by Robert Williams
"I'm a bit disappointed now, that the world didn't end after all," said Des as the crew sat in the cafe the day after the non-event that wasn't the end of the world.
"Why?!?!" exclaimed Clive.
"Because it means we've still got to eat Mrs Greasy's cooking," said Mick.
"Well yes, but you also have to admit it's a bit of anti-climax," said Des.
"I know the real reason why you wanted the world to end," said Mick. "You've sold your car, you've thrown out all your chocolate biscuit supplies, and you've got a houseful of horrible PIGwear jumpers!!"
"Oh yes, that reminds me, Merry Christmas!!" exclaimed Des.
"It's not Christmas!" said Clive. "It's July!"
"Early Christmas present for everyone!" said Des, reaching in his bag and pulling out a package for each posse member.
"I have a funny feeling I know what this is," said Mick as he unwrapped his present. "Oh what a surprise...a jumper."
"Did you supply the paper bags we need to wear on our heads with these jumpers?" said Clive.
"No, but if you don't like them, Farmer Files will be delighted to offer you a full refund!" sniggered Des.
"Not likely!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Now onto more important issues," said Des. "I am now car-less."
Des had 'accidentally' driven the tasteless Ford Capri, which Mike had sold him in replacement of his Fiat 126, into the river.
"Well buy a new car then!" exclaimed Clive. "This is the perfect opportunity! It was about time you got rid of that laughable excuse for a vehicle! It's time you bought something more in keeping with the tone of the area. Like a BMW, of course, which is what all the classy people drive!"
"That doesn't make sense...you drive one..." said Des.
"Howzabout a brand new 15 year-old Vauxhall Astra GTE with colour coded windscreen wipers?!" exclaimed Mike the Manic Mechanic as he burst into the cafe.
"No thanks," said Des.
"All right then...a 1978 Vauxhall Cavalier coupe with fully reconditioned air vents!!"
"No thanks," said Des.
"Hold on a minute, Mike," said Mick. "You only sell Fords at your garage! What's with all these Vauxhalls?"
"Fast Fords are yesterday's news!!" exclaimed Mike. "You've got to get with it! Fast Vauxhalls are where it's at! So Des, what are you after?"
"A white 1978 S-reg Fiat 126," said Des.
"I don't do Fiats!" he exclaimed.
"In fact, I want my white 1978 S-reg Fiat 126!!" exclaimed Des. "Fiat 126s are very good cars."
"Des, come on, I can fit you up with a tasty new set of wheels!" said Mike. "You've got to move with the times, all the cool dudes are driving speedy Vauxhalls nowadays!"
"I never said I was a cool dude," said Des.
"No, of course not, how silly of me," said Mike.
"Trendy geezer, maybe, but not a cool dude," said Des. "Now how am I going to get my car back?!"
"Who did you sell it to?" said Mick.
"Some spotty college student who's just passed his test," said Des. "Who's just passed his test! Oh my god! He's probably crashed it by now!!"
Des leapt up from the table and rushed out of the cafe, just as Mrs Greasy came out of the kitchen with their lunch. Because of that the others decided to make a similarly rapid getaway.
Des hurried to the local sixth form college, and walked up and down the road where all the students had parked their cars. However there was no sign of his Fiat 126.
"Good morning sir," said PC Plod, who had been watching him for some time.
"Hello PC Plod, I'm after one of these cars," said Des.
"Are you now?" said PC Plod. "That's very enlightening! Any one in particular?"
"Yes, a white 1978 S-reg Fiat 126," said Des.
"That's very specific sir," said PC Plod. "Most car thieves aren't quite that fussy! A Fiat 126, you think that will be easier to break into?!"
"No, no, you misunderstand, I'm not a thief!" exclaimed Des. "I'm looking for my Fiat 126!"
"That's what they all say," said Plod. "Forgotten where you parked it?"
"Not exactly," said Des.
"Just remember, sir, I'm keeping an eye on you," said Plod.
Des decided he couldn't look for his car with Plod's beady eye staring at him all the time, so he decided to go and stand by the college gate, and look out for the student who had bought his car.
"Good grief, I feel like one of their dads, come to pick them up," thought Des. "I need to blend in a bit more." As it was some while before home time, he popped off to see Dickie the Vicar to borrow one of his baseball caps. Then he bought a rucksack and some shades - even though it was cloudy - and returned to his position at the college gate, just in time for the students to start leaving the college.
"Yo!" said Des, fully decked out in his cool gear, to some of the students as they walked out the gate. "Groovy, man!" He got plenty of strange looks.
Finally he saw the student he recognised. As he was about to walk out of the gate , Des leapt out at him.
"Yo dude, what's happenin'!"
"What?!?" exclaimed the shocked student.
"Sorry, it's only me," said Des, taking his shades off.
"Oh I know you," said that student, pointing at Des. "You're...you're...oh I recognise you...oh... um..."
"You're that old bloke I bought that rubbish car off yesterday!" said the student, finally.
"Rubbish?!?!" exclaimed Des. "My car - sorry, your car - is not rubbish!"
"Yes it is!" said the student. "In fact, it's so rubbish I only drove halfway down the road before I decided to sell it!"
"Oh!" said Des.
"I've bought a decent car now, a Nova GTE from Mike's Manic Motors," said the student. "Now that is cool!"
"Yeah, cool man, whatever" said Des. "Who did you sell the car to?!"
"My gran," said the student. "She's 97, you know."
"97?!?" exclaimed Des. "Oh my god, she's probably crashed it by now!! Where does she live? I need her address, urgently!!"
The student wrote the address down, and Des hurried off back to his house to drive to that address. Unfortunately it wasn't until he got home that he remembered he couldn't drive there because he didn't have his car any more!
"Oh botherations," said Des. "I can't go on the bus, it'll be next week before I get there!" He looked up and down the street to see if any of the others were available to give him a lift.
"Wayne's not in, he must be out window cleaning," said Des to himself. "Mick hasn't got a car, Mrs Greasy's only got a scooter...that only leaves...oh no, he'll never give me a lift."
Nonetheless he went and knocked on Clive's door. Clive answered, dressed in all his golfing gear.
"What do you want?" said Clive. "Can't you see I'm busy!"
"Clive, this is urgent!" said Des. "I need a lift to this address!"
"Sorry Des, I'm off to play golf," said Clive.
"Really, in all that gear I thought you'd be playing snooker!" laughed Des.
"Look Des, I haven't got time for your hilarious jokes, I'll be late for my meeting!" said Clive. He stared at the bit of paper that Des was waving in his face. "Oh...that address is right next door to the golf club...well I suppose you can have a lift after all."
"He he!" exclaimed Des, leaping into Clive's brand new BMW 735i.
"Careful of my upholstery!" exclaimed Clive in a worried voice. "Have you got clean trousers on?!"
"Yes I have!!" exclaimed Des.
"Actually, this could be a good thing," said Clive as they drove along. "Maybe this drive will tempt you to get your own BMW!"
"Naaah, I hate BMWs," said Des. "The people who drive them, they're all the same!"
Eventually they reached the road containing both Clive's golf club and a line of small Victorian houses, one of which would be the student's grandmother's house. Des disembarked from the BMW and went up to the house. He was a little bit concerned that he couldn't see his Fiat 126 parked anywhere.
"Maybe it's parked round the corner or something," thought Des. "Or maybe I'm too late! Maybe she's crashed it already!!"
He rammed his finger on the doorbell. But there was no answer. After standing there with his finger on the bell for five minutes, one of the neighbours spotted him.
"Oi! You won't get no answer from 'er! She's gone on 'oliday, bless 'er!"
"What?!?!?" exclaimed Des. "Where to?!"
"Rome," said the neighbour. "She left this morning, won't be back for two weeks!"
"Oh no," groaned Des, his heart sinking. "I need to speak to her urgently!"
"Don't worry, I've got the address and phone number of the 'otel," said the neighbour. "I'm looking after 'er budgie, you see!"
Des took down the address and phone number, and tried ringing it on his mobile phone. But all he got was some bloke talking in foreign.
"This is no good," said Des. "Clive speaks Spanish, I'll get him to talk to him." He walked down the road and waited by the entrance to the golf club. After a long while, by which time it was getting dark, Clive came driving out in his BMW. Des opened the passenger door and got in.
"What do you think you're doing?!" exclaimed Clive. "Where's your own car?!"
"In Rome," said Des.
"I'm not driving you there!" exclaimed Clive.
"Just a lift home will do," said Des. "Could you do me another favour? Could you speak to a bloke in Spanish for me?"
"No," said Clive. "I don't speak Spanish."
"Yes you do!" exclaimed Des. "You speak seven European languages!"
"But not Spanish!" said Clive.
So Des decided he had no other option but to go out to Rome in person. Early the next morning he went banging on Mick's front door.
"Mick, we're going to Rome!" declared Des.
"Eh?" said Mick, still in his dressing gown. "Roam where?"
"No, no, Rome in Spain!" said Des.
"Italy!!" exclaimed Mick. "Rome's in Italy, not Spain!"
"Oh botherations, I wonder if Clive spoke Italian...too late now, I've already booked us both a flight to Rome."
"Both of us?!" said Mick. "Why are you going to Rome anyway? And why do I have to go?!"
"My car's there," said Des. "I'll explain on the plane! Now hurry, the taxi will be here in ten minutes!"
Mick quickly got dressed, just in time to board the taxi to the airport, where they were just in time for their flight to Rome.
As soon as they arrived, they hailed a taxi to take them to the hotel where the new owner of Des's Fiat 126 was staying. Strangely enough, the taxi turned out to be a white Fiat 126, just like Des's.
"Good grief!" exclaimed Des. Mick got straight in, but Des started carefully inspecting the exterior of the car.
"Sorry about my friend," said Mick to the driver.
"I understando," said the taxi driver, who spoke English, thankfully. "He is Englisho."
"Des! Get in!" snapped Mick. Des did as he was told. "This isn't your car!"
"How can you be so sure?" said Des.
"Look! The steering wheel's on the other side!!"
"Oh yes..." said Des.
The trip to the hotel turned out to be somewhat hairier than what Des and Mick were used to. The taxi driver drove them at top speed down the busy streets, ignoring traffic lights, other road users and generally driving all over the place. After a while Des and Mick opted to get out early and walk the rest of the way.
"I'm not looking forward to driving back through all that!" exclaimed Des. "I think I'll let you drive."
"First things first," said Mick. "We need to buy a map!"
They did so, and then began walking along the streets of Rome, looking for the hotel. Well Mick was, but Des was still more interested in looking for his car. He stared at each car that was parked by the road.
"I can't believe there are so many Fiat 126s in this place!" exclaimed Des. "Back home, they're really rare, but there's tons of them over here!"
He carefully examined each Fiat 126 to check that it wasn't his one, resprayed and converted to left hand drive. He soon attracted the attention of PC Ploddo.
"Sorry PC Ploddo, I'm after a Fiat 126!" said Des. "I'm not a thief!"
"That is what they all say!" said PC Ploddo who, thankfully, spoke English.
At last, after a long walk they finally arrived at the hotel. But before they went inside Des looked carefully round the car park.
"I can't see it anywhere!" said Des. "Oh no...97-year old English pensioner driving in that mayhem...it's bound to be crashed!!"
They went into the reception area of the hotel.
"We need to speak to Mrs Edna Grimshaw, urgently!" said Mick.
Unfortunately, the receptionist didn't speak English. Thankfully, Mrs Edna Grimshaw did.
"Are you after me?" she said, coming up behind them suddenly. Des and Mick gasped. They turned round and saw a very nice, frail old lady smiling at them. "I'm 97, you know."
"Oh it's you! Thank goodness!!" exclaimed Des, shaking Mrs Grimshaw enthusiastically by the hand. "You haven't crashed my Fiat 126, have you?!?!"
Mrs Grimshaw looked rather confused, so Mick explained the situation.
"Oh dear, you've had a wasted journey," said Mrs Grimshaw. "My car's back home! I came here on a coach with my church group!"
"WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?" exclaimed Des. "YOU MEAN WE CAME ALL THIS WAY FOR NOTHING?!?!?!?"
"Des, calm down!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Sorry, sorry," said Des. "Where did you leave my ,er your, car then?!"
"I left it with my nephew to look after," said Mrs Grimshaw. "I'll write his address down for you on a piece of paper."
Once she had done this, Des stared at it.
"33 Oakleigh Avenue, Tolworth...that's Wayne's house!!"
"That's right, Wayne Coach, he's my nephew."
"He's your nephew?!" exclaimed Des, incredulously. "I'll kill him!"
"So it was right under our very noses the whole time," said Mick.
Des stormed out of the hotel, leaving Mick to thank Mrs Grimshaw for her help. They hurried on foot back to the airport, and boarded a return flight to London. They finally arrived back at Oakleigh Avenue after a very tiring day and a half.
"Phew!" said Des. "What a day and a half that's been! Still, at least the whole saga's ended well."
He went over to Wayne's house.
"Funny, I can't see my car in his drive," said Des to himself. He rang the doorbell, and almost immediately Wayne answered.
"'Allo Des, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere..."
"Never mind all that, where's my car? I want it back!!"
"What yer talkin' about Des?! I ain't got your car!!"
"All right then, where's your Aunty Edna's car?!?!" exclaimed Des, who was getting very impatient.
"Oh!!" exclaimed Wayne, breaking out into a smile "I know what yer on about!!!! Still ain't got it though!"
"What do you mean, you 'still ain't got it'!!" said Des. "You're supposed to be looking after it!!"
"Yeah I am!" said Wayne. "But when I was drivin' it back from 'er 'ouse, I just popped into this shop to buy me lottery ticket, and when I came back out I saw it bein' towed away!! I couldn't understand it!! I mean, I only parked it on a double yellow line!!"
"Oh...my...god..." said Des, covering his head with his hands.
The next morning, the whole gang gathered in the cafe for their usual meeting.
"Where were you two yesterday morning?!" said Mrs Greasy to Des and Mick.
"We were in Spain - I mean Italy," said Des.
"Yeah right, and I'm Anthony Worrall Thompson!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Hi Anthony, I've always wanted to meet yer!" exclaimed Wayne.
"Well never mind that, did you get your car back all right?" said Mick.
"Eventually," sighed Des. "After I had to go down the car pound and pay £50 to get it out!! And all because of Wayne!"
"At least you've got it back now," said Mick.
"Yes, it was very nice of that Mrs Grimshaw to let me have it back in the end," said Des. "And I didn't even have to buy it off her!"
"Well, not exactly," said Mick.
"What do you mean?" said Des.
"When you walked out of the hotel I promised Mrs Grimshaw that you'd buy her a brand new car, in return for letting you have your Fiat 126 back," said Mick. "And she said she rather liked the look of the new BMW Z4 - or a fast Vauxhall if you can't stretch to that..."