by Robert Williams
The usual people were in the usual cafe at the usual time talking about the usual things when Dickie the Vicar walked in and started droning on in the usual way about the usual disco he would be holding that night.
"But before I go, I've got one more problem which I hope you groovers might be able to provide me with a super solution!"
"Wassat then?" said Des.
"Every morning I'm late arriving at the church because the roads are clogged up with MPVs and off-road vehicles on the school run!!" said Dickie.
"I know!" said Des. "Why don't we set up a school bus service to help clear the roads?!"
"We've done that before!!" exclaimed Mick. "Honestly Des, you've got a memory like a, er...er...no it's gone. Anyway Dickie, why don't you just..."
"I've got a good idea," said Mike the Manic Mechanic. "There's a stream that runs all the way from the back of your vicarage to the church! So why don't you get a barrel and a long stick and travel to work down there?!"
Mick buried his head in his hands at this preposterous suggestion.
"What a fantastic idea Mikey!!" exclaimed Dickie. "I'm going to go off and try it right away!!"
Dickie rushed off back to the vicarage to fetch a barrel and a long stick.
"What were you going to suggest, Mick?" asked Des.
"I was going to say, the church is only about five minutes' walk from the vicarage!!" said Mick.
"So?" said Des.
"Oh never mind," sighed Mick.
"Actually, Mike's idea has got me thinking," said Des.
"Oh no!!" exclaimed the others, getting up to go.
"All the roads in this area are congested these days," said Des.
"That's probably because you insist on driving absolutely everywhere," said Mick. "At 15mph."
"I don't know why they don't introduce some congestion charge or something," said Des.
"Quick, get him!!" exclaimed Clive. "Before he rings Ken!"
"That's not my fantastic idea though," said Des. "My idea is that Mike could convert a car into one that turns into a boat! It could be called an 'aqua-car'! Then when it gets too congested in the town centre, you can just drive into the River Thames and avoid the traffic!"
"What a brilliant idea!!!" exclaimed Mike. "I'll get to it straight away!"
Mike rushed off back to his garage to start building his first aqua-car. Then Mrs Greasy emerged from the kitchen with everyone's lunch. Des, Mick and Clive all rushed off back to their houses to do anything.
A couple of days later, Des received a mysterious phone call in the middle of the afternoon.
"Des, it's me!" said Mike on the other end. "I've finished your aqua-car! Do you want to pop round now and pick it up?" said Mike.
"No no, the thing is, I'm really busy at the moment!" said Des.
"Okay then, I'll bring it round," said Mike.
Des shrugged his shoulders, put the phone down and went back to watching 'The Tweenies'. However he had barely had a chance to park himself on the settee when the doorbell rang. Sighing, he went to answer it.
"No thank you I don't..."
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! 'Allo Des, it be yer ol' mate Farmer Foiles 'ere!!"
"Hello Farmer Files," sighed Des. "Thing is, I'm really busy at the moment..."
"Oooooh arrrrrr!! This be your lucky day!!! You 'ave been selected from our database of thousands to be the one to test droive the latest product from PIG Mo'ors!!"
Des peered out into the drive and saw that Files had parked a bright pink Ford Anglia.
"It's a bright pink Ford Anglia," said Des.
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" said Files. "No it not!! It be a PIG Trundleworth!! And oi be givin' you the opportuni'y to run it for one year, courtesy of me, Farmer Files!!"
"No thanks," said Des.
"Does 0-60 in 7.4 seconds...er, sorry, tha' should be 74 seconds! Maximum speed 42mph! Extras be includin' a rear window and a radio tuned to be pickin' up only PIG FM!! And 'ere's the best bit - it runs on pigswill!!"
"No thanks," said Des.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Don't you want to be tradin' up from your Fiat 126?!"
"No thanks," said Des. "I don't want a pink car."
"Well this be the clincher!" said Files. "You'll definitely be wantin' it once oi've told you that this be no ordinary car!! Because you can droive this 'ere car into the water and it be turnin' into a boat!! Yes, Des, it be PIG Mo'ors's foirst patented aqua-car!!! Watch!!"
Files got into the car, and pulled a lever. Des watched as the wheels turned sideways and disappeared into the wheelarches. Then a rudder sprouted from the rear.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!!" said Files. "Impressive, eh!!!"
"Very good, but I really don't want it," said Des. "Now you'd better get that thing out of the way because Mike's coming round any minute now with my new aqua-car...oh no!!!"
But it was too late. At that moment Mike drew up by the side of the road in an ageing Morris Marina.
"Hi there Des!" said Mike, getting out of the car. "Whaddya think!! It's your new aqua-car!! And what car could be more appropriate to convert than a Marina!! GEDDIT!!!"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Aqua-car?!?!"
"Let me show you how it works," said Mike.
"Did 'e say aqua-car?!?!?" said Files.
"Nnnnnnnooooo..." said Des.
Mike was back in the driving seat of the Morris Marina.
"Now all you do when you want to drive into the water is pull this lever, and look!" Des and Files watched as the wheels turned sideways and disappeared into the wheelarches, and a rudder sprouted from the rear.
"First it was a car...now it's a boat!!" grinned Mike.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Plagiarist!!"
"Like it?!" said Mike, getting out of the car. "Now you're convinced, I reckon I can do you a terrific deal on this..." Then he noticed Files's car in Des's drive. "Oh, you've already got a new car!"
"Well not exactly," said Des.
"Ugh, it's horrible!" said Mike. "Where did you get it from?!"
"It's, er, Farmer Files's aqua-car," mumbled Des.
"What a heap of junk!" said Mike. "Aqua-car?!?! Plagiarist!!!"
"Ooooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Oi think you'll foind oi 'ad the oidea foirst!!!"
"I think not!" said Mike. He inspected the pink Ford Anglia, sorry, pink PIG Trundleworth. "Looks a botch job to me!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Oi got Carl the Crazy Car-person to convert it for me!!"
"Carl the Crazy Car-person?!?!?!?" exclaimed Mike. "He's a good-for-nothing cowboy!!!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Look who's talkin'!!!"
"Oi!!" said Mike.
"I'm getting out of here before this turns ugly!" said Des. As Mike and Files argued, Des sidled away. He had just made to the front doorstep when Mike called him.
"All right then, let Des decide!!" said Mike. "Oi Des, where are you going?!"
"Oh, er, nowhere..." said Des.
"Good," said Mike. "So whose aqua-car are you going for?!"
"Oooooh arrrrr!!!!" said Files. "Choose moine Des!! You know it be makin' sense!!!"
"Ummm..." said Des.
"Come on Des!" said Mike. "Choose mine! After all, no one in their right mind's going to buy a car off a farmer, are they?!"
"Errrr...." said Des.
As Des dithered about, he was relieved to be suddenly struck with an idea.
"I know!" said Des. "We'll have a race!! On the River Thames! Whoever wins is the aqua-car king!!"
"Great idea!!" said Mike.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files.
"So whose team are you going to be on then Des?" said Mike.
"Oh no..." groaned Des. "Ummm...I'll be umpire!"
Des then went and dragged Mick from his house.
"Look at these two cars, Mick," said Des. "In our aqua-car race, whose team do you want to be on?"
"Des, I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than go into the water in one of those things!!!" said Mick.
"Okay, you're on Farmer Files's side," said Des. He then went and dragged Clive from his house.
"Look at these two cars, Clive," said Des. "In our aqua-car race, whose team do you want to be on?"
"Des, I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than go into the water in one of those things!!!"
"That's funny, that's exactly what Mick said," said Des. "You're on Mike's side."
In the end it was decided that Mick and Dickie would be on Files's team, and Clive and Wayne would be on Mike's team. Neither team was willing to take on Mrs Greasy, on the grounds that they would invariably sink with her on board.
The day of the great aqua-car race soon dawned. And it was pouring with rain.
"Absolutely typical!" complained Mike. "Why did Des have to choose today of all days?!"
"Doesn't really make much difference," sighed Mick. "We were always going to get wet anyway."
The teams gathered on the bank of the river with the two aqua-cars. Des, as umpire, had kitted himself out with a loudspeaker, stripy shirt and a pair of shorts. He was rather disappointed to see that no crowd had developed to cheer on the teams, other than Mrs Greasy who had arrived to provide catering for the event.
"Dickie, why are you wearing jeans and an Emerson Lake and Palmer T-shirt?!" said Mick.
"Because my Status Quo one's in the wash!" said Dickie.
"It's not very becoming of a vicar, is it?!" said Mick.
"Well I had to change into these because my cassocks got a little damp on the way to work this morning!" said Dickie. "Funny thing is, the same thing happened yesterday! And the day before!!"
"Riiiiight," said Mick.
"Everybody here then?!" shouted Des through his loudspeaker.
"Yes!!" shouted everyone.
"No!" said Des. "Where's Clive?!"
Everyone shrugged their shoulders. So they spent ten minutes getting more wet as they waited for Clive to arrive.
"He's obviously not coming," said Mick, finally. "He's far too sensible. Come on, let's get the inevitable over and done with."
"Okay then!" shouted Des through his loudspeaker. "The winner is the first to pass the finishing line, which is over there somewhere!!" Des waved his arm vaguely in the distance. The exact positioning of the finishing line didn't seem too important since Des didn't really believe either car had much chance of making it anywhere near.
"So, ready...steady...go!!!" Des fired his water pistol, and unfortunately Mick ended up with a face full of water. "Whoops, sorry Mick."
"Doesn't matter, it's only the start," sighed Mick, resigned to the fact that he was going to get soaked.
The two teams rushed into their respective cars - Mike and Wayne into the Morris Marina, and Mick, Files and Dickie into Files's Ford Anglia. They started their engines - or rather, tried to start their engines.
"Oh good grief, it won't start!!" exclaimed Mike.
"Come on Mikey, come on!!!" exclaimed Wayne. "They're gonna beat us!!"
But Files was having the same problem.
"Oooooh arrrrr!!!!" he exclaimed, trying the ignition time and time again.
Mick was starting to get rather hopeful that they would never actually make it into the river. But Des was getting impatient.
"Oi come on you lot!!!" he shouted through his loudspeaker. "Our audience hasn't turned up today to watch two cars sitting on the riverbank!!!"
"Your audience hasn't turned up!!!" shouted back Mick.
"I'm sure there must be a few water rats..." mumbled Des.
Eventually he got fed up waiting.
"Come on Mrs Greasy, let's give them a hand!"
Des went and gave the Morris Marina a good push into the river, while Mrs G did the same for the Ford Anglia.
"Oh no, what's happening?!?!" exclaimed Mick. "We're going in!! Pull the lever, Farmer Files!!!"
As they plunged into the river Files and Mike pulled the respective levers which would convert their cars into boats.
"Think it might be a good idea to close the windows, Wayne!" said Mike.
"'Ere Mikey, the winder's stuck!!" said Wayne.
Similar problems were being encountered in the other team's car, as Mick and Dickie furiously tried to wind the windows up without success.
"Ooooh arrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed Files, who was still trying to start the ignition.
"I wonder if anything's on the radio?" said Dickie. He switched on the radio to the sound of Handel's Water Music.
"Oh, how amusing," said Mick. But the music soon stopped as the electrics expired.
Des stood on the bank watching the two cars hanging about in the water going absolutely nowhere.
"For goodness sake you lot!!!" yelled Des. "This is supposed to be a RACE!!!"
But the teams were rather more concerned about trying to stay afloat. They were both gradually sinking further into the water, and still their engines would not start.
"This isn't going terribly well, is it?" said Mike. "Whose idea was it to build an aqua-car anyway?!"
"Dunno," said Wayne, who was rather perturbed that his comic had gone rather soggy and manky.
"Right, that's it, I'm going to have a look under the bonnet," said Mike. By now water was pouring into the cabin, so Mike swum out from the driver's window and opened up the bonnet. He had a good look round the engine, then put the bonnet down and swum back inside the car.
"No wonder," said Mike. "Looks like some water's got inside the carburettor."
Over in Files's Ford Anglia, there had been a little bit of success.
"Phew, finally got my window closed!!" proclaimed Dickie.
"I think it's a bit late now," sighed Mick, as they sat in a cabin half full of water. "Whose idea was it to build an aqua-car anyway?!"
Just then they all heard the sound of a loud engine coming towards them.
"Oh no, don't tell me they've finally got theirs started!!" exclaimed Mike.
"Ooooooh arrrrrrr, don't tell me they be foinally gettin' theirs started!!" exclaimed Files.
It was neither of them. Instead it was the sound of a motorboat rushing towards them.
"Oh my goodness!" said Des on the riverside. "Take cover!!!"
As the motorboat raced past Des got drenched in water, not to mention the competitors.
"Oh just great," said a soaked Des. "Are you all right, Mrs Greasy?"
"Yes of course, good job I brought this umbrella!" said a bone-dry Mrs Greasy. "I don't hold out much hope for these sponge cakes, though."
"What a pity," said Des, looking a table full of soggy sponge cakes Mrs G had just finished baking.
"Still, I'm sure they'll be all right once I've left them on the radiator for a bit," said Mrs G.
"Who was that anyway?!" said Des.
As a forlorn bunch of competitors tried to steer their cars back towards the riverbank, the motorboat came racing back towards them again.
"Oh no, not again!" said Des.
But this time the boat came to a halt just where the drenched Des was stood.
"I should've known," groaned Des when he saw who the driver was. "Look what you've done!!!"
"Hi there!" said Clive. "Like my new motorboat?"
"Very nice," said Mrs Greasy.
"Looks like this makes me the winner!" said Clive. They looked at the others swimming round their cars which by now were almost completely submerged.
"S'pose so," sighed Des.
"Where's the prize money then?" said Clive.
"What prize money?" said Des.
"Oh, whatever," said Clive.
As the competitors gave up trying to get their cars back onto the bank, they swum their way back onto dry land.
"So Des," said a drenched Mike. "I think you've had a pretty good demonstration."
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!!" exclaimed a drenched Files.
"A pretty good demonstration on what a stupid idea building an aqua-car is!" said a drenched Mick.
"So who's it to be then Des?" said Mike. "Mine or his?"
"You know what," said Des. "I've kind of gone off the idea of aqua-cars."
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!!" said Files.
"Can I have a go on your boat instead please, Clive?" said Des.
"Get stuffed," said Clive, driving off in his motorboat and giving the others another jolly good drenching in the process.
Copyright © Robert Williams