by Robert Williams
The date: 1st December 1999.
The location: Mrs Greasy's Little Cafe, Tolworth.
The event: the morning meeting.
"Isn't it really rather scary?" said Des.
"You mean that mashed potato Mrs Greasy's just served us?" said Mick.
"Well yes, but what's even more scary," said Des, "is that there's only one month left of the 1990s! This decade seemed like the distant future for so long - and now it's nearly over already!"
"It's really flashed past, I agree," said Mick.
"It just doesn't seem like anything's happened this decade," said Des.
"I beg to differ," said Clive. "Think of all the things that are now commonplace! Go back ten years - no one had heard of the internet or e-mail!"
"There was no Mr Blobby, or 'Noel's House Party'!" said Mrs Greasy.
"There was no Spice Girls, no Take That, no Oasis, no Teletubbies!" said Clive.
"No National Lottery, no Millennium dome, no digital television," said Mick. "And no one had heard of Tony Blair!"
"Or even 'The Chronicles of Des and Mick'!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "But then still no one has."
"That's true," said Des. "And 1990 does seem a long time ago, I suppose. Maybe we should have a special party to celebrate!!"
"Never mind the end of the nineties," said Mick. "Everyone else is celebrating the end of the millennium!!"
"Oh yes, I had forgotten about that," said Des. The others sniggered. (He had obviously already forgotten about the last comment he made in the previous chapter).
"How could you forget?! Have you had your head stuck in the sand for the past year?!" exclaimed Mick.
"All right then, let's have a millennium party!" exclaimed Des. "And invite everyone!!!"
"Like who?" said Mick.
"Why don't we invite all the people who used to be in the stories? Like Doug Whitehouse, Ralph Berkshire, Dennis Switch, Bones and Whoson, and even the Village Idiot!"
"Great," sighed Mick.
"And then we can invite the biggest celebrities in the country!" said Des. "Like Terry Wogan, Noel Edmonds, Des Lynam, Keith Chegwin, Dave Lee Travis, John Major, Anne Robinson, Eamonn Holmes, Carol Vorderman, Her Majesty the Queen, Timmy Mallett, Basil Brush, Andy Crane, Tony Blackburn, Jerry Springer, Janet Street-Porter and Bruno Brookes! And we could invite Abba to reform and play live!!"
"Could I just point out," said Clive, "that the new millennium doesn't start until 2001."
"Don't be ridiculous," said Des. "So where shall we hold our party?" said Des.
"The church hall I suppose..." said Mick.
"I've got a better idea," said Des. "Why don't we build a replica of the millennium dome!!!"
"Because you actually want people to turn up?" said Mick.
"This could be really great!" exclaimed Des. "What a clever idea of mine! I'll build a mini millennium dome in my garden!"
"That's got to be the silliest idea I've ever heard from you," said Clive. "Well, since the last one."
"What else shall we do for the millennium?" said Mick.
"I've got an idea," said Mrs Greasy. "Why don't we get a time capsule?"
"A time capsule!" exclaimed Des. "That sounds exciting! Wow! A real time capsule! What's one of those then?"
"You put lots of things in it, then bury it in the ground for future generations to dig it up in hundreds of years time," explained Mrs G.
"Oh how boring," said Des.
"I think it's a good idea," said Mick.
"Well you would," said Des.
"I think each of us should put one thing in it," said Mrs Greasy.
"Do you think we could bury Clive in it?" said Des.
"Be sensible, Des," said Mick. "I think I'll put a copy of the newspaper in it."
"Oh great," sighed Des."I'll put a bottle of hair gel in it," said Clive, "if I can find one spare."
"I'll put one of my meat pies in it," said Mrs G.
"Urrghh!" exclaimed Des.
"Don't worry, they keep for ages," said Mrs G.
"Just as well, since no one ever eats them," said Clive.
"I'll put the latest CD by DJ Mudflap and the Loopy Postman!" said Wayne. "'Cos I hate it!"
"What will you put in it, Des?" asked Mick.
"I'm not sure, I expect I can find some old tat I want to get rid of," said Des.
"Jolly good then," said Mrs G.
Just then who walked in the cafe but Farmer Files, with his hand mysteriously behind his back.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" he exclaimed.
"Farmer Files!" said Mick. "We haven't see you for a while!"
"Oi've been very busy up at the farm lately!" said Files. "Oi've been readyin' moi latest marketin' opportuni'y!"
"What's that then?" asked Des.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! In a unique partnership between Farmer Foiles Millennium Pig Farms Ltd and British Gnomes - it be the Millennium Gnome!!" exclaimed Files. He brought his hand out and revealed to them a sparkling silver gnome shaped remarkably like Files himself.
"Good grief!" said Clive. "That looks dreadful!"
"Yes, it's absolutely awful!" said Mick. "What sad person want something like that?"
"Oooooh arrrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files, not best pleased.
"How much are they?" asked Des.
"£17.50 plus VAT," replied Files.
"I'll take one," said Des. He handed the money to Files, who handed the gnome over.
"Great, now I've got something to shove in that time capsule," said Des.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. "Anyone else be wantin' a Millennium Gnome?! It be a bargain at just £17.50 plus VAT!!"
"You're asking if anyone WANTS one?" said Clive, incredulous.
Millennium fever continued apace, as the gang cashed in on the rapid approach of the year 2000. Mrs Greasy, whose cafe was renamed from Mrs Greasy's Little Cafe to Mrs Greasy's Millennium Cafe, knitted some cuddly millennium bugs, and gave her customers sparkling millennium mugs to drink out of, while Mick bought a millennium rug.
Files managed to not sell any of his millennium gnomes, while Dave cornered the market in sparkling millennium combs, and Mike, whose garage was renamed from Mike's Manic Motors to Mike's Millennium Manic Motors, decided it would be a good idea to sell some millennium foam.
Meanwhile, over in Des's back garden, one of the centrepieces of the UK's millennium celebrations, his very own millennium dome, was beginning to take shape. Des had made a visit to Greenwich to observe the real dome, and was trying to build his replica as close to the original as he could manage. So far he had stuck a load of beanpoles in the ground.
"That's going to look dreadful when it's finished," said Mick.
"What do you mean?" said Des. "It's going to be fab-tastic! And the greatest party ever is going to be held inside! I've now sent off all of the invitations to all my celebrity guests, by the way."
"Any replies?" asked Mick.
"Not quite yet," said Des. "Now I must get on with building my dome."
Christmas 1999 came and went, and Millennium Eve approached. It looked for a time that Des's millennium dome would not be finished in time, mainly because he got so busy doing Christmas shopping that he forgot about it for a week. Meanwhile, the gang filled their time capsule with all the useless old rubbish they could find, for people in years to dig up and laugh at. Mrs Greasy buried it in her back yard.
"How will anyone know it's there to dig up?" asked Des. "Will there still be a cafe here in centuries' time?"
"Absolutely," said Mrs G. "I believe there will be generations of Greasys to come who will run this cafe for many hundreds of years!"
"What a horrible thought," said Des, shuddering.
On 30th December, the gang met for their penultimate morning meeting of the 20th century.
"Actually that's next year," pointed out Clive.
"Don't be ridiculous," sighed Des.
"Suit yourself," said Clive.
"Finished your dome yet?" asked Mrs Greasy.
"Yes, it's all completed, bang on schedule," said Des. "There were some concerns that the Jubilant Line extension, which provides a direct tube link between Central London and my house, would not be finished on time either, but that's all ready and open for all my top celebrities to come and visit."
"What a load of rubbish you talk," said Clive.
"Do you want to come and see?" asked Des.
Unenthusiastically, the crew went over to Des's house - not using the Jubilant Line - to view the completed dome. Over the beanpoles, Des had draped some tarpaulin with holes in it, so that the beanpoles poked through.
"It doesn't look very sturdy," said Mick.
"What's that wheel over there for?" asked Clive.
Next to the dome was an upright bicycle wheel attached to a bit of wood.
"It's the Tolworth Eye," said Des. "My version of the millennium wheel. I'm charging £10 a go for people to sit on it. Any offers?"
"You must be joking!" exclaimed Mick.
"Yes please!" exclaimed Wayne. "What a bargain!!"
Wayne handed Des a tenner, and sat on the wheel.
"Wow!!!" exclaimed Wayne. "You can even see yer greenhouse from up here, Des!!"
"Come on," said Mick, "let's look inside your dome."
They walked through the flap that was the front entrance, and inside it was just big enough for the five of them to stand up. Des had spread balloons and streamers all over the place.
"You'll never fit all your guests in here!" said Mick.
"Well I haven't got a very big garden, have I?" said Des. "It'll do, but Abba might have to play on the patio though."
"Who's doing the catering?" asked Mick. "Mrs Greasy?"
"Get real!" said Des. "I want something edible for my guests! You can't give the Queen food cooked by Mrs Greasy! I'm getting some sausage rolls from down the Co-op."
The next day - the big day - and tragedy struck. As Des was putting a few finishing touches to his dome, the whole thing collapsed around him.
"I don't believe it!!" he exclaimed, once he had crawled out from under the tarpaulin.
"Well done Des!!" called over Mick, who was trimming the hedge in his garden. "What are you going to do now? Are you going to call the party off?"
"No way!" exclaimed Des. "I've got some huge stars on their way right now! But I'll never have time to rebuild my dome now. We'll just have to hold it somewhere else. I wonder where..."
Des headed straight off to the church hall to ask Dickie the Vicar if they could hold their party there.
"Hmmm," said Dickie. "You can, but it's a little inconvenient. Is there no chance of moving it to another night?"
"Oh Dickie!!" whined Des. "This is an emergency!!"
"Had you going there for a minute, didn't I!!" exclaimed Dickie, that cheeky vicar. "I'm only joking!!! Course you can hold it here!!!"
"Great!" said Des. "Thanks a lot, Dickie!!"
Des put up a huge sign outside his house to inform all of the guests of the new venue. Him and Mick then spent the afternoon decorating the church hall with balloons and streamers.
By seven o'clock, Des and Mick had finished decorating. They laid out all of the food and nibbles on the tables that Des had bought at the supermarket.
"Phew!" said Des. "Just in time!"
"You see, it's much more sensible holding the party here," said Mick.
"Yes, looks great, doesn't it!" said Des.
"Yes, not bad," said Mick.
"I hope everyone gets the message about the last-minute change," said Des. "They could hardly miss the sign I put up. I wonder how long it'll be before all our celebs turn up."
"Are Clive and Wayne and Mrs G and all that lot coming?" said Mick.
"I expect so," said Des. "I don't suppose anyone else will have invited them to a party."
"What shall we do in the meantime?" asked Mick.
"I'll put on my tape of party music," said Des. He slapped his tape into the church tape recorder, and the sound of 'Agadoo' filled the room.
"Oh no," groaned Mick, looking at the inlay card. "'Black Lace's Greatest Hits'! Is that the best you could manage?"
"It's just to build up the party atmosphere," said Des. "Don't forget, Abba are playing live later, when they arrive, that is."
After an hour of sitting around eating their nibbles and listening to Black Lace, no one had turned up.
"I'm sure I put seven o'clock on those invites," said Des. "So where are they all?"
"Did any of your celebrities actually confirm that they would be coming?" asked Mick.
"Well, not exactly," said Des. "But surely they wouldn't want to miss out on a party of a lifetime like this!"
Nine o'clock past, and still no sign of anyone.
"So where are they then?" said Mick. "Not even Clive and the others have shown up!"
"Maybe my sign's fallen down," said Des. "Naaah, they should still be able to read it."
Ten o'clock, and suddenly some excitement - the door began to open.
"Hey!" said Des. "At last! What did I tell you, Mick? Someone's turned up! Who do you think it's going to be? Terry Wogan? DLT? The Queen?"
"Hi there, groovers!" said the person who came through the door.
"Hello Dickie," sighed Des, for it was him.
"Just checking to see how the rave-up's going," said Dickie.
"Well, we're having a great time here," said Des. "We're still waiting for one or two guests to come, though."
"Like all of them," said Mick.
"Well at least you're here now, Dickie," said Des. "That makes three of us."
"Oh, I'm not stopping," said Dickie. "I'm off down the Dog and Stick Insect with all the others!"
"All the others?" said Des.
"Oh yes, Wayne, Clive, Mike, Mrs G, Farmer Files and everyone else, they're all there!" said Dickie. "John the landlord has laid on a real swinging rave-up down there!"
"So that's where they all are!" exclaimed Mick, getting up. "No wonder. Right then, I'm going down there with Dickie!"
"Mick!" said Des. "You can't go! What about our party? What about when our celebs turn up!"
"Oh, all right then," sighed Mick, sitting down again.
"Have a fantabulous night, you two! Ta-ta!" said Dickie. He walked out.
"I don't believe it," said Des. "They've all snubbed us! Even Dickie the Vicar! I can't believe even he's gone down the pub."
The hours passed. Eleven o'clock. The food was running low, and so were the batteries in the tape recorder.
"Is it me, or are Black Lace's voices getting deeper and deeper?" said Des.
"It's probably you," sighed Mick, who had mentally switched off to the music.By half past eleven, still no one had made an appearance. All the nibbles and sausage rolls had gone, and Black Lace were still droning on.
"Des," said Mick. "I really don't think anyone's going to be coming. Let's go down the pub."
"Chin up," said Des. "We've still got half an hour! Abba might still make it!"
"At least switch that tape off," said Mick. "We must have been through it at least fifty times by now! It's giving me a headache."
The batteries were now so low that 'Agadoo' was now lasting about fifteen minutes. Des switched off the tape, and they sat there in silence. Mick sat contemplating, while Des fell asleep. Midnight past. Not long afterwards, Mick had a thought.
"Des!" said Mick. "Wake up!"
"Uh?" said Des, waking up. "What time is it?"
"Ten past twelve!"
"Oh no!!!!!" exclaimed Des. "I don't believe it!! I missed it!! The start of the new millennium!!! What happened?"
"What do you expect?" said Mick. "Absolutely nothing. It's the year 2000, and everything's still the same."
"Oh," said Des.
"Anyway, while you were asleep, I was thinking. Clive was right!"
"Wouldn't surprise me," said Des. "What about?"
"The new millennium doesn't start until the year 2001!"
"How do you mean?"
"It's simple! The first century AD began in the year 1, therefore the 21st century cannot begin until the year 2001!" said Mick.
The concept was simple enough even for Des.
"But wasn't there a year zero?" he asked.
"No there wasn't," said Mick. "Surely it's illogical to start counting at zero. You would always allocate the number one to the first item in a sequence!"
"So that means I didn't miss anything after all," said Des. "It's still the 20th century! We've got another year to go!"
"That's right," said Mick.
"So that's obvious then, why no one turned up to our party!" said Des.
"Because it was always going to be a rubbish party," correctly answered Mick.
"No, no, don't be silly," said Des. "Because I advertised it as a party to celebrate the new millennium, to be held on 31st December! I didn't put which year!"
"So?" said Mick.
"They'll all be turning up next year instead! I'll have to start rebuilding my dome."
"Whatever you say Des," said Mick. "Well, there's no point hanging round here all night, no one's going to come."
"Where are you going?" asked Des.
"Down the Dog and Stick Insect," said Mick.
"Hang on a minute," said Des. "Just a minute ago you were saying there's nothing special about tonight."
"That's right, but I don't want to miss out on the party!"
"Party? You're not into parties," said Des. "Oh, suit yourself. I'm off to bed."
"Not coming to the pub then?" said Mick. "Everyone else is there!"
"Precisely," said Des. "I don't want Dave trying to give away more of his daft combs, or, even worse, Files trying to flog me another one of his nasty gnomes!
"Des and Mick left the church hall and stepped outside into the cold night air.
"Well Mick, happy new year, see you tomorrow," said Des. "Enjoy the party."
"I will," said Mick. "Good night." He went to walk off.
"Mick!" said Des. "Stop!!" Mick stopped dead in his tracks.
"I've just had this great idea! For next year! When it really will be the start of a new millennium!" said Des.
"Uh-oh," said Mick. "I'm off!"
"No listen," said Des. "Never mind rebuilding our dome! Next year, we'll hire out the real millennium dome and hold the biggest party EVER!!! And then we'll invite even more of the biggest celebrities on the PLANET! Like Eddie Large, Jim Bowen, Bill Clinton, Lionel Blair..."
"Happy new year, Des," sighed Mick. He walked off, leaving Des rambling on to himself.
"...Jeremy Clarkson, Norman Lamont, Alan Freeman, Mr Blobby, Frank Bruno..."
Copyright © Robert Williams