Mrs Greasy's Stand-In

by Robert Williams

"I've got some bad news everyone!" said Mrs Greasy one day to the usual people in the cafe. "I'm afraid I'm going to be away for the next few days! I'm going to a cafe owners' conference in Birmingham!"

"And you're hoping to pick up some tips?" said Mick.

"No way, I'm going there to give them some tips!" said Mrs G.

"So...are you going to be closing the cafe?" said Des.

"Get real!" exclaimed Clive.

"The cafe will be remaining open," said Mrs Greasy. "My sister, Ms Greasy, is coming down from Hammersmith to run the cafe for a week."

"Ms Greasy? Why can't any of your family have first names, it'd be a lot less confusing!" said Des.

"I ought to point out that while she is in charge there will be a noticeable drop in the quality of food," said Mrs G. "She isn't such an accomplished cook as myself."

"Oh my god," said Mick.

"She's coming along in a moment, so she can introduce herself ," said Mrs G. "I think you ought to know she's a little bit stricter than me."

"Stricter than Mrs Greasy and a worse cook?!?!" exclaimed Clive. "This I've got to see!!"

And so they did. Suddenly the cafe door burst open with enormous force, and in walked an even larger and much tougher-looking version of Mrs Greasy, dressed in army gear.

"Morning Greasy!" said the newcomer in a deep, strident, forceful voice.

"Oh, hello Ms Greasy, how nice to see you," said Mrs Greasy.

"So those are the regular customers you were telling me about, is it?!" said Ms Greasy. She cast a beady eye over them. "This bunch of layabouts?!"

"Layabouts?!?!?!" exclaimed Clive.

"Oi, we're the posse!!" exclaimed Des.

"The 'posse'?! Don't make me laugh!" said Ms G. "Don't worry Greasy, I'll soon have this 'posse' kicked into touch!"

"I don't wanna be kicked!" moaned Wayne.

"Silence at the back!" snapped Ms G. "Now listen up here, as you all know I am taking over this cafe for a week, and as such I shall be fully in charge. You will all report to me here at ten o'clock sharp tomorrow morning! And woe betide anybody who's late!"

Ten o'clock the next morning, and in walked Des, Mick, Clive and Mike to the cafe, bang on time. They went to sit down.

"Oi!!" exclaimed Ms Greasy, rushing out of the kitchen. "I don't remember giving any of you permission to sit down! Go and stand over there!"

The four of them did as they were told and went and stood in a line.

"Attention!!" barked Ms Greasy. They all stood to attention. "Come on! Stomachs in, chests out!! Right, now stand at ease!" They stood at ease. "Now let's take a look at you miserable bunch."

She walked up and down the line inspecting the troops.

"You - what is your name?" she said, pointing at Des.

"D-D-Des!" said Des, shaking with fear.

"D-D-Des?!" said Ms Greasy. "What kind of name is that?!"

"The vicar who christened him had a stammer!" said Clive.

"Silence in the ranks!" snapped Ms Greasy. "Who are you?!"

"My name's Clive," said Clive.

"You think you're funny, do you?!" said Ms Greasy. Clive grinned. "Well I don't!!"

Des started sniggering, but stopped as soon as Ms G turned back to him.

"Why are you dressed like that, D-D-Des?!" She looked up and down at Des, who was wearing his usual tanktop and flares. "This isn't a 1970s themed cafe, you know! And you should get your hair cut!"

Des opened his mouth to reply, but couldn't think of anything to say.

"Now who are you?" said Ms G to the next person in line.

"My name's Mick," was the reply.

"Mick?!" said Ms G. "What is that short for? Michael?"

"Well yes, but..."

"Why don't you call yourself Mike then?!"

"Permission to speak, miss!" said Mike. "You see, the thing is, I'm called Mike..."

"I didn't ask you!" snapped Ms G. "Now Mick, let's look at you! Someone else who hasn't exactly dressed for the occasion!"

"Eh? What occasion?" said Mick.

Ms Greasy ignored him and moved onto Clive.

"Now you, what was your name again? Cliff?"

"Clive, actually," said Clive.

"At least you've attempted to make some superficial effort, Cliff," said Ms Greasy. She looked at him, who was looking quite smart as always in his shirt and tie. "Top button not done up, I see. Do it up! Now! On the double!!"

Clive quickly did as he was told, and Ms Greasy moved onto the next member of the platoon.

"Hi there Ms Greasy, I'm Mike the Manic Mechanic!" said Mike.

"You don't say!" said Ms Greasy, looking at Mike who was dressed in his greasy, mucky overalls.

"I just did!" laughed Mike.

"Oh look, we've got another comedian," said Ms Greasy sarcastically.

"Tell you what, Ms G, I noticed that Citroen 2CV you've got parked outside, looks to me like it's on its last legs, well I reckon I can do you a cracking deal on a superb 1980 Ford Fiesta 1.6 S with reconditioned wing mirrors..."

"Silence!!" barked Ms Greasy. "I don't need a new car, thank you very much!!"

Just then Wayne walked in. Immediately Ms Greasy turned right round and glared at him.

"Excuse me! What time do you call this?!?" she exclaimed.

"Errr...." said Wayne. He stared at his Mickey Mouse watch for an eternity.

"I'll tell you what time it is!!" said Ms G. "It's thirty-eight seconds past four minutes past ten o'clock! I ordered you all to be here at ten o'clock prompt! Go and stand with the others, I'll deal with you later!"

"Permission to speak, miss!" said Mike. "Are we going to have something to eat yet?"

"Silence in the ranks! There will be time for eating later! Now listen up all of you! When I say 'run' I want all of you to start running on the spot! Got that?!" There were murmurs of acknowledgement. "I said, got that?!?!?"

"Yes Ms Greasy," mumbled the posse.

"Good. Now run!!!" They started rather half-heartedly running on the spot. "Come on!! You call that running?!! I've seen faster moving snails!! Run!! I want your knees to touch your chins!"

She kept them running for ten minutes until they were completely out of breath.

"That was absolutely pathetic!" exclaimed Ms G. "We will try that again tomorrow! And I hope you will have bucked your ideas up by then!!"

"Can we sit down now?" said Mick, totally out of breath.

"In a moment!" exclaimed Ms G. "First let me say that I am not the least bit impressed with what I have seen this morning! In fact I've never seen such a slovenly bunch of good-for-nothing slackers in all my life! Now let me tell you there's going to be a few changes round here! I am of the opinion that my sister Mrs Greasy has been far too soft with you! Well now I'm here things are going to get a lot tougher for you lot, and you'd better believe it!! Do you hear me right?! Say 'Yes Ms Greasy'!!"

"Yes Ms Greasy," mumbled the exhausted fivesome.

"Right, you 'orrible lot, all sit down!" said Ms Greasy. "Come on, on the double, you heard what I said!"

They all went and sat down at their usual table. But rather than take their orders, Ms Greasy gave them their orders.

"Now you D-D-Des - you will have bread pudding!"

"But I don't like bread pudding!" whined Des.

"Silence!!" snapped Ms Greasy. "You will eat what you are given without question!!"

Before long Ms Greasy had served them with their food.

"Mrs Greasy was right, this is worse than what she cooks!" whispered Des, staring at his bread pudding. "I didn't think it could be possible!"

"When she said things were going to get a lot tougher, she must have been talking about the food!" whispered Mick, who was having extreme difficulty getting his fork to go into his rock solid chips.

"This is 'orrible!" said a grimacing Wayne, having taken one mouthful of his mashed potato. "This is nothin' like what Mrs G cooks!!"

"Good grief, if even Wayne doesn't like it, it must be bad!!" whispered Des.

"Silence!!" snapped Ms Greasy. "Stop talking and start eating!! Remember, no one is leaving this cafe until each and every one of you has all eaten everything on your plates!"

Just then Dickie the Vicar walked in.

"Hi there you groovy people, just thought I'd let you know..."

"Excuse me!" interrupted Ms Greasy. "Who are you?"

"Dickie the Vicar," said Dickie the Vicar. "I was just going to let you lot know I'm holding a groovy disco down at the church hall tonight at 7.30!"

"You're holding a disco?!" said Ms Greasy. "Would you give me one good reason why we should attend this disco?"

"It's for charity!" said Dickie.

"It's for charity," repeated Ms Greasy. "That seems a good enough reason to me. Right, you five! You will all report to the church hall at 1930 hours prompt! And I will be there to make sure you are all on time!"

"1930 hours...but my watch only goes up as far as 12!" whispered Des.

"She means 7.30," whispered Mick.

After this brief interruption, Ms Greasy went back into the kitchen to wash up, while Des and Mick tried to think of ways of getting out of eating their horrible food.

"Let's try that thing we do with Mrs Greasy," whispered Des. "Throw it in the bin and pretend we've eaten it!"

"By the way I don't want to see any of you trying that trick of throwing your food away and pretending you've eaten it!" called Ms Greasy from the kitchen.

"Blast," said Des who had just sidled over to the bin and was about to scrape the contents of his plate into it.

"You may be able to get away with such shenanigans with my sister but not with me!" said Ms Greasy. "If I catch any of you, you'll be in for some severe punishment!!"

After about an hour, all five had finally finished their disgusting meals.

"Look Ms Greasy, we've finished," sighed Mick.

"I feel ill," mumbled Des.

"Can we go now?" said Clive.

"No!" said Ms Greasy. "I need to perform a plate inspection! Go and stand over there! Come on, hop to it!!"

So once again the fivesome went and stood in a line.

"Attention!!!" barked Ms G. "Now hold your plates out!"

She walked up the line, carefully inspecting each plate to make sure there was not a crumb of food left.

"Right, that will be all!" said Ms G when she was satisfied. "Platoon dismissed!"

Heaving a huge collective sigh of relief, the fivesome went to leave.

"Hold on a moment, you!" said Ms Greasy, collaring Wayne. "You can't go, you haven't had your punishment for your lateness, have you?!"

"Oh no, Ms Greasy!!" whined Wayne.

"Get out in that back yard immediately! I want to see you do one hundred press-ups! Now!!!"

The other four tried to suppress their sniggers as Wayne was led outside.

"And if I hear so much as a titter from you lot, you'll be receiving the same punishment!" snapped Ms G.

Three hours later, Wayne completed his one hundred press ups. Six hours after that, at 1930 hours, the posse turned up outside the church hall for Dickie's disco. Ms Greasy was stood outside the door like a bouncer. She counted them as they walked inside. First in was Des, then Mick, then Mike, then Clive.

"Hi there groovers!" greeted Dickie. "Gosh, what an unusually high turn-out this evening!"

"Hold on one moment!" exclaimed Ms Greasy. "Stop right there, all of you! Where's the other one?!"

There were shrugs of shoulders and mumbles of "dunno" from the foursome. Seconds later Wayne came running up the path.

"Hey everybody! Look, I'm on time!"

"Erm, I don't think so!" exclaimed Ms Greasy. "Look at my watch!"

"Oh yeah, it's very nice, innit!"

"19.31:07. Wayne, you are late again!! Get down on that floor, one hundred more press-ups! Come on, on the double!"

Ms Greasy kept one eye on Wayne doing his press-ups by the front door, while keeping the other on Des, Mick, Clive and Mike to make sure they were enjoying themselves.

"Everybody get down to this groovy hit by Status Quo," said DJ Dickie into the microphone, "'We're in the Army Now'!!"

"I know the feeling," muttered Mick.

The next morning, back at the cafe, the platoon were subjected to more running on the spot and more horrifically bad food, while Wayne's total inability to turn up on time meant he was subjected to hundreds more press-ups. By the third day, Des and Mick decided that they could take no more of this military treatment.

"Don't worry, I've got a fantastic idea that's going to save us!" said Des. Mick's face immediately fell. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing," sighed Mick.

"Now Ms Greasy doesn't stay at the cafe overnight, does she?" said Des.

"No, she's drives in each morning from her house," said Mick.

"Brilliant!" said Des. "Right, I'm off to see Mike, see you later!"

Des went over to see Mike at his garage.

"'Ere Mike," said Des. "I've got a plan to save us from any more of this misery from Ms Greasy! But I need your help! Now, apparently, Ms G drives in from Hammersmith every day in her Citroen 2CV. So all you have to do is sell her a dodgy old car that's bound to break down, and she'll never make it in!!"

"Did I hear you right? Sell her a dodgy old car?!" said Mike. They looked round at all the bright, shiny, but slightly dubious fast Fords on his forecourt. "What on earth makes you think I've got dodgy old cars to sell?!"

"The fact that everything I've ever bought off you has turned out to be dodgy?" said Des.

"Weeeelll...." said Mike. "I expect I'll be able to find her something suitable. But even then, your plan is easier said than done! I've already tried to sell her a car, but she won't hear anything of it!"

"Maybe she just doesn't like fast Fords," said Des.

"Doesn't like fast Fords?!?!" said Mike, perplexed. "Is that physically possible?!"

"Perhaps she'd prefer a slow Austin," said Des. "Come on Mike, I know what you've got round the back of your garage!"

Round the back of the garage was where Mike kept his much more ropey stock of Mini Clubmans, Talbot Horizons and Commer camper vans.

"Hey, Des, I like your way of thinking!" said Mike. "Now let me think, slow Austins...hmmm...ah! I do believe I have just the thing!"

He hurried off round the back of the garage and came back driving a beige 1979 Austin Maxi 1.5 HL.

"What do you think of this?!" said Mike. "A 1979 Austin, it's positively guaranteed to break down! But what if she still doesn't want it? That Ms Greasy is a tricky customer you know!"

"Well then," said Des. "We have to make her need a new car!"

"Got it!" said Mike. "We'll nobble her 2CV so it doesn't work any more! That won't be too difficult! Just a few small adjustments and it'll be finished for good! But you'll have to help create a diversion!"

"Why? Do you need to close the main road?" said Des.

"No, no, not that kind of diversion!" exclaimed Mike. "Come on!"

Des and Mike went straight over to the cafe. Des, against his better judgement, ordered a slap-up meal to keep Ms Greasy busy while Mike made some 'adjustments' to her Citroen 2CV. Once he had finished he went straight back to his garage, while Des went straight to the hospital.

That evening at closing time, Ms Greasy locked up the cafe, got into her car and tried to start the engine. But however many times she tried, it just wouldn't start. At that moment Mike just 'oh so conveniently' happened to be passing.

"Permission to speak miss!" said Mike. "Got a problem there?"

"Yes, my car won't start!" said Ms Greasy through the window.

"Well, isn't that handy, I just so happen to be a mechanic!!" exclaimed Mike.

Mike opened the bonnet and took one look at the engine.

"No, it's had it!" he said. "This car's never going to work again!"

"Are you telling me I need a new car?!" exclaimed Ms Greasy.

"Yip!" said Mike. "And I reckon I've got just the thing you need, at a surprisingly competitive price! Follow me!"

"Oh, if I must," sighed Ms G. They walked back to Mike's garage, and within minutes he had sold her the dodgy Austin Maxi for £15. He rubbed his hands with glee as he watched her drive off down the road in it.

The next morning in Hammersmith, Ms Greasy locked her front door, got into her new car and drove off down the road. But she didn't get very far before it broke down. At that moment, Wayne just 'oh so conveniently' happened to be passing. Well, it actually was a coincidence as he was on a window cleaning job in that street.

"'Allo Ms Greasy, got a problem?" said Wayne.

"Yes, this car that Mike the Manic Mechanic sold me has broken down already!!" exclaimed Ms G. "If I don't get it started again I won't be able to open the cafe on time!!"

"Oh no!!!" said Wayne. "Hey, tell ya what, I'll give yer a lift in me van!!"

Back in Tolworth, Des and Mick were hanging around outside the cafe. It was 10.00, and there was no sign of Ms Greasy. They waited for half an hour - but still no sign.

"Yes!" exclaimed Des. "It's worked! She's not coming in!!"

"Thank goodness," said Mick. "Let's go home then!"

But as soon as they walked away from the cafe they saw Wayne drive past - with Ms Greasy in the passenger seat. Des and Mick's hearts sank.

"Oh I don't believe that idiot!!" exclaimed Mick.

"Stop!" yelled Ms Greasy. Wayne stopped the van and Ms G got out. "Where do you two think you're going?! D-D-Des?!"

"Umm...errr..." said Des. He gave Wayne a dirty look.

"What did I do? What did I do?" said a confused Wayne.

"Of course I would have been here on time if he hadn't got us going six times round the Elephant and Castle one-way system!" exclaimed Ms G. "Now you two! About turn and start marching back to the cafe! Come on, quick march! One-two, one-two..."

Copyright © Robert Williams

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