by Robert Williams
"It's finally dawned on me!" declared Mrs Greasy one morning in the cafe.
"Really?" said Mick. "It dawned on everyone else at about six o'clock this morning!"
"No, no, I mean I've finally woken up to the realisation as to why customer numbers to my cafe aren't, to be honest, as high as I'd like them to be!"
There were gasps all round.
"You mean you've finally figured it out?!?" exclaimed Clive.
"Yes I have," said Mrs Greasy. "I can't believe for so many years, the reason has been staring me right in the face, yet I've never realised it!"
"At last!" exclaimed Des. "I've been waiting for this day for all my life!"
"So does this mean you're going to close the cafe then?" said Clive, hopefully.
"Close the cafe?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "What are you talking about?!"
"Well...are you going to take cooking lessons then?" said Mick.
"Cooking lessons?!!" exclaimed Mrs G. "Have you all gone raving mad?!!"
"But you just said, you've worked out why no one ever comes in here!" said Des. "So aren't you going to do something about it?!"
"I am!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'm going to open a gym!!!!"
There was a long silence.
"Sorry, did I just miss something vital in the script there?" said Clive, finally. "One minute you were saying how you've realised why you never have any customers because your cooking is so bad, the next you're saying you're opening a gym?!?!?"
"No, you didn't miss anything!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "And what's all this 'because my cooking is so bad'?!"
"Erm..." said Clive.
"The reason is obvious! Because my cooking is so delicious (and my prices so low), people are concerned that they will come in here and eat so much food that they will totally bloat up and become fat and unfit!! So they just avoid coming in, in order to stay fit, lean and healthy! I can't believe I've remained oblivious to the truth for so long!!"
"Riiiiiight," said Clive. "So what are you opening a gym for?"
"Good grief, do I have to spell it out to you?!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Yes!" said Des.
"J-I-M!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
"Now listen," said Mrs Greasy. "From now on, everyone who comes to eat in my cafe will get free entry to my gym! So once they have finished tucking in to their scrumptious meal, they can go and work off the fat!!"
"That's got to be the stupidest idea I've ever heard," said Clive. "It's even stupider than one of Des's ideas!"
"Thanks," said Des. "Which one in particular?"
"Now Mike's coming round later to install all the exercise equipment," said Mrs Greasy. "All being well, the gym will open for business tomorrow morning!"
"Give me one good reason why I should go to your gym instead of my usual one," said Clive.
"Free entry," said Des.
"Ah..." said Clive.
The next morning Des and Mick went along to the cafe. Straight away they noticed the new sign.
"'Mrs Greasy's Cafe and Jim'," read Mick.
"Who's Jim?" said Des.
They went inside to find out.
"Hey Mrs Greasy, who's Jim?" asked Des.
"Oh for goodness sake, you're the eighth person who's walked in and asked that this morning!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
"Well if gets people in the cafe, surely that's a good thing!" said Mick.
"Not really, as soon as I tell them they shrug their shoulders and walk straight out again!" said Mrs Greasy.
"So who is Jim?!" said Des.
"It's not Jim, it's gym! You know, my new keep fit gym!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
"Oh!" said Des and Mick. They shrugged their shoulders and turned to walk out.
"Oi, come back!" said Mrs Greasy. "I've got to serve you your lunch, then you've got to go for your first keep fit session!"
"Mrs Greasy, you've spelt that sign wrong!" said Mick. "Gym is spelt G-Y-M, not J-I-M!"
"Are you sure?" said Mrs G. "My uncle Jim always spelt his name J-I-M!"
"So did my uncle Fred," said Des.
"Eh?!" said Mick.
"He wasn't a very good speller," said Des. "Like Mrs Greasy!"
"Gym is short for gymnasium, Mrs G," said Mick. "G-Y-M!!!"
"Well why didn't you tell me yesterday then!" said Mrs Greasy.
"We thought you were joking," said Des.
"I never joke in situations as serious as this!" said Mrs G. "Now I've spent half my annual budget on that new sign! What am I going to do now?"
"Bite the bullet and splash out on another £7 to get a new one?" said Mick.
"Or just close the cafe?" said Des.
"Oh stop messing about," said Mrs Greasy. "Now sit down and I'll get you your lunch."
"Oh goody," sighed Mick.
Des and Mick both endured a hearty lunch of disgusting food.
"Now I hope you're feeling fat and bloated after your lunch," said Mrs Greasy. "I bet you can't wait to get exercising!"
"Not exactly," said Des. "The only exercise I feel like doing right now is throwing up."
"So where is this gym, anyway?" said Mick.
"Upstairs, in my spare room," said Mrs G. "Come on!"
They followed Mrs Greasy up the stairs.
"Phew!" said Des, huffing and puffing when they reached the top. "That was hard work!! Well I think that's all the exercise I'll be needing today!!"
"Nonsense!" said Mrs Greasy. "Follow me!"
Des and Mick followed Mrs G into the spare room.
"Is that it?" said Mick, who was deeply unimpressed. In one corner was a rusty old bicycle attached to a frame to stop it going anywhere. In another was a rickety old rowing boat, tied to the floor. In the third was a chair, to which Mike had constructed a strange contraption with a load of old Exchange and Marts hanging off it.
"I expect Mike will want those back when this gym flops," said Des. "He's got a complete collection of every single issue!!"
"When this gym flops?!!" said Mrs G. "What rubbish! I've got a feeling in my bones this is going to be the greatest success this cafe has ever seen!"
"Isn't that just rheumatism?" said Mick.
"So what do you think?" said Mrs Greasy. "I reckon Mike's done a tip-top job here!"
"It, er, doesn't exactly look very up-to-date," said Des.
"I understand it's not exactly high technology," said Mrs G, "but once this place takes off I'll be able to afford to kit this place out with all the latest exercise equipment!! Now come on you two, it's time to get fit!!"
"Oh botherations, I didn't bring my leotard," said Des. "Looks like I won't be able to have a go!"
"Nonsense, you can keep fit even in a desperately uncool 1973 tank top!" said Mrs Greasy. "Now before you get going, I'd better take your entry fee. £10 each, please!"
"Hold on a minute, you said entry was free!!" protested Mick.
"It was up until half an hour ago," said Mrs Greasy. "But now I've got to pay for that new sign, haven't I!!"
"Oh dear," sighed Des, as he and Mick coughed up the cash.
"Thank you," said Mrs Greasy. "Now you Des, on that bicycle, and you Mick, in that rowing boat." They did as they were told.
"Are you going to have go on any of these?" said Des. "I mean, if there's one person who needs to lose a bit of weight...um..."
Mrs Greasy was frowning at him. Des grinned.
"Have fun!" said Mrs Greasy. She left the room.
Des and Mick waited as they listened Mrs Greasy's footsteps going down stairs. Then Des stepped off the bicycle and Mick stepped out of the boat. But almost immediately they heard Mrs Greasy's footsteps coming back up again. They quickly got back onto their exercise equipment.
"By the way," said Mrs Greasy, popping her head round the door, "I forgot to tell you. This equipment is linked to a generator which lights up a series of bulbs in the kitchen! So I can tell who's exercising and who's not!"
"Oh great," groaned Des when she went. "She really thinks of everything, doesn't she?!"
So Des reluctantly started peddling on the bicycle, and Mick started rowing the boat.
"Come on Des!" shouted Mrs Greasy from downstairs. "I can hardly see this light bulb coming on!! Put your back into it!!"
Des peddled faster and faster, rapidly getting out of breath. Soon sweat was pouring off his face.
"Can't we fix this somehow?" said Des, taking a quick breather. "Make it that the light bulbs are coming on even though we're not exercising!"
"I think we'd need an electronics expert for that," said Mick.
Unfortunately the person who walked through the door at that point turned out not to be an electronics expert. It was Dickie the Vicar.
"Oh hello Dickie," said Mick.
But Dickie didn't seem to register their presence. Instead, he just stood at the door.
"Go away, evil spirits!" he cried.
Des and Mick looked all around them in amazement.
"You're not wanted here!!" continued Dickie. "Go back to the spirit world, where you belong!!
"Dickie, what on earth are you doing?!?!" exclaimed Mick.
"Right, that should do it," said Dickie. "Oh hello Des and Mick!"
"What's going on?!" said Des.
"Well I just had a plate of mashed potato downstairs, then Mrs Greasy told me to come up here because I had some exorcising to do!!"
"Exorcising?!" said Mick. "She said exercising, not exorcising!!"
"Oh!!!" said Dickie. "I thought it was a bit funny, she charging me a tenner to exorcise some spirits! Well anyway, now I'm here it's a good opportunity to let you know I'm holding a groovy disco tonight..."
"Oi!" shouted Mrs Greasy from downstairs. "I've got three unlit light bulbs here!! So stop chatting and get exercising!!"
"Get on those weights now, Dickie!" exclaimed Des. Dickie sat down on the chair and started trying to pull the piles of old Exchange and Marts.
"Gosh, this is hard work!" said Dickie.
"I know, it's almost as heavy going as one of your sermons!" said Des.
"Pull, Dickie, pull!!" shouted Mrs Greasy from downstairs.
"I'm too old for this!" said Dickie. "I mean, forty year-olds like me should be taking it easy at our age!!"
Des and Mick stared at Dickie incredulously.
Just then Mrs Greasy came rushing up the stairs again.
"Oh good, hopefully that's the end of our session," said Des.
"How stupid of me," said Mrs Greasy when she walked in. "What a fool I've been!"
"Thank goodness, you've finally realised the truth!" said Des.
"That's right!" said Mrs G. "How are you supposed to exercise without music?"
She took a record player out of the cupboard and slapped on a Village People album.
"There!" said Mrs Greasy.
Now if tiring themselves out on the exercise equipment wasn't hellish enough, they now had to do it to the strains of 'YMCA'.
"What a dreadful song!" said Dickie.
"Quite true," said Mick.
"'In the Navy' was so much better!" said Dickie.
It wasn't long before Dickie was totally puffed out.
"That's enough, groovers, I'm going!!" said Dickie. But he was so tired out, when he stood up from the chair, huffing and puffing, he could barely walk straight. So he staggered right into the bicycle causing it, and Des, to crash to the ground.
"Oi!!!" exclaimed Des.
Then Dickie staggered into Mick's boat, causing it to break free from the rope that was tying it to the floorboards.
"Sorry!!" said Dickie. "I'd better be off!" He staggered out of the room.
"What's going on up there!!" shouted Mrs Greasy. "What's all that noise?!"
"Quick, quick, let's get this stuff upright!" said Des. He quickly picked the bicycle up, and Mick tried to tie the boat back to the floor, just in time before Mrs Greasy walked back into the room.
"Sorry Mrs G, just having a quick breather!" said Des.
"Hmmmm," said Mrs Greasy. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were up to something."
"No we're not, honest!!" said Des.
Mrs Greasy went away again, and Des and Mick got going once again on the exercise equipment. Unfortunately, during the chaos just now the bicycle had broken free from the frame that was stopping it from going anywhere. So as soon as Des started to pedal again, to his horror, the bike sped off, out of the door and right down the stairs.
"AAAARGGGHHHH!!!" yelled Des. "HELP!!!!"
Mrs Greasy gasped as she watched Des ride the bicycle into the cafe and right out the front door which, conveniently, happened to be open since Mrs G was about to take her rubbish outside.
"I knew it!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "He's a crafty one, that Des!"
But before she knew it, Mick was also heading down the stairs in the rowing boat. It slid through the cafe and out of the door, coming to a halt outside. Mick grinned at passers-by who looked askance at him, sitting in a rowing boat in the middle of the pavement.
"Ummm..." said Mick. "Bit of a technical hitch..."
"Where's Des gone?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "He's made off with my bicycle!!"
"Well if I didn't know Des any better," said Mick, "I'd say he's gone home!"
But Des, barely able to control the thing, was whizzing down the road on the rickety bicycle in the opposite direction. As he was now travelling downhill he soon managed to build up a surprising amount of speed. But before long, he noticed PC Plod was behind him on his bike.
"Pull over!!" shouted Plod.
"Tank top, actually!" shouted back Des.
Des soon managed to find the brakes. He steered the bicycle to the side the road and stopped it.
"Excuse me sir, is this your bicycle?" said Plod.
"Umm, well, er..." said Des.
"Could I see your bike licence please?" said Plod.
"Bike licence? Oh no...um...er...ah...hang on a minute, there's no such thing as a bike licence!!"
"Just a little joke, sir," said Plod.
"Oh, ha ha ha," laughed Des.
"Don't laugh at an officer of the law!" exclaimed Plod. "Now I have just clocked you driving at 31mph in a 30 zone!!"
"Uh-oh," said Des.
"Do you think you're Stirling Moss?!" said Plod.
"No, Des Wednesday," said Des.
"Enough of the funnies," said Plod. "Would you care to accompany me to the station?"
"Shall we go on your bike or mine?" said Des, grinning.
They went on Plod's. Once Des had managed to get out of having to pay a fine, given that he was only 1mph over the limit and the bicycle didn't have a speedometer, he went back to where he left the bike, but was alarmed to find it missing.
He looked all around, and was even more alarmed to see it being towed away by a tow truck.
"Oh just typical, I had to leave it on a yellow line," groaned Des.
Just then Mrs Greasy and Mick caught up with him.
"There you are!!!" exclaimed Mick. "This is the best exercise I've had for ages, running round looking for you!!"
"Where's my bicycle?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
"Ah now, your bicycle," said Des. "I'm glad you asked me that. Now you see, the thing is...um...er...oh look Mrs Greasy, it was all Dickie's fault anyway!!"
"Oh that's nice, just put the blame on our friendly neighbourhood vicar, why don't you!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "I can't believe you have the audacity to suggest such a ridiculous thing and expect me to believe it!!"
"Well I'll tell you what hasn't happened to it," said Des. "I didn't leave it on a yellow line and it didn't get towed away!"
Just then the tow truck came back along the road towing what was clearly Mrs Greasy's battered-looking bicycle.
"Or...perhaps on the other hand it did..."
"You'll pay for this!" said Mrs Greasy. "Whatever it costs to get that bicycle out of the car pound! Plus another £100 to pay for a new sign for the cafe!"
Des sighed a huge sigh.
The next morning Des and Mick saw the new sign which Mrs Greasy had just had put up on the cafe.
"'Mrs Greasy's Cafe and Jym'," read Mick. "Good grief..."
"Look, just don't say anything this time," said Des. "I'm not shelling out another £100..."
They walked inside.
"Good morning Des and Mick," said Mrs Greasy. "Do you like the new sign?"
"Oh yes, it's very nice," said Des.
"Correctly spelt this time?" said Mrs G.
"Errr..." said Des. Mick elbowed him. "Yes, absolutely!!"
"Very good," said Mrs Greasy. "Now what would you like to eat? Oh, by the way the gym has a new look today, mainly because that bike and boat were so badly damaged by you bunch of hooligans I've had to pay Mike for some replacements! And I'm afraid I have no choice but to pass the costs onto the customer. So your fish and chips will now cost you £25!!"
"What?!?! £25 for a plate of fish and chips that I don't even want?!" exclaimed Des.
Then Clive walked in.
"Hey, Mrs Greasy, you've spelt that sign wrong!!" he laughed. "It should be G-Y-M, not J-Y-M!!!"
Mrs Greasy glared at Des.
"That'll be £125 for your fish and chips now!" she exclaimed.
Copyright © Robert Williams