by Robert Williams

Wayne Coach the window cleaner was back again. The windows of the headquarters of the Sunset Insurance Company were particularly prone to getting covered in mud. Employee Dave Presley always put the blame on Farmer Files, who owned the pig farm opposite.

The only concern of Mick Woolley, a bored computer operator, was the amount of dirty water that was deposited on his desk every time Wayne had finished cleaning the windows.

After this had happened for the hundredth time Mick decided to take action. He smashed the window with his chair, threw his desk and computer out of it and knocked Wayne off the window sill. Mick then stormed out of the building in a rage and took the train home (British Rail subsequently contacted him and asked if they could have the train back).

Six hours later (leaves on the line had caused delays, despite it being June) he arrived back home to Chelmsford. He went to see his next door neighbour, the fount of wisdom, Desmond Wednesday for some advice.

"Well Mick," said Des, putting down last Thursday's 'Sunday Express' colour supplement, "I think you should go and see your boss tomorrow morning and ask for a pay rise."

"What a brilliant idea!" exclaimed Mick.

The next morning Mick got up at four o'clock, so he could get the 5.33 train and get him to work by nine o'clock if there were not too many leaves that morning. At eleven o'clock, when he arrived, he went straight to the office of his boss, Doug Whitehouse.

Fifteen seconds later he left Doug Whitehouse's office and went home.

"You're home early," remarked Mick's wife Nora, at eight o'clock when he got in.

"The wrong kind of snow!" snapped Mick.

"In June??" said Nora.

"That's why it was the wrong kind of snow!! Anyway, I've been sacked! And it was all Des Wednesday's fault!"

"Look on the bright side," said Nora. "Now you'll have time to mow the lawn."

Mick groaned and went to the Dog and Duck-billed Platypus.

The next day Mick got up and went straight next door to see Des.

"Morning Des," said Mick.

"Afternoon Mick," said Des. "It's half past one." He was lunching on his favourite food, chocolate biscuits.

"I'm bored," said Mick.

"Already?!" exclaimed Des. "You've only been unemployed for a day!"

"Don't you get bored?" said Mick.

Des was used to the stay-at-home lifestyle, being an extremely rich bachelor having inherited a huge sum of money from his deceased Big Uncle Tim Cheese Wednesday. However, since he was a modest fellow, Des just used the money on everyday living, and so lived in ordinary semi in an ordinary suburban street in Chelmsford.

"Never," said Des. "There's so many things you can do!"

"Such as?" said Mick.

"You can mow the lawn," said Des. "And, er, you the dusting...and, er...make the beds... um...erm...see, there's lots of things you can do!"

"I think I'd rather be an office worker," said Mick.

"Are you going to look for another job?" asked Des. "If you're really desperate I'll let you have some of my fortune."

Des was hoping and expecting Mick to say that he was too proud to accept his kind, charitable offer. But...

"Hey, thanks a lot Des! I know I can count on you!"

Des sighed.

"But I'm still bored," said Mick.

"In that case there's only one thing we can do," said Des. "We'll have to go around the UK in eighty days."

"Michael Palin managed to go round the world in eighty days," said Mick.

"Yes, but I don't like going abroad very much," said Des. "You catch nasty diseases, such as foreign languages. So do you want to go then?"

"Yes, of course!" said Mick. "It's a brilliant idea!"

"I know," said Des. "Sometimes I'm so brilliant I amaze myself."

Mick went next door to tell Nora the good news. However he found he could not get in through the front door, because there was a ladder in the way. Nora's head appeared through the window.

"I thought the windows needed cleaning," she said.

"That window cleaner isn't called Wayne, is he?" groaned Mick.

"No, no," said Nora. "He's a guy called Elvis. He's the brother of one of your old work colleagues, Dave Presley, I think. Anyway, have you mowed the lawn yet?"

Mick groaned, and went back next door to Des.

"Don't worry about Nora, she won't notice we've gone," said Mick.

"So let's go!!" exclaimed Des, enthusiastically.

Des and Mick packed their belongings.

"Are you sure you're taking enough?" said Mick, looking at Des's bulging suitcases.

"I'm not sure if they have chocolate biscuits in the North," said Des. "So I've decided to take along some spares, just in case."

Mick sighed.

"Anyway, I've worked out the route," said Des. "We'll use the M25 to get everywhere. Brilliant invention, the M25."

"But what about Scotland?" said Mick.

"I prefer the M25."

"No, no, I mean the M25 doesn't go anywhere near Scotland! Or Cornwall! Or Norfolk, or Shropshire, Anglesey, Newcastle..."

"Oh you have to put a downer on things, don't you Mick! Just trust me!"

Mick was not sure if this was a wise idea, but decided to trust Des anyway. The daring duo packed into Des's ageing Fiat 126 and they set off. But before they had got anywhere near the M25 they came across an serious obstacle. Farmer Files had left a group of pigs in the road.

"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Farmer Files in his broad West Country accent, as he always did. "'Ello Des and Mick!!"

"Get those smelly pigs out of the way!" shouted Des from the car.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! Moi porkers not be smelly!!!" exclaimed a furious looking Files.

"You must never call Farmer Files's pigs smelly!!" said Mick to Des as they hurriedly drove off in the other direction.

"What are we going to do then?" said Des.

"We could go a different..." started Mick.

"I know!" exclaimed Des. "We should write a letter to the Agriculture Minister and get those pigs moved."

They drove back to Des's house, wrote a letter and sent it off. After six days of pacing up and down in the kitchen a reply arrived. However, when Des looked more closely at the letter it turned out it was actually a window cleaning bill from Wayne.

"I'm not paying that!" exclaimed Des. "He was hopeless! He just cleaned a load of mucky water all over my windows!"

"I wonder where that could have come from," said Mick.

"I wish that agricultural man would hurry up and reply," said Des. "Perhaps Farmer Files is the Agriculture minister. There isn't anyone else more fitting for the job!"

"No, Files takes his pigs with him everywhere. If he was the minister then the House of Commons would be overrun with porkers!"

"Not that you'd be able to tell any difference," said Des.

"Look Des, why don't we just take another..." started Mick.

"Anyway," said Des. "Do you fancy a chocolate biscuit?"

"Not really..."

They waited another two months, but still there was no reply to their letter.

"I've been thinking Mick," said Des. "It would probably be best if we just took another route!"

"That's brilliant!" said Mick. "It's exactly what I thought we should have..."

"Come on Mick, don't stand there waffling, we've got to get moving!"

So they left again. Once they had got halfway to Dartford on the M25 Mick told Des to pull over.

"No, I'm wearing a jumper!" exclaimed Des. He pulled over onto the hard shoulder, by an emergency motorway telephone.

"Is this an emergency?" said Des.

"Yes, I want to know how Nora's getting on with the ironing."

Mick got out, and picked up the phone - and got straight through to the police.

"Sorry, wrong number!" exclaimed Mick, putting the phone down and leaving the police confused as to how someone can dial a wrong number when the telephone hasn't even got a dial.

"We'll just have to get off at the next junction and find a phone box," sighed Des, who just wanted to get on with the journey. They left the motorway at junction four and eventually came across a phone box. Mick phoned the number.

"Hello Nora, Mick here," was the shockingly amazingly different way Mick greeted Nora when she answered. "Done the ironing?"

"I don't know anyone called Mick. You must have the wrong number. Goodbye."

She hung up. Mick decided it would be better to carry on with the journey with Des. However, disaster struck when Des realised something.

"I've left my toothbrush at home!!!"

"Oh Des!" moaned Mick. "We're never going to get round the UK in eighty days at this rate! We've got as much chance of doing that as there is of aliens landing in your front garden!"

They drove back to Des's house. Des fetched his toothbrush and, since they were there, decided to have a quick cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits.

Des was rather slow getting through the six packets of biscuits he decided to have, so once Mick had finished his cup of tea he was so bored waiting that he went outside to see if the grass needed cutting. However, as soon as he had stepped outside the front door he stopped dead in his tracks and gasped.

"What's wrong Mick?!" called Des from the kitchen.

"Hey Des," called Mick, with a quiver in his voice. "There's a group of aliens in your front garden."

Des froze, dropping his tea. He finished off his chocolate biscuits and then hurried outside (Des knew his priorities). But Mick was nowhere to be seen. All he could see was a group of aliens standing in his front garden. Des was horrified.

Then he too was gone.

Copyright © Robert Williams

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