by Robert Williams
"And about time too!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy as a milk float drew up outside the cafe. "My milkman's been very tardy recently! He's getting later and later every day!"
"Have you noticed Des hasn't turned up yet either?" said Mick.
Suddenly Des walked in through the door. (Well, he was hardly going to walk in through the window, was he?!)
"Hello!" he exclaimed. "I've bought a..."
"Where's my milk?!" exclaimed Mrs G. "Where's my milkman?! What have you done with him??"
"I haven't seen your milkman!" said Des. "Anyway, I was just going to say, I've bought a milk float!!"
Silence all round. Clive and Mick buried their heads in their hands.
"There! I knew you'd be impressed!"
"What's happened to your horse box then?" sighed Mick, who couldn't really care less.
"Wouldn't fit in my garage," said Des. "So I've traded it in for this more compact machine, still with carrying capacity for up to eight people, at a surprisingly modest price!"
"Never mind all that, where's my semi-skinned?" exclaimed Mrs G. "I won't be able to make any more bread pudding without it!!"
"Oh dear, what a pity," said Clive.
"Who wants to come for a ride in it then?" said Mick.
"Me!!!!!!" exclaimed Wayne.
"I think I'd rather stay here!" said Clive. "And it's not often I can say that!"
"I agree," said Mick, agreeing.
"Lunchtime!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "Don't worry, I've still got the leftovers from the bread pudding that you didn't eat yesterday!"
"On the other hand..." said Mick, hurriedly getting up to go.
"Where's that milk float?!" exclaimed Clive.
Des, Mick, Clive and Wayne rushed outside. Des hopped into the driver's seat, and Wayne bagged the passenger seat. Cursing, Clive and Mick climbed onto the back area where the crates of milk would normally go.
"This doesn't look terribly safe," said Mick, as he clutched onto the metal frame so he wouldn't fall off.
"I don't think there'll be anything to worry about," said Clive. "It's a milk float, it's not as if we'll be going very fast!"
"I suppose so," said Mick, relaxing his grip.
Des started the electric motor, and immediately the milk float jerked backwards. Clive and Mick fell right off.
"Whoops," said Des. "Haven't quite got the hang of these gears yet!"
"Suddenly that bread pudding doesn't seem such a bad idea," said Clive, as he and Mick clambered back on board. This time they grabbed hold of metal frame and clutched on for dear life.
The milk float jerked forward this time, several times, and finally Des managed to drive it off down the road. But they made slow progress - extremely slow progress.
"Oi Des!" shouted Clive. "You could go a bit faster! I would like to get home some time today!"
"Yeah Des, put 'er into top gear!" exclaimed Wayne.
"I don't think Jeremy Clarkson would be that interested in milk floats," said Des.
"Come on Des, put your foot down! Speed up a bit!" shouted Clive.
"I'm going at top speed already!" shouted Des. They were travelling at 6mph. "Oh look, they've built a new mini roundabout at the end of this road!"
As he turned one way to go round the mini roundabout, the whole of the back area tilted to the left - and Clive tumbled right out onto the road. Then as Des turned the other way, the back area tilted back over to the right - and Mick tumbled out. Des didn't notice, and continued to drive down the road.
Clive and Mick scrambled up again, waving their fists at Des and hurried off after him.
"'Ere Des, Clive and Mick 'ave gone a bit quiet!" said Wayne.
"Ah good, they've finally shut up moaning," said Des. "That's all those two ever do, isn't it? Moan, moan, moan, moan, moan..."
"Oh, hi Clive! Hi Mick!" waved Wayne to Clive and Mick. They had not had much problem catching up with the milk float, and were walking alongside on the pavement.
Des looked round and did a double take.
"How did you get down there?!"
"We fell out of course!" exclaimed Clive.
"Oh dear," said Des. "Clive and Mick have had an argument, and they've fallen out. Bless..."
"We fell out of the milk float!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Come on, it's not as if I'm going very fast," said Des.
"That thing's not safe to travel in at any speed!" said Clive.
"Hmmm, Manic Mike Mechanic the Mechanic Manic the Mike Manic Mechanic at Mike's Motor Manic Mechanic's Motors Manic did say when he sold it to me, that there could be a few stability problems," said Des. "I'll take it in to him, see if he can do anything about it. And at the same time, I'll see if he can speed it up a bit, I've already missed today's edition of 'The Tweenies'! Hey, watch out for that lamp post, Mick!"
"Whoops, too late," said Des.
True to his word, that afternoon Des took his milk float to Mike's Manic Motors, for Mike the Manic Mechanic to have a look at.
"Milk, there's a problem with my mike float. It's unstable and unsafe for passengers!"
"Des, I know, that's why Dan Dairy, the local milkman - and let me tell you, he's got a lotta bottle - wanted to get rid of it! All of his milk crates kept falling out, so he had to drive extra slowly!"
"So that's why Mrs Greasy was complaining about him being late all the time!" said Des.
Another mystery solved, and one, I know, that has been troubling many of our readers since this story began.
"He's bought a horse box to replace it, you know. Anyway, what do you want me to do about it?"
"Just stop it from tilting so much when I go round corners, and also while you're at it, could you make it go a bit faster? And possibly give it a lick of paint?"
"Sure thing Des, it'll be ready in the morning!" exclaimed Mike.
The next morning Des went round to Mike's garage to see if he had finished the modifications to his milk float.
"Sure have Des!" exclaimed Mike. "I've really souped it up!"
"You mean you've turned it from a milk float to a soup float?!" said a confused Des.
"No, no, I mean...oh it doesn't matter!" said Mike. "Look, basically what I've done is to take out the electric power, and drop in a smokin' turbocharged Cosworth V6! I've put it directly behind the cabin - so Des, you can be the proud owner of the world's first mid-engined milk float! And it'll handle like no other milk float on the planet!"
"Can I see it?" said Des.
"Basically Des, this float is FAST!"
"Great Mike, can I see it now?"
"I've also cured the unstable back section, and given it a rather trendy new paint job!"
"Mike, I can't wait any longer, I want to see it!"
"Oh all right then," said Mike. He went round the back and came back driving Des's milk float, which looked rather much the same as before, only this time it made a lot more noise thanks to the V6 engine Mike had installed. The weight of the engine had also stopped the back section from rocking about all over the place. The float now had the words 'FAST FLOAT' written across the front and, oh yes, it was now pink.
"Just listen to that V6!" exclaimed Mike as he sat in the forecourt revving the engine. "Sounds fantastic, doesn't it!"
"Mike," said Des. "It's pink."
"That's right, it looks great as well!"
"I don't want a pink milk float," said Des.
"It's not a milk float any more, it's a FAST FLOAT," said Mike.
"Whatever it's called, it's pink!!" exclaimed Des. "I don't like it."
"Well I'll be honest, it's the only colour I had left," said Mike. "But never mind the colour! With this thing you're gonna be the fastest milkman in the west!"
"Oh I suppose so," grumbled Des.
"That'll be £2500 for all the modifications then," said Mike.
After Mike had made Des grumble even more by lightening his wallet somewhat, Des drove off down the road in his Fast Float.
"I must admit, despite it being pink, Mike's right!" said Des to himself. "This thing really is fast! And it handles great!"
Des had great fun whizzing down all the roads in town at speeds he wasn't used to in any of his other vehicles. At one point he even hit 50mph!
Soon, he came to rest at some traffic lights at the town centre. As he waited for the lights to change, he could see passers-by stopping and pointing.
"Look at that milk float!" said one person. "Doesn't it look cool!"
Des felt rather chuffed. But just then the Barry Manilow tape that he had playing on the in-float stereo system was drowned out by some loud heavy metal music. Des looked round, and to his amazement he saw that the music was coming from another milk float that had just drawn up beside him at the lights. This one was painted all in black, covered in painted gothic images, and had a banner across the side with the words 'DEATH FLOAT' on it. Driving it was a menacing-looking fellow, dressed in leathers. This was the milk float all the passers-by had been talking about.
As Des looked on in horror, the man noticed him. He looked up and down at him and his pink float, and started sniggering. Des was not at all pleased with this, and turned back to face the front and started revving the engine a bit. Then he heard the man start revving his engine - much louder. Des decided there was nothing else for it - it had to be a race away from the lights.
The two of them fixed their attention on the traffic lights. As soon as the lights turned green, the two raced away. And there was a clear winner. Des fumed as the Death Float shot off into the distance, leaving him limping into second place. So he drove back to Mike's Manic Motors.
Mick and Clive were also now hanging around there, mainly because they were a couple of lazy layabouts with nothing better to do with their day other than go and see what Des's converted milk float now looked like. When they saw Des turn up in his pink float they burst out laughing.
"Oh come on, you're not supposed to laugh you two," said Mike.
"Mike, I'm not happy," said Des as he stopped the float and got out. "It's pink!"
"Des, we went through all this earlier!" said Mike.
"And it's not fast enough!"
"Not fast enough?!" exclaimed an incredulous Mike.
"There's a bloke out there with a faster float than mine! It's painted all in black, and it's called the DEATH FLOAT!"
"I've heard of him," said Clive. "He's called Dave Dangerous. He's the new milkman, replacing Dan Dairy who wasn't very good. Apparently he's offering a much better service. Always on time."
"I'm not surprised with a milk float like the one he's got," said Des. "Mike, I want to be the fastest milkman in the west, not Dave Dangerous! Listen, I want my float painted black..."
Clive and Mick started singing 'Paint It Black' by the Rolling Stones.
"Oh be quiet you two!" said Des. "It want it painted black, I want it faster, and I want a new name!"
"What's wrong with 'Des'?" said Mick.
"I mean for the float, not for me!" exclaimed Des. "'FAST FLOAT' sounds good, but it's not mean enough!"
"So what do you want it called now?" said Mike.
"Well...obviously I can't call it the DEATH FLOAT as well, that would just be copying..." said Des.
"How about the DEAF FLOAT then," said Clive. "Sounds similar, and then you could carry all the hard of hearing people about."
Des did not look terribly impressed.
"HEATH FLOAT?" said Mick. "Spelt almost the same, and then you could use it for driving on the heath."
"What about calling it the VOTE FLOAT," said Clive. "Use it for campaigning in the election."
"The COAT FLOAT," said Mick. "Carry your coats in it."
"The GOAT FLOAT," said Clive. "Carry your goats in it."
"I haven't got a goat!" snapped Des.
"The BOAT FLOAT," said Mick. "Carry your boat on it."
"I haven't got a boat either!" snapped Des.
"The FLOAT FLOAT," said Clive. "Convert it to running on levitation."
There was a pause.
"Have you two finished now?!" said Des indignantly.
"So Des, you want it mean?" said Mike. "Let's call it the MEAN FLOAT! And I'll make it MEAN!"
"Well it doesn't sound quite as menacing as DEATH FLOAT, but it'll have to do," said Des. "Basically Mike, I just want it FAST!"
"Des, it'll blow that Dave Dangerous right out of the water!" said Mike.
"Great, but I wasn't thinking of taking it out into the sea," said Des.
The next morning Des went round to Mike's garage to see if he had finished the latest modifications to his milk float.
"Sure have Des!" exclaimed Mike. "I've really souped it up this time!"
"You mean you've turned it from a milk float to a...oh, we did that one yesterday..." said Des.
"I've taken out that hopeless V6 and dropped in a devastating Ferrari V12! Basically Des, this float is now FAST!"
"You said that yesterday," said Des. "Can I see it please?"
Mike brought round the newly modified milk float from round the back of the garage. It was now painted in black, as requested, with angry-looking eyebrows over the lights, and a growling mouth painted below the lights. It also had a banner draped across the side which read 'MEAN FLOAT'.
"Nice one!" said Des. "That's more like it! Thanks Mike!"
Des took to the Mean Float, and this time he only had to nudge the accelerator to race off down the road.
"Wow!!!" exclaimed Des. "This is amazing!!!"
Compared to yesterday, there was a massive increase in power. People stopped and stared as this bizarre black milk float whizzed down the road. Des had also tried to harden up his image by borrowing one of Dickie the Vicar's Status Quo tapes to play instead of Barry Manilow, although he could barely hear it over the noise of the V12 engine.
Des made sure he arrived at the traffic lights at exactly the same time as yesterday, and, sure enough, seconds later Dave Dangerous drew up alongside in his Death Float, with his heavy metal music soon drowning out Des's Status Quo. Des looked at Dave and smiled knowingly. Dave had a good look up and down at Des's new-look Mean Float, and this time, instead of sniggering, just gave him an aggressive stare.
The two of them revved their engines hard, and waited for the lights to turn green. And when they did, they were off! And to Des's astonishment, despite the massive increase in power he now had, he still struggled to keep up. The Death Float powered well ahead, and Des was unable to catch up.
So he moped back round to Mike's Manic Motors.
"What do you think then Des?!" said Mike.
"Still not fast enough," said Des.
"Oh good grief!" exclaimed Mike.
The next morning Des once again went round to Mike's garage to see if he had finished the third lot of modifications to his milk float.
"Sure have Des!" exclaimed Mike. "I've really souped it up this time! I've taken out that feeble V12, and installed a massive jet engine and rocket boosters! Des, this float is now FAST! In fact, it's so FAST I just hope PC Plod isn't out on the beat this morning!"
"Can I see it please?" said Des.
"I've given it a new name as well," said Mike. He brought round the latest version of the milk float, looking much as before, but with the addition of the jet turbine which had pretty much taken over the rear section. Under the rear bumper poked out two rocket boosters.
"Hmmmm," said Des. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"But of course!" said Mike.
"Then why have you called it the 'SUICIDE FLOAT'?" said Des, looking at the new banner.
"Just for fun!" said Mike. "Oh, you might need this." He handed Des a crash helmet.
Des looked at the helmet with some trepidation, but decided to put it on and take the chance. He boarded the Suicide Float, and hardly needed to touch the accelerator as he shot off down the road at an incredible speed, well past the limit.
"Oh my god!!!" exclaimed Des, clinging onto the steering wheel. "Help!!"
He managed to bring it to a halt as the usual traffic lights and, as he had been so quick, had to wait a little longer for Dave Dangerous to arrive, causing something of a hold-up in the street.
Eventually, though, Dave did arrive in his Death Float, at exactly the same time as the last two days. Dave looked at the Suicide Float and tutted, and raised his eyes to the sky, as if to say, 'this idiot never gives up'.
The both of them revved more aggressively than ever, and both were hunched over their respective steering wheels. When the lights changed to green, the two milk floats once again raced off, and again there was a clear leader. But this time, it was Des in the Suicide Float who powered ahead. Des grinned, and looked in his rear view mirror to see Dave waving an angry fist, rapidly fading into the distance.
But before long Des started to feel an uneasy sensation - one he had experienced a couple of times before, and was not particularly desperate to repeat. As he shot down the main road, he found he was going so fast that he began to rise into the air. Soon he was well above the traffic.
"Help!!! Help!!!" exclaimed Des as he flew though the air. "Oh look, it's my house..."
Des wasn't sure quite what to do. So he took his foot off the accelerator. The power suddenly cut out, and the Suicide Float fell to the ground, right in front of Mrs Greasy's cafe - and right on top of Dave Dangerous's Death Float.
Des stepped out of the Suicide Float, completely unharmed, and removed his crash helmet. The Suicide Float itself was quite badly damaged, but the Death Float was totally destroyed. Milk had spilt everywhere.
"What's happened?! What was that crash?!!?" said Mrs Greasy rushing out with a milk bottle in each hand.
"Hello," said Des. "Just thought I'd drop in."
"What the..." said Dave Dangerous rushing out after her. He looked at the wreckage in amazement - and then looked at Des. He didn't seem terribly happy for some reason. In fact, Des had a feeling he was about to find out how Dave Dangerous got his name. He grinned nervously and ran off home as quickly as he could. When he got there Mick was pruning the hedge next door.
"I've done it!" exclaimed Des. "I'm the fastest milkman in the west!"
"No you're not," said Mick. "Dave Dangerous is still the fastest milkman in the west."
"What?!!" exclaimed Des. "But I beat him! I went faster than him in my milk float!"
"I know, because I saw you," said Mick. "But the thing is, you see, Dave Dangerous is a milkman. You're not. That's why you're not the fastest milkman in the west."
"Don't be so picky," said Des. "Oh no, here he comes now!!" As Dave ran up the road, Des dived into the nearest bush. "I'll just leave a note for him...think I'll give milk a miss for a while!!"
Copyright © Robert Williams