This story

THE TOLWORTH INTERNATIONAL AIR GUITAR CHAMPIONSHIPS

by Robert Williams

Des and Mick were sitting in Mrs Greasy's cafe, not doing much, when Dickie the Vicar burst in, his face aghast.

"Morning groovers!" exclaimed Dickie. "It's bad news I'm afraid!! I'm mortified to be able to announce that tonight's charity disco to raise funds to fix the church roof has been cancelled!!!"

"HOORAY!!!" exclaimed Des and Mick.

"But why???" asked Mick.

"Some fiend has broken into the church hall and stolen my decks!!" said Dickie.

"Oh dear what a shame," said Des.

Dickie had been followed into the cafe by PC Plod.

"Now here are the two prime suspects, PC Plod!!" said Dickie.

"What?!?!" exclaimed Des. "Us?!?! Prime suspects?!?!"

"Quite right!" said Mrs Greasy, coming out of the kitchen with Des and Mick's lunch. "There's no use trying to deny it, every single morning these two whinge and moan about having to go to Dickie's disco!

"Oh, well, um..." said Mick.

"Would the pair of you care to accompany me to the station where I can conduct some enquiries?" said Plod.

"Come on PC Plod, it wasn't us who stole Dickie's decks!!" whined Des. "HONEST!!!"

"Fair enough then," said Plod.

"Hey PC Plod, the real reason I called you," said Dickie. "Is there any possibility I could borrow your record decks in the meantime?"

"No chance, sir," said PC Plod. "I need them for tonight's charity disco to raise funds to fix the roof of the police social club. You could all come along. DJ PC Plod is going to be hitting the decks with some cracking tunes, such as 'I Fought the Law and the Law Won' by The Clash, 'Gangsters' by The Specials, and of course the greatest hits of The Police."

"I think I'll give it a miss, if it's all the same to you," said Mick.

"Come on PC Plod, you've gotta find me my decks!!" said Dickie.

"Okay then sir, I'll see what I can do," said PC Plod. "Good day to you." He left the cafe.

"Aren't the police fab!!" said Dickie. "Always handy to have them available for emergencies! The fire brigade and ambulance service as well!! Grooooovy!!"

"Great!" said Des. "Of course, this means I can actually do something interesting this evening!"

Just then Mike the Manic Mechanic burst in.

"Hi there, you crazy cafe dwellers!!" exclaimed Mike. "Exciting news!! Tonight marks the first ever Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships!! And you're all invited!!!"

"Oh well, never mind," sighed Des.

"Air Guitar Championships?!" said Mick. "How ridiculous can you get?!"

"As ridiculous as this!!" exclaimed Mike. "Tonight at 7.30, all of the world's greatest air guitarists from Tolworth will gather to determine just who is the world's greatest air guitarist from Tolworth!!"

"Sounds rather boring," said Des. "Where is it?"

"Now, funny you should ask that," said Mike. "I did try to book the Royal Albert Hall. Only problem is, apparently it's already been booked for something called The Proms, whatever that is. So anyway, instead we're holding it at Des's house."

"WHAT?!?!?!?!" exclaimed Des. "You can't do that!!! I don't want a load of hairy rockers hanging round my house!! Why didn't you ask me first?!"

"I'm asking you now!" said Mike. "Des, can we hold the Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships at your house?!"

"NO!!" said Des.

"Well it's too late now, we've had the tickets printed," said Mike.

"This gives me an amazing idea!!!" exclaimed Dickie, rushing off.

Des was having his tea that evening when he began hearing the sounds of motors outside his house.

"Oh no, they're here already!!" exclaimed Des. He went and peered out of the front window, where he saw various motorcycles and cars with dodgy bodykits gathering outside. "I know what I'll do, I'll pretend I'm not in."

And so when the participants in the Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships started ringing the doorbell, Des simply didn't answer the door. However his plan backfired when, after receiving no answer at the front door they all came in round the back door. They all started gathering in the kitchen.

"Hi dude, you must be Des!" said one of the entrants to him. All of the entrants into the contest seemed to have long hair and were wearing leather jackets and denims.

"Yes I am, and I'm sorry to say that the contest has been cancelled!!" exclaimed Des. "Sorry about that, but there you go! Looks like you'll all have to go home now!!"

"Don't listen to him, he's only larking about!!" exclaimed Mike the Manic Mechanic, walking into the kitchen. "Of course the contest's still on!!! Come on through!!"

Then to make matters worse, in walked a camera crew, led by a man with a beard, long flowing hair and a comedy regional accent.

"Who are you?!" exclaimed Des.

"Hi there, my name's Justin Lee Collins!" said the man in his comedy regional accent. "I'm here to cover the Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships for UK Daft Ideas!!"

"Oh..." said Des.

Mike, JLC, the camera crew and the contestants all bustled past Des and quickly took over his living room.

"Welcome dudes, to the first annual Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships!!" exclaimed Mike, as the crowd settled down and the contest got under way. "I'm privileged to be able to say that air guitarists have flown in far and wide from all over Tolworth to join us tonight for this exciting event! Also, a quick thanks to Des Wednesday for giving over his house to hosting the contest!"

The air guitarists cheered as Des, who had found himself squashed in the middle of the crowd, pulled a miserable face.

"Now here's the prize you're all competing for!! Look at this!!" Mike pretended to pick up a guitar, though being an air guitar, there was in fact nothing there. "Yes, one of you could win this amazing Rickenbacker air guitar!!!" The contestants oohed and arred.

"Good grief," mumbled Des.

"All the contestants tonight will be playing air guitar to tracks from the latest album from none other than Mike and the Mechanics X!!" Mike held out a copy of his new CD and made sure the cameras got full view of it. "So let the contest begin!! Will the first competitor step this way!!"

The first long-haired rocker stepped up to the front of the crowd.

"First of all, please choose an air guitar from the rack!!" said Mike, pointing towards the radiator.

Des looked on in bewilderment as the contestant deliberated for a while, before miming picking up a non-existent guitar from the non-existent rack. Mike popped his CD into Des's hi-fi system and turned the volume right up to the max. Des was then forced to put his hands over his ears as the contestant started enthusiastically playing air guitar to Mike's horrible loud rock music, with the rest of the audience whooping, cheering, and headbanging.

So Des decided it would be best if he sheltered in the hallway for a bit. He fought his way out of the living room and sat down on the stairs. Before long he saw a face appear in the window of his front door. Presumably this mystery visitor had rung the doorbell, but due to the deafening racket coming from his living room, Des had been unable to hear it. So he opened the door, and the mystery visitor was no longer a mystery - in fact, it was only Dickie the Vicar.

Dickie started opening and closing his mouth, so Des assumed he was saying something, but once again the music was so loud it was impossible to hear a word he was saying. However, knowing Dickie the Vicar, it would obviously have been something of very little importance, so once he stopped opening and closing his mouth, Des simply waved goodbye to him and closed the front door.

It wasn't long before Des couldn't stand the noise any longer, and so he decided to go out for a walk in the night air. Unfortunately Mike's rock music was still audible outside, so he kept walking, and walking, until it was finally out of earshot. He then stopped walking - and noticed he was right outside the church hall. As it was getting cold, he went inside.

"After all," said Des to himself, "it must be safe to come in here, it's not like Dickie could be holding a disco!!"

But, oh no, it wasn't safe at all. Mick, Clive and Wayne were there as well, also seeking refuge from the noise of the Air Guitar Championships. And so was Dickie - standing on the stage where his decks were normally situated, with his hand over one ear, and miming scratching some record decks with the other.

"What's going on?!" said Des. "Is he all right?!"

"It's Dickie's air disco," said Mick. "Listen."

"Hey groovers, let's get down now to another hip tune from those hipsters Status Quo!!!" said Dickie. Then he started singing. "Down down, deeper and down, down down, deeper and down..."

"This is awful!!" exclaimed Des, putting his hands over his ears to block out Dickie's tuneless rendition of the Quo's biggest hits. "Why don't we go down DJ PC Plod's disco? Desperate times call for desperate measures!"

"We've already been," said Mick. "It's even worse than this! DJ PC Plod announces all the records as if you're in for police questioning!" He impersonated DJ PC Plod: "'Who Were You With in the Moonlight?' 'What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes At Me For?'"

"Oh sorry," said Des. "I think I'll go back home!"

When he arrived back home, he was relieved to find that the air guitar contest was drawing to a close.

"So that's all from the championships tonight!" said Justin Lee Collins to the camera in Des's hallway. "Join as again tomorrow night for Heat 2!!"

"WHAT?!?!?!" exclaimed Des. "HEAT 2?!?!? I thought this was all there was!!"

"Absolutely not!" said JLC to Des. "We've got all the heats, the quarter finals, the semi finals and the final!! Then we move onto the Junior Tolworth International Air Guitar Championships!!"

Des was starting to lose the will to live - until he had an idea. He fought his way into the living room, through the crowd of rockers who at the same time were trying to fight their way out of the living room, and found Mike the Manic Mechanic.

"Hey Mike, Dickie's agreed to hold the rest of the championships in the church hall!" said Des. Dickie, of course, had done no such thing, but Des knew that he probably wouldn't even notice.

"Great idea, Des, your living room is too cramped anyway!" said Mike. "We had been thinking about knocking this wall through into the dining room, but this saves us the trouble!!"

And so the next night, Heat 2 of the Air Guitar Championships took place in the church hall, with Dickie once again standing on the stage running his air disco, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a bunch of rockers were sharing the stage with him, playing air guitar to tracks from Mike's new album. Des, meanwhile, had a peaceful night at home for once - well, almost peaceful, since Wayne had just launched the Tolworth International Air One Man Band Championships at his house over the road.

Sadly though, it was not to last. Unfortunately, Dickie's austere boss, Nicholas the Parson, happened to be driving past the church hall on his way home from an organ recital. But when he heard the loud rock music emanating from the hall, he stopped his car and stormed inside.

"What is going on in here?!?!" exclaimed a furious Nicholas. He fought his way through the crowd of rockers and got up onto the stage.

"Oi, you can't just walk in like this, you've got to apply if you want to take part!!" exclaimed Mike.

"Reverend Rogers!!!" exclaimed Nicholas.

"Oh, hi there Nicky!" said Dickie.

"This is a wholly inappropriate use of church property!!" exclaimed Nicholas. "This time, you've gone too far! Everybody out!!"

Mike, JLC and the air guitarists had no option but to troop back up the road to Des's house to finish off Heat 2. Des's heart sank when all they started coming in through his back door again.

"What's happened?!?!" exclaimed Des.

"Dickie the Vicar's been sacked!!" exclaimed Mike.

And it was true - Nicholas the Parson had dismissed Dickie from the clergy with immediate effect, and evicted him and Mrs Dickie from the vicarage. Mrs Greasy agreed to let them stay in her spare room at the cafe until alternative accommodation could be arranged. They, and all the other usual people, were attending the meeting the following morning at the cafe when PC Plod burst in with some good news for Dickie.

"I'm pleased to announce that following a police raid on the church hall last night, we have found your decks," said Plod.

"Police raid?!" said Dickie. "I was at the church hall last night with my fab air disco, and I didn't notice any police raid!!" That's not saying very much, seeing as Dickie hadn't noticed the crowd of air guitarists either.

"We were working undercover," said Plod. "(And I'm through to the quarter finals!) Anyway, we found your decks in the back room."

"So they weren't stolen after all!!" said Dickie.

"That's right!" said Mrs Dickie. "I told you, Dickie, in order that I could hoover the stage, I moved your decks into the back room!"

"Oh!" said Dickie. "I thought you said that Ant and Dec were coming back soon!! What a silly billy I am!!"

"Ah, all's well that ends well," said PC Plod, leaving the cafe before he got served anything to eat.

"Only thing is," said Dickie, "now I've been sacked, I have no use for my decks any more!!"

"I'll buy them off you!!" said Mike the Manic Mechanic. "I'll take £50 for them!!"

"Wow, what a bargain!!" said Dickie. "Here's the cash!!" The others looked in bemusement as Dickie handed over £50 in cash to Mike.

"I'll go and pick them up now!!" said Mike. As he rushed out the door, the dreary figure of Nicholas the Parson walked in.

"Good morning, sirs and madams," said Nicholas. "I would like to inform you all that following the dismissal of the Reverend Richard Rogers, I shall be taking charge of this parish until a permanent replacement can be appointed. Now, I am aware that the Reverend Rogers was in the process of raising money to fix the church roof, and so this work must continue. Therefore you are all invited to the church hall tonight at 7.30, where I shall be holding an evening of choral music, and I trust you will all attending. Good day to you." He then walked out again.

"Choral music?!?!?!" exclaimed Des. "BORING!!!!"

But faced with either that, or having to suffer Heat 3 of the Air Guitar Championships at his house, Des reluctantly chose the choral evening, even though he had to pay for the privilege And so did all the others.

"This is so depressing," muttered Des, as they sat at the back of the hall, while Nicholas the Parson sat on the stage playing them CDs of choral music. "Even Dickie's discos used to be less boring than this!"

"Too right!!" said Dickie.

"Even DJ PC Plod's disco was less boring than this!" said Mick. "And that's saying something!!"

"We can only hope a new vicar gets found quickly, then," said Des.

"I doubt it," said Mrs Dickie. "It's getting increasingly difficult to recruit people to the clergy in this day and age!"

"I know!" said Des. "Why doesn't Dickie apply for his own job back! Only make himself look younger and pretend to be someone else! Hey, it worked for me, didn't it!!"

"Make Dickie look younger?" said Mick. "That'll be a challenge!"

"No talking at the back there!" called Nicholas from the stage. "Just enjoy the music!"

The next morning, the usual people gathered, as usual, in the cafe.

"Oh, I hope Dickie passes the job interview," said Des. "I don't think I could stand another evening listening to that depressing music!"

"I very much doubt it," said Mick. "Nicholas the Parson is an intelligent man, I hardly think Dickie dyeing his hair black is going to fool him!"

Just then in walked Mrs Dickie - with another lady who looked strangely familiar.

"Who's that?!?!" said Mick.

"Greetings parish pickers!" said the newcomer, in a high-pitched voice.

"It's Dickie," groaned Des.

"That's amazing, how did you see through my fabbo disguise?!?!" said Dickie.

"Talent," said Des.

"We did try making him look younger, but there was nothing we could do!" said Mrs Dickie.

"That's right, we couldn't make me look any younger than I already do, i.e. about 25", said Dickie. There were sniggers all round.

"So instead, let me introduce you to Dickie's sister, Victoria!" said Mrs Dickie.

"Vicky the Dicar," said Des. "I mean, Vicky the Vicar."

"For goodness sake, you seriously expect to fool Nicholas the Parson by dressing up as a lady?!" said Mick.

"I already have!" said Dickie/Vicky. "I've got the job!!"

"That was quick!" said Des.

"That's right, Nicky did say he had to keep the interview short, as he had an appointment at the opticians," said Dickie/Vicky. "So now I've got my job back, I can start holding fab discos again!!"

"No you can't, you sold your decks, remember," said Mick.

"Oh botherations!" said Dickie.

"Hey, I've got some decks I could sell you!!" exclaimed Mike the Manic Mechanic. "I'll let you have them for, oh, say £100!!"

"Fabbo!!" exclaimed Dickie. "What a bargain!!"

"I'll just go and fetch them out the back room of the church hall," said Mike, rushing off.

"So everything's all right again!" said Dickie.

"Not quite," said Des. "I've still got that Tolworth Air Guitar rubbish taking place in my house!!"

Des was still pondering this problem that afternoon at home, as he finished clearing up the litter left by the air guitarists the previous evening, and settled down to watch 'Bodger and Badger'. He happened to glance over at the radiator - and the answer came to him.

He got up again, and pretended to pick up a non-existent guitar from the non-existent rack that wasn't really there. He then proceeded to mime smashing up the air guitar as if he was a member of The Who.

"There!" said a satisfied Des, once he had finished pretending to destroy all of the pretend guitars. "And if this works, I'll be amazed."

Later that evening, Mike the Manic Mechanic, Justin Lee Collins, the television crew, and another crowd of rockers, all turned up at Des's house for Heat 4. But as soon as Mike walked into Des's living room, he gasped in abject horror.

"Des, what's happened?!?!" exclaimed Mike, staring at the carpet. "The guitars!!! They've all been smashed up!!"

"I wonder how that happened," said Des.

"Do you know how much those things cost?!" said Mike. "What am I going to do, I've got a contract with UK Daft Ideas for 26 weeks of this!!"

"'Ere Mike, I've heard that Dickie (or Vicky or whatever his name is) has just had a job lot of air church organs delivered down the church hall!"

"So?" said Mike.

"Mike, air guitars are all yesterday's news!" said Des. "That's what they said on this programme I was watching earlier on UK Daft Ideas. Air church organs are all the rage nowadays!!"

"You're right!!" said Mike. "Come on everyone, we're all going down the church hall!!"

"Phew," said Des, as everyone trooped out of his house and down the road to the church hall, where Dickie had already just started his usual fund raising disco, except that Des had surreptitiously replaced his Status Quo LPs with some records of church organ music that belonged to Mick.

And so, oblivious to Dickie, the Tolworth International Air Church Organ Championships got under way at the church hall, to which not even Nicholas the Parson could possibly object, and Des enjoyed a quiet night at home (well, almost quiet since Heat 3 of Wayne's Air One Man Band Championships were taking place across the road).

But it was not to last. The viewership of UK Daft Ideas did not concur with the switch from air guitar to air church organ, and ratings collapsed, meaning that just one night later their coverage was dropped in favour of repeats of 'The Good Life'. And without the support of the channel, Mike had no option but to cancel the Tolworth International Air Church Organ Championships altogether.

Not good news for Des, who therefore found himself being dragged back down the church hall every night for Dickie's usual discos. Yes folks, everything was back to normal.


Copyright © Robert Williams
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