by Robert Williams
It was another ordinary day in Mrs Greasy's cafe. Des had a poser for the others.
"Who knows what next Monday is?"
"Uh-oh," said Mick. He knew straight away Des was planning something.
"The day after next Sunday," said Clive.
"Duh!!" said Des. "Of course it is! But what's significant about it?"
"It's the first Monday since last week?" suggested Wayne.
"It's Monday all day long?" said Mick.
"It's Ed Stewart's birthday," said Mrs Greasy.
"Oh, so it is, thanks for reminding me, I'd better send him a card!" said Des. "But what else is it?!"
"Go on then," sighed Mick.
"The answer is..." started Des.
"It's St George's Day, of course!" said Clive. "Do you think I'm stupid or something?"
"Well..." said Des. "Why didn't you say that in the first place then?"
"Just winding you up," said Clive. "So what if it is St George's Day next Monday?"
"No one seems to take any notice of it any more!" said Des. "After all, none of you except Clive even knew it was St George's Day next week!"
"Yes we did," said Mick. "We wrote down our answers on sealed envelopes before you came."
And to Des's surprise Mick, Clive, Wayne and Mrs Greasy all opened sealed envelopes which were on the table in front of them and took out pieces of paper with 'ST GEORGE'S DAY' written on them.
"You lot are no fun these days," said Des.
"So what if it is St George's Day next Monday?!" repeated Clive.
"I think we should mark it in some way," said Des. "But I'm not sure how though. Any ideas?"
"Why don't we 'ave a non-stop chocolate eatin' day where we just eat chocolate all day long!!" said Wayne.
"That's a good idea..." said Des, licking his lips. "No, that's got nothing to do with St George's Day! We must celebrate Englishness! We're all English, aren't we?"
"I'm not, I'm Welsh!" exclaimed Wayne. "Although I was born in Essex and me mum and dad are from Ilford..."
"So how exactly do you suggest we celebrate Englishness?" said Clive. "What is Englishness anyway?"
"I dunno," said Des. "Fish and chips."
"Country pubs," said Clive.
"Red phone boxes," said Mick.
"Football hooligans," said Mrs Greasy.
"England is a country where our religion is game shows," said Clive, "and our god is Chris Tarrant!"
The others looked at Clive in bemusement
"Well...whatever Clive is talking about, that should have given us a few ideas already," said Des.
"Has it?!" said Mick. "So are you saying we should celebrate St George's Day by eating some fish and chips down the pub and then go and smash up a phone box?"
"Hmmm, no, that's not a very good idea," said Des. "I think instead we should hold a pageant over the park at 11.00 by staging a re-enactment of the St George and the dragon story."
"Who's been stringing us along now?!" said Mick. "He's already planned it!"
"Ha, ha," chuckled Des. "Obviously, I'm playing St George, and the rest of you are playing the dragon."
"Now just hold on a minute there," said Clive. "How come it's always you who decides who's playing what?! I think we should have a vote!"
"Democracy stinks," said Des.
Of the five occupants of the cafe, two voted for Des to play St George, one for Clive, one for Mickey Mouse and the other two couldn't count.
"A victory for democracy!" proclaimed the triumphant Des.
"Gosh, look at the time!" said Mrs G suddenly. She disappeared into the kitchen.
"By the way," said Mick, "where are you going to get a dragon from?"
"I have contacts," said Des.
"And a suit of armour?" said Mick. "And a horse!"
Des tapped his nose and smiled.
"So that's decided then," said Des, "our pageant starring ME as St George and you lot as the dragon, to be held over the park, next Tuesday!"
"Next Tuesday?" said Clive. "But St George's Day is on Monday!"
"Well, you see, the thing is..."
Suddenly Dickie walked into the cafe.
"Hi groovers!" he exclaimed. "Hi Des! Have you changed your mind yet?"
"Umm no, Dickie, oh look, is that the time, I must be going!" said Des, getting up hurriedly.
"I'll let you go at the front of the dragon if that makes any difference!!" said Dickie.
"No thank you!!" said Des, rushing out the cafe. "Goodbye!!"
"What's up with him?" said Mick.
"I don't know, I only asked him if he'd changed his mind about taking part in my re-enactment of the St George and the Dragon story!" said Dickie. "I'm staging it at the church hall on Monday night if you want to pop along! It's to raise money to fix the church roof!"
"I see now," said Clive.
"So that's where he got the idea from!" said Mick. "And that's where he's getting the dragon from!"
"What do you mean?" said Dickie. But he never found out because it was...
"Lunchtime!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, emerging from the kitchen.
It was the others' turn to make a quick getaway.
Late that Monday night, two shady-looking figures were hanging around the church hall.
"What are we doin' 'ere, Des?" whispered Wayne.
"I've already told you, we've come to borrow Dickie's armour and the dragon!" whispered Des.
"Won't it get angry?" said Wayne.
"The dragon!" exclaimed Wayne. "It might start breathin' fire over us!"
"It's not a real dragon, you idiot!!" exclaimed Des. "Now come on!"
They went round the back of the church hall with their torches and opened the door to the store room.
"That Dickie's a trusting fellow, always leaving the doors unlocked," said Des. "Either that or he just forgets. Handy, whichever way."
"Don't Vickie the Dicar know we're borrowin' his things?" enquired Wayne as they walked into the dark and dingey store room.
"Not really," said Des. "Anyway, he doesn't need them again until next year."
"Is that the dragon?" said Wayne pointed at a large cardboard object painted in green scales, with a head with red and orange tissue paper coming out of its mouth.
"No, that's the mouse!" exclaimed Des. "What do you think it is?! It's jolly big, we'll have to make at least two trips to move the other stuff. Now where's the armour..."
"Here it is!" said Wayne, pointing at what Dickie had used for the armour for that night's performance.
"No, that's just a useless pile of cardboard," said Des. Then he noticed a metal helmet placed on top. "Oh it is! Dickie's such a cheapskate!" He picked up the armour. "The helmet's real all right, but look at this!! Oh well, it'll have to do."
"What about the gee-gee?" said Wayne.
"That'll be this then," said Des, walking over to a rocking horse sitting in the corner. "Right, you carry the horse and I'll take the cardboard armour. Oh, and we'll need this sword as well. We'll come back for the dragon afterwards." They set about relocating the items from the church hall to Des's garage.
The next morning they all gathered at Mrs Greasy's cafe. Farmer Files had kindly given Des and Wayne and their horse and dragon a lift to the cafe in his Land Rover and trailer.
"What's it like out today?" said Mrs Greasy as they arrived. "I hope it's not going to be wet."
"It's not due to rain, I think we'll be all right," said Des. "Although I wouldn't have said it was particularly warm out."
"No," said Mrs G.
"But then I wouldn't have said it was particularly cold."
"So it's in between warm and cold, then?" said Mrs G.
"No, I wouldn't have said that," said Des.
"I like your comedy armour Des!" laughed Clive. "It looks pathetic!"
"Yes, yes, yes, I know!" Des kitted himself out in the armour. "But check out this proper helmet!" he said as he put it on.
Clive knocked on the helmet.
"Aaarghhhh!!!" exclaimed Des, whose head was now inside the helmet.
"Yes, that's definitely real," said Clive. "Not sure about your head though..."
The others were just grateful they didn't have to wear any costumes - although the four of them would have to spend the day carrying the dragon on top of them.
"Now come on," said Des, "we'd better be on our way to the park to stage our pageant!"
"It's not exactly a pageant, is it?" said Mick. "There's only five of us! Mike can't come because he's motor racing somewhere, and Dickie's already done his own re-enactment!"
Files gave them all a lift to the park. When they arrived at the park they unloaded the dragon and rocking horse. Files then drove off to do some entrepreneurial things.
"So where is everyone?" said Mick, looking around.
"What do you mean?" said Des.
"The crowd? The audience?" said Mick.
"Audience?" said Des. "I never said there'd be a audience."
"So we've just turned up here to play St George fighting the dragon for our own entertainment?" said Clive.
"I'm sure we'll gather an audience as we go along," said Des.
"What a missed opportunity!" exclaimed Clive. "We could have made some money out of this!"
They looked around and saw a couple of people walking their dogs.
"There's an audience!" said Des. "Well...two's better than...one... Now get under that dragon!"
He hopped onto the rocking horse and started waving his sword about as the other four stood under the dragon. Before long a member of the police force walked by.
"Excuse me sir, have you a licence?" said PC Plod.
"A licence for what?" said Des.
"Entertaining in a public place," said PC Plod.
"But we're not entertaining anyone," said Des. "See, we haven't even got an audience!"
"Yes you have," said PC Plod. "Me!"
"Oh..." said Des.
"I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to refrain from your activity and move on," said PC Plod.
"Oh darn," said Clive sarcastically, as they took the dragon off. "What a blow."
"But it's for St George's Day!!" protested Des.
"St George's Day was yesterday!" said PC Plod. "And I hope that sword isn't real!"
"Oh it is!" said Des.
The others held their heads in their hands.
"Real cardboard!" said Des. "Now where else can we hold our pageant that's less public?" said Des.
"Look, do we really have to do all this?!" said Clive. "There's no point to it!"
"Yes we do! Now my garden's too small...ah! I know!! Come on, let's go!! Pick that dragon up! Wayne, I'll let you ride the rocking horse!"
Mick, Clive and Mrs Greasy sighed, and picked the dragon up, while Wayne tried to figure out how to make a rocking horse move forward.
"Where exactly are we going?!" said Mick as they began to make their way out of the park.
"Forward, men (and Mrs Greasy)!" said Des. "We're going into the country!!"
"Oh no, that's miles!" moaned Clive.
"Precisely," said Des. "Miles away from anyone who might possibly be entertained by us!"
"It's all right for you, you haven't got to carry this silly cardboard dragon!" said Mick. "Where's Files gone? Can't he give us a lift back?"
"No, he's busy for the rest of the day," said Des.
"Can't we at least take your bus?!" said Mrs Greasy.
"We'd never fit that on it!" said Des. "We have to walk!"
"But that means we have to walk right through the town centre!" said Clive.
"For goodness sake, stop complaining everyone!" said Des.
"But everyone will stop and laugh at us!" said Mick.
"It doesn't matter if they do, you'll be hidden under the dragon costume," said Des.
"But then we'll keep bumping into people!" said Mrs Greasy.
Des sighed a heavy sigh. "Look, I'll walk in front and you three just stay right behind me at all times! Wayne, you stay right at the back!"
"Giddy up horsy!!" exclaimed Wayne, not going very far since it was only a rocking horse.
Before long the convoy, consisting of Des in his cardboard armour, a giant green dragon and Wayne pushing the horse, were walking along a crowded shopping street, doing their best to get in everyone's way.
Suddenly, Des's helmet slammed shut.
"Aaarggghhh!!! Help!!! I can't see anything!" exclaimed Des, wrestling with his helmet. "Help me!!! It's stuck!!"
Des staggered about trying to get his helmet up, while the dragon weaved all over the pavement behind him, knocking people over left, right and centre. Wayne just looked around and grinned.
Just then Des felt someone grab hold of him and pulled the helmet up.
"Oh thank you so much..." Des then noticed who it was. "Oh, hello, PC Plod! Look, see, we're not entertaining anyone, honest, we're just walking through!!"
"They're all laughing at you!" said PC Plod.
"People laugh at Des normally," said Clive from under the dragon.
"I'm afraid you're causing an obstruction with that dragon," said PC Plod. "And that sword is a danger to the public!"
"We'll be as quick as we can!" said Des.
"You had better!" said PC Plod. "Otherwise I shall have you listed as a menace to society!"
"Tee-hee," laughed Clive.
"Oh be quiet, let's get a move on," said Des.
They carried on walking for miles, right out of town, and soon found themselves walking down a country lane in the middle of nowhere.
"That's it!" said Mick, huffing and puffing. "I can't carry this daft thing any further!"
"Me too!" said Clive. "Put it down!"
"I think this makes a good spot for our re-enactment," said Des, who was also huffing and puffing. "Come on!"
They carried the dragon through a gate and onto an open field.
"Are we ready then?!" said Des, perching himself on the rocking horse once again.
"No, I'm exhausted! said Mick. "We've walked too far!"
"I agree! This has gone way beyond a joke!" said Clive. "There's no way we're doing this stupid re-enactment which never had a point to it anyway!"
"And I have a feeling we won't have to," said Mick. "Look!"
They saw a police car driving up the road. It stopped by the side of the road and PC Plod got out and walked towards them.
"Oh for goodness sake," said Des. "Look, PC Plod, we're not entertaining anyone! There's no one else for miles around!"
"It's not that this time," said PC Plod. "You're under suspicion of handling stolen property."
"This can't be true!" said Mick.
"We've just had a call from the local reverend. He's had a dragon, a suit of armour and a rocking horse stolen from the church hall."
"Ah, um, well..." said Des, spreading his arms out in a pathetic attempt to hide the dragon which was behind him.
"It weren't us!!" protested Wayne. "Honest guv!"
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to put you all under arrest," said Plod.
"This isn't right!" protested Mick. "Is it, Des?"
"There's been a misunderstanding. I demand to see the vicar!" said Des, taking his mobile phone out. "I'll ring him up now!"
"Very well," said Plod, "but I think I'll ring him, thank you!" He took Des's phone and hesitated. "Umm..."
"What's the problem?" said Des.
"I don't know his number..." said PC Plod.
"I've got it programmed in! Give it here!" said Des, grabbing the phone back and pressing some buttons on it.
"Hello, is that the Reverend Rogers?" said Plod. "This is PC Plod, I've got some reprobates here with your stolen property. They claim there's been a misunderstanding and they are demanding to see you immediately."
"That's the first time I've been called a reprobate!" exclaimed Clive. "What a disgrace!"
"This must be the first time anyone's actually wanted to see Dickie the Vicar," sighed Mick.
Plod told the others some gags to pass the time before Dickie arrived.
"What do you get if you dial 666?" said Plod. "A policeman standing on his head!!!!"
"Slower, PC Plod!" said Wayne, who was scribbling on a piece of paper.
"Newsflash: a hole has been found in the road. Police are looking into it!"
"It's a good job his jokes aren't funny," said Mick quietly, "otherwise we could have him arrested for entertaining us in public!"
Before long Dickie turned up in his churchmobile.
"Hello there everybody, nice to see you, to see you..."
There was an uncomfortable pause.
"Dickie," said Des. "We didn't steal those things, did we?! Remember, you told me I could borrow that dragon and armour!!"
"Umm..." said Dickie, trying desperately to remember.
"I rang you up last night and asked you!!"
"Errr..." said Dickie, scratching his head.
"Remember!! It was while you were watching 'Coronation Street'!" said Des.
"Oh yes!" said Dickie, breaking into a smile. "Of course! I'm so sorry PC Plod, I've made a terrible mistake, these people are completely innocent."
"All right then you lot, but just watch it next time!" said Plod.
"Phew!!! That was a really close one!" said Des.
"Hold on," said Clive. "How could Dickie have been watching 'Coronation Street'? He was putting his St George and the Dragon play on last night!"
"He wasn't watching 'Coronation Street' last night, he's never watched it in his life!" said Des. "Thank goodness we've got a forgetful vicar!"
"You mean you didn't ask his permission?" said Mick.
"He, he!" laughed Des. Mick looked at him disapprovingly.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed a voice behind them.
"Oh, hi there Farmer Files," said Mick.
"You be trespassin' on moi farmland!" exclaimed Files.
"What??!!" exclaimed Des.
"And trespassers will be prosecuted!! Ooooh arrrrr!!! Come back, PC Plod!!!"
"All right, you lot, I'm taking you to the station!" said Plod, leading them over to the car.
* * *
"I thought Files didn't own his farmland any more," said Mick, once they had got home from having a nice look round the police station.
"He's just bought it back as part of his latest venture, PIGfarms Worldwide PLC," said Des.
"Never mind that!!" exclaimed Clive. "That's definitely the last time we celebrate St George's Day!!!"
"At least we didn't have to walk all the way back from the country!" said Des. "Anyway, do you know what tomorrow is? It's International Noise Awareness Day." Everyone's hearts sank.
"I'm already well aware of noise, thank you very much!" said Clive.
"How are we going to mark that then?" said Des.
"How about shutting up!" said Mick.
"Oh yes..." said Des.