the dark," said Des.

"Yes, that's because it's our street!!" exclaimed Clive. "It's ridiculous going out with you lot! We can't even get lost when we want to!"

"Oh no!" said Des. "Look over in the distance! It's Dickie's churchmobile! What time is it?"

"Almost seven o'clock!" said Clive.

"Quick, hide round the corner!!" exclaimed Des.

Des, Mick and Clive ran off down the road and round the corner, and hid behind a pillar box.

"Phew!! I don't think he saw us," said Des, puffing.

"Um..." said Clive. "So do you know where we are?"

"Err..." said Des. They looked round slowly and found they were outside Mrs Greasy's cafe. She was waving at them through the window.

"Well done Des!" said Clive. "Let's hide round the corner, you said. You forgot that's just where Mrs Greasy's cafe is!! Now what are we going to do?!"

"Look, she's putting her coat on!" said Des.

"I'm very sorry you lot," said Mrs Greasy, coming outside and locking the door. "But I'm closing the cafe early tonight."

"That was a close one!" said Des.

"Dickie the Vicar's coming round any second to take me to one of his boring discos," said Mrs Greasy. "So I thought I'd go for a walk and pretend to get lost."

"That's funny, that's exactly what we're doing!" said Des.

"So you thought you'd pop round to my cafe," said Mrs G. "I'm so sorry about this. I'll let you have double tomorrow."

"Look, stop chatting you lot, Dickie will be round here at any second!" exclaimed Clive. "We've got to scarper!"

At that moment Dickie was picking Mick up in the churchmobile. By the time he had driven round the corner to the cafe, the four disco fugitives had vanished.

"Where are we going?" said Mrs Greasy as they ran through the streets.

"I don't know!" said Clive. "Anywhere where Dickie definitely won't be!!"

"The church!" said Wayne suddenly.

"Oh don't be stupid..." said Clive.

"No!" said Des. "He's right! Dickie will be round at the church hall! The last place he'll be will be at the church itself!"

So they stopped running, and walked to the church. They went inside, and sat down, still huffing and puffing.

Meanwhile, Dickie and Mick had arrived at the church hall.

"It's funny that everyone's gone for long walks and got lost," said Dickie. "Especially on Christmas Day. I thought they'd be excited about coming to my disco! Never mind, you can still have a fun-packed fabbo disco even with two people."

"Yes, great," sighed Mick.

"Tell you what, why don't you go inside and meet the band. I just need to pop over to the church and fetch the collection box," said Dickie.

"I think I've met Mike the Manic Mechanic before," said Mick to himself. But when he went inside he got a huge surprise.

A huge surprise was also what Des, Clive, Wayne and Mrs Greasy got when Dickie walked into the church.

"Hello everyone!" said Dickie. "I'm glad you all found yourselves. And I'm pleased you decided to come to the church to thank the lord for your good fortune."

"Des, remind me NEVER EVER to listen you again!" exclaimed Clive.

Dickie took the reluctant foursome over to the church hall where the disco was in full swing with Mick - and the live band, who actually wasn't Mike's band.

"I don't believe it!" exclaimed Des as they walked inside. "It's SLADE!!!"

"IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS!!!!" yelled Noddy Holder.

"IT'S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS!!!!" yelled Wayne.

"And so it is Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun! Look to the future now, it's only just beguuuun!! " sang Slade with the rest of the gang joining in.

"This has got to be the best Christmas ever, since last year!" said Des.

"If you thought that was great, wait till my New Year's Disco!" said Dickie. "I've got live music from Bucks Fizz!"

"Oh dear," said Des, sarcastically. "I think I'm washing my hair that night. Merry Christmas."


Copyright © Robert Williams
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