DES BUYS THE MILLENNIUM DOME
by Robert Williams
When Mick looked out of his front window one morning he got a massive shock. There was a 'For Sale' sign outside Des's house.
So he popped down to the cafe to find out what was going on.
"What's going on?" asked Mick.
"ISN'T IT FANTASTIC?!?!" exclaimed Clive, excitedly. "AT LAST!!! HE'S LEAVING!! HE'S ACTUALLY LEAVING!!! IT'S THE BEST NEWS I'VE HEARD ALL CENTURY!!"
"I've bought the Millennium Dome," said Des.
"You've done what?!" said Mick.
"I've bought the Millennium Dome," repeated Des.
"WHY?!?!" exclaimed Mick.
"Well no one else wanted it," said Des. "Bought it for a fiver, off E-bay."
"Good grief," said Mick. "And what are you planning to do with it?"
"My first thought was to set up a massive interactive exhibition in there," said Des. "But then I thought, no one's going to be interested in that."
"True," said Mick.
"So instead I'm going to move in there," said Des.
"What?!" said Mick. "You're actually going to live inside the Millennium Dome?!"
"HE IS!!" said Clive. "HE'S COMPLETELY OFF HIS ROCKER!! BUT I DON'T CARE!!!"
"I've decided I could do with a larger place," said Des. "I've almost run out of space for my collection of 'Yachting Monthly' magazines, which I've bought every week since it first came out forty-two years ago!"
"You're not interested in yachting," said Mick. "I've never understood why you subscribe to that magazine!"
"Neither have I," said Des. "Well anyway, the point is I've put my house on the market and I'm moving out as soon as the keys to the dome have arrived in the post."
"This is all I need," said Mrs Greasy. "I'm losing my most loyal customer of all time!"
"Sorry, are you talking about me?" said Des.
"And me!" said Dickie, bursting into the cafe. "Who's going to come to my discos now?!"
"There's always Mick!" said Des.
"Yes," sighed Mick. "There's always me."
"Don't worry Des, I'm sure the Dickie the Vicar Groovy Disco Roadshow will be coming round your way before long!" said Dickie.
"Can't wait," said Des sarcastically.
"I can't believe this," said Mike the Manic Mechanic, bursting into the cafe. "Who's going to provide the madcap comedy and japes from now on?! This lot here, you know, Mick and Clive and that lot, they're all boring! You don't get any entertainment from them!"
"You'll just have to make up your own madcap comedy japes from now on," said Des. "And don't panic Mike, you haven't seen the last of me! I'll still be coming round your garage once a year - there's no one else who'll keep on passing the MOT on my Fiat 126 year after year!"
"He he!" laughed Mike.
"Well I'd better be off!" said Des. "I can't sit around here chatting all day, I need to get packing!"
"Is that the only reason?" said Mick.
"The fact that Mrs Greasy has just brought our lunch out may also have something to do with it," said Des. He left the kitchen rapidly, leaving Mrs G to distribute Des's portion of toad-in-the-hole amongst the lucky others.
"You lucky people, now Des is leaving, you'll all be getting larger portions every day!" said Mrs G.
"Come back Des!" sighed Mick.
"Shhh!" said Clive. "Anyway, as soon as Des has left, house prices will rise and I'll be able to afford to leave too, and so you lot will get even bigger portions!"
Mick raised his eyes to the ceiling and tutted.
"I'm a bit peeved now," said Mike the Manic Mechanic suddenly. "It's always been my dream to buy the Millennium Dome! Ever since I was a little boy!"
"Eh?????" said Mick.
"But I always assumed it would be far too expensive, way out of reach for a skint mechanic such as myself!" said Mike. "But now Des has gone and bought it for a fiver! If only I'd known it had gone up on E-bay, I'd have gone on there and outbid him!"
"What do you want the Millennium Dome for?!" asked Mick.
"It would make a superb rock venue!" said Mike, excitedly. "Just the place for my band Mike and the Mechanics X to play live every night! That dome is definitely the only place big enough to fit all of our adoring fans into!"
"Mike, you'd have trouble filling your shed with all your adoring fans," said Clive.
"And then on our nights off, we'd book the biggest names in rock to fill in for us!" said Mike. "Like Status Quo!!"
"Groovy!" said Dickie. "That sounds wicked!"
"I must have a word with Des," said Mike. "I'm sure I can do a deal with him!"
The next morning, the key to the dome arrived on Des's doormat. Des promptly rang the removal men and they arrived to carry all of his belongings out of the house and into the vans.
"Hey Des!" said Mike, coming up to Des, who was in the middle of carrying his snow dome out.
"Mike, what do you want, can't you see I'm busy!" said Des.
"Hey Des, I've got a proposition!" said Mike. "I'd like to share your Millennium Dome with you! I want to turn it into a fantastic rock venue! Don't worry, we'll still find a space for you to live in!"
"No, now get lost!" said Des.
Mike shrugged his shoulders. He wasn't going to give up that easily.
Once the house was empty, and the vans were full, Des got into his Fiat 126 and got ready to drive away from Tolworth for the final day.
"Typical, I would at least have expected a leaving do," grumbled Des. "Or at the very least for them to see me off! Grr, miserable lot."
The others were not miserable at all, in fact they were busy having a celebratory party at the cafe.
"Well goodbye Tolworth," said Des. "And hello Greenwich!"
Des drove off, following the removal vans round London, and before long they arrived at his new home, the Millennium Dome. He parked his car outside, and walked inside. The last time Des had walked into this building had been to visit the Millennium exhibition.
"Gosh, what a lot of space!" said Des, looking all around. "This place really is massive! I don't think I'm going to be able to fill it up even with my complete collection of 'Yachting Monthly' magazines!"" But although it was huge, five years after the exhibition had closed, the dome was looking a little the worse for wear.
"Hmmm, the roof needs a bit of work," said Des, wiping a raindrop out of his eye. "It's leaking! Oh great! Obviously no one's been looking after this place for a while! It's going rusty! Still, I'm sure it'll do!"
The removal men carried all of Des's furniture and possessions into the dome, and Des tried to put them in some kind of logical arrangement.
"Pity there aren't any internal walls..." thought Des. "I know, I'll try to think of it as a studio apartment...pity there doesn't seem be any mains electricity...oh dear..."
The lack of any walls meant there was also a lack of any power points for Des to plug his appliances into.
"Oh well, good thing I've still got my battered-powered mini black-and-white television!"
Des settled down onto his settee and tried to tune in his mini television - but try as he might, he couldn't get a signal.
"Oh great, I'm going to miss 'Celebrity Sheep Dipping' now!" moaned Des. He heaved a massive sigh. "Cor, it's boring here, isn't it? Plenty of space to put all my 'Yachting Monthly' magazines...but there's nothing to do...nowhere to go... television reception's awful...and occasional random men in hard hats seem to be wandering round the place. And it's cold!!"
Des had realised there was also no heating in the building.
"I don't think I like to very much here after all," said Des. "It's just not very homely, is it?!"
Des tried to think of something to do.
"I know! I'll pop down the cafe, see what the others are doing and see if I can avoid being given something."
But then he realised the cafe was too far away to just pop down to.
"Oh well...I know! I'll pop down the Co-op, get some chocolate biscuits."
But then he realised there wasn't a Co-op, or indeed any other shops, in the vicinity. Des groaned. And then if things couldn't get any worse, without any warning, in walked Dickie the Vicar with a record deck, some coloured lights and a box of Status Quo LPs.
"Oh no, I thought you were joking," said Des.
"I never joke!" said Dickie. "Thing is, no one's turned up to my usual disco at the church hall. So I figured, if the people don't come to your disco, you have to take the disco to the people! There's nowhere that I can't hold one of my groovy discos!"
"You mean there's nowhere I can escape," groaned Des.
"Anyway, before I start can I collect your entrance fee?" said Dickie.
"Are you mad?!" said Des. "You're the one who should be paying an entrance fee to me!"
"Oh gosh, that's right, silly me!!" said Dickie. "Sorry about that, here's the money!"
"Thank you," said Des. "I'll put that towards funds to fix the Millennium Dome roof. See, there's a leak up there! And another one over there!" Dickie looked up and a drop of water fell in his eye.
"Oh dear, I'd better not put my record deck under that dripping then!" said Dickie. "I don't want it ruining my needle!"
After half an hour of suffering Dickie playing Status Quo records, which wasn't too bad since Des simply walked across to the other side of the dome where he couldn't hear him, things got worse - much worse. In walked Mike the Manic Mechanic and his bandmates.
"Mike, what are you doing here?!" said Des.
"Mike and the Mechanics X would like to announce the first in a series of exclusive live dates, right here at the Millennium Dome!!" exclaimed Mike.
"Oh no you don't," said Des.
"Oh yes we do," said Mike.
"This is my dome, I own it and I have every right to evict you from the premises," said Des.
"Okay you lot, bring the gear in!" said Mike, ignoring Des.
Des found himself pushed aside as Mike's band brought in their electric guitars, drums and amplifiers and set them up in the middle of the dome.
"Hey Des, have you seen any of our fans turn up yet?!" said Mike.
"Fans?" said Des. "It's already pretty cool in here, I don't think I need any."
"This gig has been advertised in all the local press, and in the front window of Mrs Greasy's cafe!" said Mike. "Oh there they are!!"
Mike pointed at a couple of men in hard hats who were in the distance. He turned to his bandmates.
"Let's get the show under way, lads!!!"
This time there was no escape. For the next two hours, Des had no choice but to put up with Mike's screeching rock band playing a horrible tuneless racket at maximum volume , which only had one advantage in that it completely drowned out Dickie's disco, not that Dickie appeared to be particularly bothered. Finally, just as it approached Des's bedtime, both Dickie and Mike decided time was up, and they packed up their things.
"See you tomorrow!" said Dickie.
"See you tomorrow!" said Mike.
"Oh thank goodness," said Des, heaving a massive sigh of relief as Dickie and Mike, along with the men in hard hats, left the building. But even after they had gone Des had trouble getting to sleep, thanks to the ringing in his ears, and also because it was freezing cold.
"I've had enough of this," said Des when he woke up the next morning. "I'm going home!"
So he straight drove back to Tolworth, intent on taking his old house back. But when he got there he was shocked to see a BMW 3-series parked in the drive.
"What cheeky monkey's gone and parked that there?!" said Des.
He put his key in the front door, opened in and walked in. He was surprised to find the place fully furnished - not how he had left it the previous morning.
"Who are you?!" said a strange man, walking into the hallway. "What are you doing in my house?!"
"Your house?!" said Des. "This is my house!"
"No it's not!" said the man. "This is my house now! I moved in yesterday!"
"Oh no," groaned Des. "That estate agent certainly didn't waste any time. Well anyway, the point is...what's your name?"
"Tedge," said the man. "Tedge Densday."
"Riiiight," said Des. "You see, the point is...Tedge?!"
"Yes!" said Tedge. "Tedge!"
"Well anyway," said Des, "Mr Hensday. The point is, I've changed my mind. I want to move back."
"Too late," said Tedge. "Hard cheese."
"Have you tasted Mrs Greasy's cookery already?!" said Des.
"I have," said Tedge.
"I know, we'll swap," said Des. "I'll move back in here, and you can move into the Millennium Dome."
"Why on earth would I want to live inside the Millennium Dome?!?!" said Tedge, totally incredulously.
"Well I do," said Des. "It's really nice in there, plenty of space, you'd love it!"
"So why are you so keen to move out then?" said Tedge.
"Um...it's none of your business!" said Des. "So anyway, please can I have my house back?"
"No!" said Tedge. "Now if you don't leave this instant I will call the police!"
"Okay!" said Des, leaving that instant.
Over in the cafe, things were pretty quiet in the usual morning meeting.
"Looks like it's going to be pretty ordinary round here from now on," said Mick. "It's what I've been wishing for for years!"
"That's right!" said Clive. "And now hopefully house prices round here will finally start to rise!"
"I don't feel on edge any more, worried that Des is about to drop me into another of his daft schemes!" said Mick. "It's peaceful, serene!"
"Yes, it's certainly a lot better round here without Des," said Clive.
Just then Des walked in.
"Oh good grief, what do you want?!" exclaimed Clive. "You've supposed to have left!!"
"I've had enough of living in the Millennium Dome," said Des. "I'm coming back!"
Everyone's hearts sank as far as they could go.
"Ah!" said Clive. "But you can't! You're too late! Some bloke's already moved into your house! So there!"
"I know, I've just met him," said Des. "His name's Nedge Hensday or something stupid like that. Have you met him yet?"
"Yes we have, he's a really nice man," said Mick.
"That's right, he's a top bloke!" said Clive.
"Hedge Sensday's cool!" said Wayne.
"Hmmmm," said Des, not impressed. "Has he come in here yet?"
"Yes!" said Mrs G.
"And he still wants to stay?!" said Des.
"Yes!" said Mrs G.
"Oh dear," said Des. "Look you lot, I need a plan. I need you to help me get Tedge to leave the area so I can get my house back!"
"Why?" said Clive. "We don't want you back! We like Tedge better than you!"
"Clive, you could start playing your disco tracks at full volume?!" said Des. "Or Mrs Greasy could start sending him food parcels? Or we could get Files to leave some dung outside his house!"
"No!" was the resounding answer.
"Don't panic Des!" said Mike the Manic Mechanic, bursting in suddenly. "I've got an idea! I'll buy the dome off you! For £4.50!"
"Great," said Des. "But how does that help me get my house back?"
"It doesn't," said Mike. "I'll move into your dome - not only does it make a great rock venue, but it will also be a superb location for the new, expanded Mike's Manic Motors! And then you can move into my vacated premises!"
"MIKE!!" exclaimed Clive.
"So you're prepared to move out of the area, just so I can move back here?" said Des.
"Yip," said Mike. "Granted, it doesn't get you your house back. But it'll get you back in the area!"
"£3.50 it is then!" said Des.
"Fair enough!" grinned Mike, handing Des the money. "Don't forget, my gaff is worth at least £150,000. I'll take a cheque."
And so, much to the upset of Clive and Mick, Des was back in the area. Unfortunately Mike didn't have an actual house - he lived in the back rooms of his garage, which was somewhat smaller than Des's old house. And because he had piled up all of his 'Yachting Monthly' magazines in Mike's back rooms, most of Des's furniture ended up in what was formerly Mike's car showroom - meaning everyone walking and driving past got full view of Des watching television, and sleeping in bed.
Meanwhile Mike the Manic Mechanic took up residence in the Millennium Dome, the new location for Mike's Manic Motors - a car showroom by day, and a rock venue by night. As far as he was concerned, things were great.
But as far as Des was concerned, thing were not so great. Mike had failed to inform his customers of his changed circumstances - and so Des was woken first thing in the morning by someone complaining about spark plugs. Then before he had even had a chance to change out of his pyjamas, a customer arrived, and he was after a car.
"Are you Mike the Manic Mechanic?" said the customer.
"No," said Des.
"Is this Mike's Manic Motors?" said the customer.
"No," said Des.
"It is according to that," said the customer, pointing at the massive 'MIKE'S MANIC MOTORS' sign which was above the forecourt.
"Oh yes, I must remember to take that down," said Des.
"So you're Mike's replacement then?" said the customer. "Well anyway, what I'm after is a classic Ford Capri," said the customer.
"That's nice," said Des. "I hope you find one. By the way, I'm not selling cars." Des remembered the last time he tried selling cars, and it had not been a happy experience.
"Oh I see, I understand now!" said the customer, peering into the showroom. "You've turned it into a furniture shop! Well, actually, as it happens, I'm after a new bed as well! Do you mind if I try out that one you've got on display!"
"No you may not!" said Des. "I'm not selling anything! If you want a new bed, buy one in town. And if you want that Ford Capri, I advise you go and see Mechanic the Michael Mechanical at his new location at the Millennium Dome!!"
"Millennium Dome?!" said the man. "I'm not going all the way over there!"
"Suit yourself," said Des. "I'm going down the cafe!"
And so he did - forgetting that he was still in his pyjamas.
"How's life in Mike's garage?" asked Mick.
"Rubbish," said Des. "I still want my house back - Dedge Fensday!" He gave an evil glare to Tedge, who was sitting there looking rather awkwardly at the rather revolting porridge that Mrs Greasy had just served him.
"You're not getting it back!" said Tedge. "I like it here, and I'm staying!!"
"Yeah, leave Bedge alone!!" said Wayne. "He's great!"
"Yeah!" said Tedge. "By the way, it's Ledge, not Bedge - I mean Tedge! Like your Mickey Mouse pyjamas, Des."
"Doh!" said Des. He walked out of the cafe.
"Nice jim-jams sir!" said PC Plod, as he passed him by.
"I need a plan," said Des. "And I need it fast! Something to get Tedge out of my house!"
Over the years Des had come up with a multitude of daft plans - everything from holding a slug race to building a supersonic car, from having a foreign holiday in his own house to getting Elvis to crash land a UFO into Loch Ness, from buying a canal boat to racing round the M25, from spending the night in a haunted house to holding a pantomime, from running the London Marathon to buying a horse box, from making his own docu-soap to employing a robot, from deciding to have Christmas every day to holding all-day bingo, from trying to sell hot cakes to going deep-sea diving in the River Thames, from converting cars into boats to starting up his own ice cream van.
But this time, when he needed a devious scheme more than ever before, his mind was completely blank. He could not think of anything.
And then just a few days later, the need for a plan become even more important - when Mike the Manic Mechanic arrived at Des's house-cum-showroom.
"Des, I'm taking my garage back," said Mike.
"What?!" said Des. "Whatever for?! What's wrong with the Millennium Dome?!"
"What's wrong with it?!" said Mike. "What's right with it, more like!! It's draughty and cold, horrible to live in, no one's turned up to any of our rock gigs meaning that our latest single has failed to climb any further up the charts than number 4574, and most importantly, because the place is stuck out in the middle of nowhere where no one ever goes, Mike's Manic Motors @ the Millennium Dome has failed to sell a single car since I've moved in!"
"I see," said Des. "Anything else?"
"I've come to realise, this place is at the centre of the community!" said Mike. "I need to come back here. Mike's Manic Motors needs to be situated right here!"
"Right, so where am I supposed to live now?!" said Des. "I still haven't thought up a way of getting that man out of my house!"
"Not my problem Des," said Mike. "There's always that dome!"
"You've got to be joking," said Des. "There's only one place worse I can imagine living in."
"My spare room!" suggested Mrs Greasy when Des popped down the cafe. "I could do with the rent money! Plus I'll do all your cooking for you! Wouldn't that be fantastic!"
"No!" said Des. "No, no, no! I'm desperate, but I'm not that desperate."
Des decided he had no choice but to go down the estate agents and find a new home. So he did.
"Well, I've found it," said Des, when he met the others in the cafe again, later on. "It's a nice house, but it's miles away in Catford, and it looks like I won't be able to see you lot any more."
"HEY HEY HEY!!" said Clive. "It's our lucky day - again!"
"No thanks to you lot," said Des. "If you lot had come up with a plan to get rid of Tedge, I could have had my old house back!"
"You're the one who's supposed to come up with the amazing plans," said Mick. "Usually ridiculous, pointless ones. But the one time you really needed one, you couldn't think of one!"
"I came up with a superb plan!" said Clive. "But...I'm not going to tell it to you! Because Tedge is my new best mate, and I want him to stay in the area! We're playing snooker down the club tonight!"
"Whatever," said Des, sadly. "It doesn't matter, really, I've committed to buying this place in Catford anyway. I'll be out of your hair soon - not that you've got much left, Mick."
Despite that previous comment, Mick reluctantly let Des stay in his spare room for a few nights, while Mike reluctantly let Des keep his furniture in his showroom, until the contracts had been exchanged and Des could move into his new house in Catford.
The morning that Des was due to move into his new house soon arrived. But as he watched the breakfast news on the television that morning (something he never normally did since he was not usually up that early) he got a massive surprise.
"Police are searching for a man who illegally sold the Millennium Dome on a popular internet auction site for five pounds," said the newsreader. "The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said in that whiney voice of his, "I own the Millennium Dome, how dare this con man try to sell it when it isn't his to sell!"
"Why does Ken Livingstone want to live in the Millennium Dome?" said Des.
"Police have issued a photofit picture of the man they suspect of selling the Dome," said the newsreader. "They are also searching for the bird-brain twenty-four carat idiot who bought it."
Des gasped when he saw the photofit.
"YES!! OH YES!!" he exclaimed. It clearly depicted the face of Tedge Densday.
"No," said Mick. "Oh no."
Without delay, Des got in touch with Scotland Yard, and in no time at all Tedge, who admitted that he had illegally sold the Millennium Dome on E-Bay, found himself behind bars. Tedge's house was free - and Des was now free to move back in.
"YIPPEEE!!!" exclaimed Des as the removal men (who had recently made am awful lot of money out of Des continually moving all over the place) moved all his furniture back into his old house. "YIPPEEE!! Des Wednesday is officially back in town!"
"Great," sighed Mick. "Look at poor Clive."
Des looked round at Clive's house, where Clive was sat on his doorstep, sobbing.
"Ha ha ha!!" laughed Des. "Well, thank goodness that's all over! Everything's back to normal."
"What now for the Millennium Dome, then?" said Mick.
"Apparently, Ken Livingstone has decided to set up a massive interactive exhibition in there," said Des.
"Sounds great," said Mick.
"Yup," said Des.
Copyright © Robert Williams