by Robert Williams
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed the mystery person on Des's doorstep. All right then, you guessed it, it was Farmer Files.
"Hello Farmer Files," said Des. "No thanks, I don't want any."
"Good mornin' sir, moi name be Farmer Files..."
"Yes I know," said Des. "That's why I said, 'hello Farmer Files'."
"Oooooh arrrrr!!! Moi name be Farmer Files, and oi be a representative of PIGsoft, the world's largest software company..."
"Eh?" said Des. "I thought that was something else."
"...run by a farmer. And as oi was passin' your 'ouse, oi couldn't 'elp noticin' your compu'er be very out of date!!"
"Really??" said Des. "Hang on a minute, my computer's in the back room...are you sure it wasn't my microwave?"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files.
"Anyway I don't need a new computer, I've already got the latest in technology! It's a Pentium, 32Mb RAM, 200Mhz thing with CD-ROM! And it's even got a disk drive!!"
"Oooooh arrrrr!!! That be why you be needin' a new one!! You be usin' seriously out-of-date technology!!!"
"Am I?" said Des. "But really, I still don't need a new computer. I haven't used the one I've got since 1998, mainly so I can avoid Mrs Greasy's e-mails."
Farmer Files realised Des was going to be a trickier customer than he had anticipated. So he decided to try a different tack.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!! Did you know that if you leave your compu'er unused for more than foive years, you be runnin' the risk of catchin' a virus off it!!"
"Oh no!!" said Des.
"Oooooh arrrrr!! And if you be catchin' a computer virus, you could foind yourself in computer 'ospital!!" said Files. "And...you may never be comin' out again."
"OH NO!!!" exclaimed Des. "Well that settles it, I've got to get a new one then, haven't I?!"
"Oooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files, pushing his way into Des's house. "Can oi be interestin' you in a brand new PIGsoft 3.0GHz, 512Mb RAM PC with colour prin'er, flatbed scanner, 3D graphics card, CD-ROM rewroiter, DVD player and even broad bean Porkernet access!!"
"Oh...well...do I really need all that?" said Des.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!! Do you really want to be gettin' left behoind on the 'ard shoulder of the information superhighway?!"
"Oh no, of course not," said Des. "I broke down on it once, and had to wait two hours for the AA to turn up!"
"That be settlin' it then," said Files. "If you would just be likin' to sign a cheque for £2500 for me!"
"How much?!?!" exclaimed Des.
"You be payin' for your peace of mind, remember!!" said Files.
"Oh yes of course," said Des. "Well in that case, it's a bargain!"
Des wrote out the cheque and gave it to Files.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!" said Files. "Oi'll just go and get it out of moi Land Rover!!"
Des went into his spare room and moved his old computer out of the way, which was covered in dust and cobwebs, and Files brought in several large boxes and dumped them on the floor.
"Oh no!" exclaimed Des as he started to unpack the various boxes. "It's PINK!! I don't want a pink computer!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!! Brandin', Des, it be brandin'!!"
"What's this?" said Des, holding up a small model pig attached to a wire.
"That be a pig!" said Files. "We use it instead of a mouse!!"
"Inevitably," sighed Des.
They plugged everything in and switched it on. The computer whirred into action, and Des was rather alarmed to hear an oinking sound.
"Don't tell me this computer comes with a free pig!!" exclaimed Des.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! That just be a sound effect!!" said Files to Des's relief.
"'Welcome to PIGsoft Doors XP'," said Des as the computer booted up. "What's this message box? ''Are you sure you want to run PIGsoft Doors XP'? Yes I am!"
He clicked 'Yes' on the pig/mouse. Another message box came up.
"'Are you sure?'"
He clicked 'Yes' again. Another message box came up.
"'Are you sure?'"
Des was starting to get a bit annoyed. He clicked it again.
"Oooooh arrrrr," said Files. "Sorry, oi forgot to mention, this be the Chris Tarrant Edition!!"
"'You have performed an illegal operation. Doors XP is now closing down.' Illegal operation?!?!?" Des was horrified. "What did I do?! You won't tell the police, will you?!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr, oi be sorry about this, let me just change some settings!"
Files took the chair and did some technical things. When he tried it again it booted up okay. They watched as a graphic of a pig walked onto the screen, with a speech bubble coming out of its mouth.
"'Hello, I'm Perky, your personal assistant'," read Des. "What's this rubbish, can't I get rid of it?"
"Oooooh arrrrr no, Perky be a built-in feature of Doors XP, to 'elp you on your way and make your computer experience even more satisfying!!"
"Oh, well anyway, how do I get onto the internet?" said Des.
"You be clickin' 'ere, on Porkernet Explorer!" said Files.
"Porkernet?" said Des. "Is that the same as the internet?"
"Sort of," said Files. Des took the chair again, and tried to run Porkernet Explorer.
"'Are you sure you want to run Porkernet Explorer?' Oh god, here we go again," sighed Des. He clicked on the box. "'Are you sure?' Yes!" He clicked on the box again. "'Are you sure?' YES!! 'Do you want to ask the audience?' NO!! Now what's this? 'Doors XP has detected that you are not intelligent enough to run this program and is now closing down'. Not intelligent enough?!?!"
"Oooooh arrrrr! This system be at the cuttin' edge of new technology!!"
"Can't you change the settings?" said Des.
"Ooooh arrrrr!! It'd be simpler if you just became a bit more intelligent!!"
Des groaned, and Files took the chair again to faff about with some settings. This time they managed to get into Porkernet Explorer.
"Right then, I think I'll log onto the Co-op website and order some chocolate biscuits."
"Ooooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "You won't be able to! Let me explain - the Porkernet be offerin' a range of exclusive products and services you cannot be gettin' on the in'ernet!! For example, you can be bookin' your 'olidays with PIGtravel Online! Buy a train ticket with PIGrail Online! Get the la'est news and weather for pigs from PIGnews Online! Listen to PIG FM Online! Buy jumpers from PIGwear Online! (And oi know you be a big fan of moi jumpers!!)"
"And just this mornin', oi struck a deal with Mrs Greasy to provoide online caterin' for PIGfood Online!!"
"Oh my god," said Des, grimacing even more. "So let me get this right, I can't actually get onto the ordinary internet with this. I can only access services run by you."
"Oooooh arrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. "You be in a very privileged position! When you 'ave access to the Porkernet, you don't need access to the in'ernet!!"
"Well...I'll look at that later," said Des. "Let me try running a spreadsheet, I could do my chocolate biscuit accounts on it."
He opened up the spreadsheet program, and went through another tedious series of 'Are you sure?' message boxes. Then it came up with another message box.
"'The version of Doors XP you are using is out-of-date. Please click to download the latest upgrade'," read Des in dismay. "What's going on, I've only had this version for half an hour!!"
"Technology be movin' fast these days!!" said Files.
Des downloaded the upgrade, and then it crashed.
"I don't really like this computer very much," said Des.
"Oooooh arrrrr!! Don't worry, they all be doin' this! When it be run in properly, it'll run loike a dream!!"
"My dreams will be the only place this computer will run properly," sighed Des.
Files decided it was time to go and sell some more of his dodgy computers to unsuspecting buyers, while Des continued to play about with his new computer. Before long he received an e-mail from Mrs Greasy informing him that it was time to come down the cafe, and detailing some of her exciting special offers. Des groaned and deleted the e-mail. Minutes later another e-mail from Mrs G came through, so he deleted it again. Then yet another one came through.
"I don't believe this," groaned Des. "This is why I stopped using my last computer! I wonder if there's any way I can stop this spam."
He tried searching through the instruction manual, but it was all written in Farmer Files-speak, and was therefore totally illegible. So he tried ringing the helpline.
"Oooooh arrrrr!" said the voice on the phone.
"Oh hello Farmer Files, I was just wondering..."
"You 'ave been placed in a queue and oi will be tryin' to get to you as soon as oi can. Please be rememberin', your call be important to us!!"
"Oh great," said Des. He sat through half an hour of recorded Farmer Files messages and music by The Four Seasons (that's the pop band, not the classical music). In the end he gave up, and went back to the computer. When he checked his inbox again, there were twenty more e-mails from Mrs Greasy. Des heaved a huge sigh, and decided it was time to give in.
"All right, all right, I'm coming! Anything to get away from this stupid computer!!"
He logged off the computer, and waited as the Perky Pig graphic disappeared through a door. But instead of switching off, the system just froze. Des buried his head in his hands, and one of the dreaded message boxes came up.
'You have crashed your computer. All data has been lost. Doors XP is now informing technical support'.
Immediately the doorbell rang. Des went and answered it. It was technical support.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! Des, what 'ave you done?!!!"
"I don't know, I only tried to switch it off!"
Farmer Files went inside to try to fix the computer, while Des hurried off to the cafe. When he got there, Clive was bashing a pink laptop.
"Look, Clive's turning the same colour as his laptop!" said Des.
"I can't believe I let Farmer Files talk me into buying a computer off him!!" exclaimed Clive. "Look at this - 'Doors XP has detected you are not intelligent enough'! What a cheek!"
"Hey, I didn't get that message on mine!" said Wayne. "I got 'Doors XP 'as detected you are 'ighly intelligent, would yer like to upgrade to Doors IQ special edition for clever people?!!!'"
"Des, where on earth have you been?!" said Mrs Greasy, coming out of the kitchen. "I had to send you 23 e-mails!"
"Oh dear, they must have got lost in the e-post," lied Des. "Perhaps E-Postman Pat mislaid them in his van when he was driving down the information superhighway."
"Yes, that's probably it," said Mrs G. "Nevertheless, you're still not too late for lunch!"
"And now that I've teamed up with Farmer Files for PIGfood Online, you don't even need to leave your house to enjoy my delicious cookery!" exclaimed Mrs G.
"Good grief!" said Mick.
"And since you've all got Porkernet access, there's no excuse!" said Mrs G.
"Apart from me!" said Mick. "There's no way I'm letting Farmer Files sell me one of his computers!"
"It's only a matter of time," said Clive. "He'll get you in the end!"
"How does PIGfood Online operate then?" asked Mick.
"It's so simple!" said Mrs Greasy. "Just log on to the Porkernet, and order your choice of delicious food cooked by me! You can pay online - I accept all major credit cards, including Porkercard!"
"Good, I haven't got a credit card either," said Mick.
"Mick, do you own anything that was invented after the 19th century?!" said Des.
"Umm...I've got a wireless," said Mick.
"Once you've made your payment, I send Michael my new pet monkey round on a skateboard to deliver your food to your house!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Your pet monkey?!?!" exclaimed Mick, incredulously.
"I'll introduce him," said Mrs Greasy. She popped into the kitchen and came out again with a small monkey. "Everybody say hello to Michael."
They all waved hello to Michael the monkey, who waved back.
"You can't send an animal out to do your deliveries!" said Mick. "It's immoral!"
"It's cheap!" said Mrs Greasy.
"And anyway, how on earth is a monkey supposed to find its way to a customer's house?!" said Clive.
"Durrrr!!" said Mrs G. "I give it a street atlas, of course! And when it's delivered your food to you, it stays until you've eaten everything before bringing the plate back to me!"
"What?!" exclaimed Des. "You mean you don't trust us to eat our food?!"
"Yes, and also I'm short of plates," said Mrs G. "Now I'll just go and get your lunch."
She went back into the kitchen. Just then Mike the Manic Mechanic walked into the cafe.
"Hey, any of you lot seen Farmer Files?!" he said.
"Yes, unfortunately," said Clive, who had just hurled his laptop onto the floor.
"I want a word with him!" said Mike. "He sold me one of his computers this morning, and when I logged on I found out he's set up PIGcars Online! He's selling fast Fords at even more competitive prices than I am! What's he trying to do to me?! He's going to put me out of business!!!"
"He's round my house trying to fix my computer," said Des.
"Thanks Des," said Mike. But instead of leaving, Mike continued to stare at Des.
"Mike, what's wrong?" said Des.
"Why is there a monkey on your head?" said Mike.
"Eh? Huh?" said Des. He looked up. "Oi, Michael, geroff!!!"
"I'm sorry!" said Mike.
"Not you, the monkey!" said Des. "He's called Michael!"
The monkey jumped off Des's head and onto the table.
"Is anybody getting the impression there's too many Micks and Mikes and Michaels round here?" said Des.
"I'll go then!" exclaimed Mike.
Soon after Mike had gone, Mrs Greasy brought out their lunch. She laid it on the table, but before they had a chance to tuck in, Michael the monkey started sticking his finger into their food and eating it.
"Oi, Michael!" said Mrs Greasy. "That's not for you!"
"Hey hey!" exclaimed Des. "Nice one, Michael!"
Unfortunately it wasn't long before Michael jumped off the table and threw up on the floor.
"Oh dear," sighed Mrs G.
"Looks like that monkey shares our taste!" said Des.
Later that day, once Farmer Files had finished fixing his computer, Des decided to have another try with it.
"I know it's foolhardy, but I'll have a go with this Porkernet," said Des to himself. "There must be something decent on here!"
He tried to do a search on chocolate biscuits, but it wasn't long before an annoying series of pop-up windows started appearing, and all kinds of PIG-related websites began popping up that had nothing to do with what he was looking for.
Des tried bashing the keyboard to get rid of them, but only succeeded in causing even more irrelevant websites to pop up.
"Good grief, I've had enough of this!!" exclaimed Des. Turning purple with rage, he switched the computer off, pulled out all the wires and threw it in the cupboard. He then sat quietly for a bit to calm down.
Just then there was a knock at the front door. Des went and opened it. He looked all round, but there was no one there. He was about to close the door when he looked down to see Michael the monkey on a skateboard holding a plate of manky-looking mashed potato.
"Oh no," groaned Des. "I didn't order this! Take it away!"
But Michael just sat there, looking at Des.
"Take it away!" said Des. "Come on! Take it back to Mrs Greasy! You know! Mrs Greasy!!"
He held out his arms and puffed his cheeks out in an attempt to imitate Mrs Greasy. But the monkey would not move.
"Okay, let's try something easier," said Des, bending down to Michael's level. "Take it next door." He pointed to Clive's house. "Take it there. He'll have it!"
But still Michael would not move.
"Right!" exclaimed Des. "I'll take you then!" He picked up the monkey, carried it across to Clive's house and plonked it on the doorstep. He rang the doorbell and quickly dashed back over to his house.
But when he got back to his doorstep he was most surprised to see a Ford Mondeo reversing up his driveway. When it stopped, Mike got out of it. Des looked at it in bewilderment.
"Congratulations Des, it's your new car!" said Mike.
"I didn't order a new car!" said Des.
"It's a very nice car!" said Mike.
"I don't want it!" said Des. "Why are you trying to sell it to me?!"
"Sorry, I forgot to mention," said Mike. "Me and Farmer Files have come to an agreement, which means that PIGcars Online and Mike's Manic Motors are delighted to announce that they have joined forces to sell quality fast Fords over the Porkernet!! And you're our first customer!"
"But...but..." said Des. He looked round at Clive's house, where Clive was standing on his doorstep trying to talk to a monkey. When he looked back Wayne had suddenly appeared with a bucket and ladder.
"Wayne, what are you doing?!" said Des.
"I've come to clean yer windas!" said Wayne. "I'm from PIG Winda Cleanin' Online, and we just received yer order over the Porkernet!"
"But I didn't order..."
Then as if things couldn't get any worse, Farmer Files walked up the driveway pushing a wardrobe.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!!!" said Farmer Files. "A'ernoon Des!! Thank you for orderin' a selection of stylish jumpers from PIGwear Online!"
Files opened the wardrobe to reveal a selection of hideous jumpers, just like the ones Des had only recently managed to rid himself of.
"And while oi be 'ere, let me confirm that 'oliday to the Maldives you just be bookin'!!"
"Oh for goodness sake, I didn't book a holiday!!!" exclaimed Des. "And I didn't order any jumpers!! Or a car!! Or any window cleaning!! Or even any mashed potato!!!!!"
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! Oi think you be foindin' you did!" said Files. He waved several order forms in Des's face. Des looked at them, and his heart sank. He realised that he must have accidentally ordered all of this rubbish when he had been bashing his computer earlier.
"Well I'm sorry everybody, but I don't want any of this stuff!" said Des. "Please take it all away!!"
Shrugging their shoulders, the various people began to mope away from Des's driveway.
"And that includes you!" he said to Michael the monkey, who had just reappeared on Des's doorstep after Clive had convinced it to go back to where it had come from.
"How dare they try to make a monkey out of me," muttered Des as he closed his front door.