by Robert Williams
"Hey you groovy people, I need your help!" said Dickie the Vicar, bursting into the cafe. Unfortunately there weren't any groovy people there. Des, Mick and Clive were, though.
"Oh no Dickie, we come along to your dire discos every night, what more do you want?!" whinged Des.
"No, no, it's nothing to do with that!" said Dickie. "The thing is, ever since the local kids went back to school, it's been traffic chaos in the mornings and I keep being late for work!"
"Eh?!" said Mick. "Your vicarage is only just a short drive down the road from the church!"
"I know!" said Dickie. "And the school is slap bang between them! Every morning I have to sit in a queue of traffic while the parents drop their kiddies off! I've tried offering passers-by instant sermons in my churchmobile while I'm waiting, but strangely no one seems very interested!"
"Hmm, how strange," said Des.
"The main problem I have to contend with is all these four wheel drive vehicles clogging up the street!" said Dickie.
"Oh no, I hate those things!" said Clive. "The car park at the golf club, of which I am a member..."
No one looked the slightest bit impressed.
"...is always full of those behemoths!" continued Clive.
"Behemoths? Are they similar to normal moths?" said Des.
"But don't worry," said Clive, ignoring Des. "I've got a fantastic idea!"
"Oi, that's my line!" said Des. "I've got a fantastic idea as well!"
"I'll get my tank, and destroy the lot of them!" said Clive.
"That's a good idea, there's too many kids in this area," said Dickie.
"I meant the four wheel drive vehicles," said Clive.
"Oh Clive, don't be ridiculous," said Mick. "What's your idea, Des?"
"We should set up a school bus service," said Des. "Me as driver, and you as bus conductor and supervisor, Mick."
"I think I preferred Clive's idea," sighed Mick.
Des went along to Mike the Manic Mechanic to see if he had any suitable vehicular transport that they could use for their new school bus service.
"How about this camper van?!" suggested Mike, showing Des to a 1960s Volkswagen. "Groooooovy!!"
"I was thinking of something slightly larger," said Des. "I need a bus! And it doesn't have to be groooooovy, by the way."
"Hmmm, let me think...ah! I have just the thing! Wait there, I've got it stored in my depot up the road."
He drove off in his Cortina, and came back soon later driving a rusty 1950s single-decker bus that had obviously seen better days. When it stopped one of the headlamps popped out. Mike opened the door, which came off in his hand.
"Well...I can fix those!" said Mike. "What do you think?!"
"Umm..." said Des, staring at it.
"What's wrong with it?!" said Mike. "Don't worry, I'll soon have it cleaned up a bit!"
"Haven't you got anything a little bit newer?" said Des.
"Oh honestly, you're just like the rest of them!" said Mike. "Obsessed with new-ness! Don't you know the old ones are the best?!"
"Yes, of course you're right!" said Des. "I'll take it!"
"Two grand it is then," said Mike.
"I wouldn't say it looked that grand," said Des.
"No, no, that's how much I want for it!" exclaimed Mike.
"Oh gawd," groaned Des, handing over the cash.
Mike cleaned up and tried to fix the bus, and delivered it round to Des's house the next day.
"Look at that, isn't it a beauty!" said Mike.
"Not the first word that came into my head, to be honest," said Des.
"Anyway, see ya!" said Mike.
As soon as he left, the headlamp popped out again. And Mick popped out of his house to have a look at the bus.
"Well I shouldn't really be that surprised," sighed Mick. "Mike doesn't sell anything other than old junk, and you never buy anything other than old junk."
"There's just one problem, though," said Des, "apart from that headlamp. It's not very appealing to kids, is it?"
"It's not very appealing to anyone!" said Mick.
"It looks boring," said Des. "Too boring to be a school bus. It needs a new paint job."
"Got to be better than rust colour," said Mick.
Des popped round the DIY store to buy some cans of paint, and then spent the rest of the day giving the bus a new multicoloured paint job.
"There!" said Des to Mick when he had finished. "What do you think?"
"Err..." said Mick. He stared at the bus which Des had painted in a series of red, blue, pink, green and yellow stripes. "It looks awful."
"Well that's because you're not the target audience, are you?!" said Des.
"No," said Mick, heaving a huge, uninterested sigh.
"The kids are going to love it!!" said Des. "But it's still not enough. I mean, we've now got a nice bright colourful bus, but look at you!"
"What about me?!!" said Mick.
"You look boring," said Des. "Too boring to be a school bus conductor. You need fancy dress."
"No, no, please, no!" said Mick.
"I'll pop down the fancy dress shop, see if I can find anything suitable!"
The next morning Des and Mick made a special appearance at the school assembly to announce details of their exciting new school bus service.
"Now listen children," said Mrs Wilberforce, the headmistress. "Today's assembly will be taken by a Mr Wes Dednesday, who's going to be telling you about a really exciting new school bus service. Doesn't that sound thrilling."
She walked off the stage and narrowly avoided having Des crash into her as he leapt onto the stage.
"Hi there kidz!!!!!" exclaimed Des. "YO!!!" He had been taking lessons from Wayne, obviously.
All of the children just stared at him.
"Well anyway, my name's Dez, and I'm gonna be the driver of your fantastic new school bus!!!"
There was no reaction from the children.
"Yes, no longer will you have to travel to school in your parents' nice warm comfortable four wheel drive vehicles with the radio on and a good view," said Des.
There was a groan from the children.
"Instead you can ride in our new...well, um, it's not that new actually, er...you can ride in our classic school bus!!"
There was another groan from the children.
"And you'll be travelling with the happy knowledge that Dickie the Vicar will now be able to get to work on time."
There was a much louder groan from the children.
"Now lets meet your bus conductor, yes, it's Mick - a.k.a...dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna dunna BATMAN!!!!!"
Moaning and groaning, Mick stumbled onto the stage dressed in a Batman outfit. All the children pointed and laughed (and so did Des). Mick fumed.
Later that day Des was planning to erect various school bus stops around the local streets, but he was rather surprised to find someone else had already put some up.
"Must have been the council," said Des. "That'll save me some work!"
So that Monday morning Des and Mick got ready to inaugurate their exciting new school bus. But Mick was still moaning.
"Why do I have to dress up as Batman, while you don't have to dress up at all?" whinged Mick.
"You're never happy are you?!" said Des. "Look, I'm just the driver, the kids won't notice me, so there's no need to dress up!"
"If I have to dress as Batman, you should at least dress up as Robin!" said Mick.
"Robin who?" said Des. "Come on, look it's time we got going!"
They drove off down the road in their multicoloured bus, with the headlamp hanging out of its socket, on a pre-determined route that would cover the whole of the local area. But it wasn't long before Des started getting rather concerned that there was no one waiting at any of the school bus stops.
"You're going to tell me it's Saturday, aren't you?" said Des.
"No, it's Monday," said Mick. "We established that a few paragraphs ago, remember!"
"Oh yes..." said Des.
When they arrived at the school, their bus was still empty.
"I can't understand it," said Des. "Everyone knew about our school bus, so where are they?!"
"Oh no, look!" said Mick. Pulling out of a side street they saw a tank, with various kids' heads popping out the top.
"I don't believe it!!" exclaimed Des. "Just you wait, Clive!!"
Des leapt out of the bus and rushed over to the tank which had just parked up by the school gate. A stream of children began to disembark from the tank.
"See ya tomorrow Clive!" the kids were saying. "Bye!!"
Des banged on the tank.
"Who's that?!" exclaimed Clive. "Oh it's you. What do you want?!"
"What are you doing?!" said a furious Des.
"It's my new school tank service!" said Clive. "The kids love it!"
"Me and Mick are supposed to be running the kids to school, not you!" exclaimed Des.
"Look at that over there!" said Clive, grinning and pointing at a flattened pile of metal in the road. "That used to be a Land Rover Discovery!" Two parents were staring at it in disbelief.
"You'll never get away with this!" exclaimed Des.
And he didn't. Due to complaints to the council from parents (and Des), Clive was forced to withdraw his school tank service with immediate effect.
"Great, today's bound to be a success now we've got the field to ourselves!" said Des the next morning. "So let's go!!"
When they reached their first stop, there was a small group of children waiting.
"Where's Clive?!" moaned one of the kids as they got on.
"Where's our school tank?!" moaned another.
"The school tank's been withdrawn!" said Des. "But never mind, now you can go on a super-fun bus journey with BATMAN!!!"
They looked at Mick dressed as Batman.
"Yeah, whatever," said one of the unimpressed kids.
"Now hurry up, hurry up!" said Des.
As the bus ambled its way slowly down the suburban streets, they picked up more disappointed children hoping for another ride in Clive's tank. And as more children got on the bus, the louder the noise got and the more badly behaved they got.
"For goodness sake!" exclaimed Des after a while. "What a racket!!"
"Could you all possibly keep the noise down please, if you wouldn't mind?" said Mick. The kids ignored him and continued shouting, fighting and throwing things around.
"Mick, you're hopeless, you are!" said Des. "You're supposed to be the supervisor! Can't you keep that lot quiet?!"
"It's not my fault, they don't take any notice of me!" said Mick. "And being dressed as Batman doesn't exactly help! What we need is a radio to keep them quiet!"
"We haven't got a radio!" said Des. "You'll have to sing instead!"
Mick immediately regretted his last sentence.
"Sing this week's number one!" said Des.
"This week's number one? Errr..." said Mick. He burst into song. "Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree..."
Not surprisingly, this had no effect whatsoever. But Mick's concerns soon turned to the amount of time the journey was taking.
"Des, look at time!" said Mick. "Can't you try and go a bit faster? We'll never get this lot to school on time at this rate!"
"Sorry Mick, this is as fast as it will go!" said Des.
"Great," sighed Mick.
At the next bus stop Des and Mick noticed that one of the children was much taller than all the others. He was dressed in old-fashioned school gear, with a cap and a satchel.
"Wayne!" exclaimed Mick. "Get off, this bus isn't for you!"
"Owwwww!!" moaned Wayne. "I only wanted a ride on the school bus!!!!"
"Get off Wayne!" said Des.
"Not as good as Clive's tank, anyway," muttered Wayne as he moped off the bus.
But things got worse. Waiting at the next stop was not a bunch of kids, but a bunch of pigs.
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Farmer Files, getting on the bus with the pigs.
"Farmer Files, no!" said Mick. "We can't let you on! This is a school bus, not a pig bus!!"
"Oooooh arrrrr!! We only be wantin' a lift up to the shops!!"
"We're not going to the shops!" said Des. "We're going to school!!"
"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! You 'eartless cretins! You be denyin' a poor ol' farmer and lis porkers a short lift on the bus! We not be as young as we used to be!!"
Groaning and sighing, Des and Mick let Files on the bus, much to the delight of the children. As they diverted away from the direction of the school, and towards the shops, things on the bus descended into even greater chaos with pigs as well as the kids now running amok up and down the bus.
"Ooooh arrrrr!!! This be where we getting off!!" said Files when they finally reached the shops. "Come on you porkers!!" Files led his pigs off the bus. "Toodeloo, see you in the mornin', Des and Mick!!"
"Oh no," groaned Des. He turned the bus round, causing major disruption in the street, and headed back towards the school.
At long last they reached the school gate. Des stopped the bus in the middle of the road to let the children off.
"Thank goodness for that," sighed Mick. "Bit of peace and quiet at last."
When the final child had got off, Mrs Wilberforce, the headmistress, came up to the bus.
"Oh hello Mrs Wildebeest, how nice to see you again," said Des.
"I wish I could say the same!" exclaimed Mrs Wilberforce
"And how nice of you to come and congratulate us on getting all your children to school!" said Des, grinning.
"No I haven't!" exclaimed Mrs W. "Look at the time!"
Des looked at his watch.
"Oh dear, it's stopped," said Des.
"I'll tell you what the time is," exclaimed Mrs W. "It's half past ten!!"
"Oh my goodness!" said Des. "Thanks for telling me, 'Teletubbies' is on now!! I'd better get home quick!"
"I'll say it once again," said Mrs Wilberforce. "The time now is half past ten! School started at nine o'clock!!"
"Cor, so we're an hour and a half late," said Des. "Some people are so picky! You're not related to a Ms Greasy, by any chance?"
"If my pupils are not in school nine o'clock sharp tomorrow morning, I will be calling on the council to withdraw your bus service!"
Mrs Wilberforce strode off back to the school. Des raised his eyes to the sky and tutted.
"Well you know what the problem is," said Des to Mick.
"You need a new watch," said Mick.
"Err yes, but you know what the main problem is?" said Des.
"Having to give a lift to Farmer Files?" said Mick.
"Yes, but you know what the main problem is?" said Des.
"This bus is an ancient heap of junk that doesn't go fast enough," said Mick.
"Well yes...but you can't do much about that, can you?" said Des. "You know what the main problem is?"
"All those four wheel drive vehicles clogging up the street ?" said Mick.
"Well...yes...but you can't do much about that either, can you?!" said Des. "You know what the main problem is?!"
"No," sighed Mick.
"We have to keep stopping all the time," said Des. "You know, to pick the kids up. It wastes time. So why don't we..."
Mick stopped listening. He didn't need to hear the rest.
Next morning, Des, having bought himself a brand new watch, and Mick, who had finally talked Des out of having to dress as Batman, set off once again in their school bus. But this time, instead of stopping to pick up all the children, they drove straight past them.
"Look at all this time we're saving!" exclaimed Des.
They drove all the way round their route, whizzing past all the children, whizzing past Wayne and even whizzing straight past Farmer Files. They arrived at the school gate at precisely nine o'clock, where Mrs Wilberforce was waiting for them.
"Now just look at that, we're bang on time!!" exclaimed Des, feeling very pleased with himself. "I knew this was a good idea!"
"And it's been a much quieter journey, too," said Mick.
But their peace was soon broken.
"Who's that tooting their horn behind us?!" said Des.
"It's Dickie the Vicar in his churchmobile!" said Mick, looking out of the back window. "He's waving his fist at us!"
"Oh for goodness sake, how selfish of him!" said Des. "Can't he wait, we've got to drop these children off!"
"What children?" said Mick.
"Ah...oh..." said Des, as the realisation dawned on him. He looked round and grinned at Mrs Wilberforce, who was standing there with her arms folded, tapping her foot. He turned back to Mick. "I never thought this school bus thing was a good idea anyway."
The following morning there was no school bus service. However Dickie the Vicar came into the cafe, looking rather pleased with himself.
"Why are you looking so pleased with yourself, Dickie?" said Des. "Did your horse come in?"
"No, I've had a brilliant idea for how to beat the school run!" said Dickie.
"I think I can see where this is going," sighed Mick.
"I thought to myself, why don't I go to work a bit later?" said Dickie. "So this morning I did, and the road was completely clear!!"
Des hit his head on the table.
"Anyone want a multicoloured bus?" said Mick.
Copyright © Robert Williams