by Robert Williams
"And about time too," said Des when he looked at the letter that arrived on his doormat on New Year's Eve morning. He immediately took it down to the cafe to show the others.
"I, Des Wednesday, have been awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen!" declared Des.
"Yeah right," said Clive. "And I'm Duncan Goodhew's barber."
"Really?" said Des. "I didn't think he'd need a barber, he's got no hair!"
"Give me that!" said Clive. He took one look at the letter. "It's obviously a fake! You knocked that up on your computer!"
"No, I don't like using my computer!" said Des. "Whenever I do I end up buying something useless off Farmer Files by mistake!"
"It must be true, Clive, look, he's in the newspaper!" said Mick. In the newspaper was a list of everyone who had received an honour.
"Oh yes, there I am!" said Des. "Near the bottom of the fourth column. 'Desmond Wednesday, 58, Tolworth, Surrey.' Hold on a minute...58?!?!? How dare they!!"
"So what have you been awarded it for?" asked Mick.
"Hang on, let me look at the letter," said Des. "It says it's for services to the community."
"That's a bit vague!" said Mick. "Could be anything!"
"Hmmm, I wonder what it could be," said Des. "Probably just for my all-round greatness!"
"I don't think so!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Maybe it was that time I helped Prince Philip cross the street," said Des.
"You've never helped Prince Philip cross the street!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Oh no, of course I didn't, that was a dream," said Des. "It was the same night I had the one about the flying pink elephants with yellow stripes and green ears."
"Well I think this is an outrage," said Clive. "Giving out OBEs to any old person like Des is really devaluing these honours! In fact, I've got half a mind to give mine back! (As opposed to Des, who just has half a mind)."
"I didn't know you'd been honoured!!" exclaimed Mick.
"Clive Kippers OBE," grinned Clive. "I was awarded it years ago, long before I had the misfortune to meet you lot!!"
"You've never mentioned it before!" said Des.
"I don't like to show off," said Clive. The others sniggered.
"Well I don't care, now I've got mine!!" exclaimed Des. "Of course, this is only the first step. Next thing, I'll be knighted! Sir Desmond Wednesday!! Now doesn't that have a nice ring to it!"
"No," said Mick.
"Face it people," said Des. "It's inevitable!"
Des then went round to see Mike the Manic Mechanic, firstly to pick it up his Fiat 126 from its MOT, and also to show off the fact that he now had an OBE.
"Sorry Des, I'm failing your Fiat 126 this year," said Mike.
"WHAT?!?!?!" exclaimed Des.
"Only joking, I just wanted to see the look on your face," said Mike. "It was barely roadworthy ten years ago, and nothing's changed."
"Oh good," said Des. "How much do you want then?"
"Oooooh," said Mike. "Call it eighty pounds."
"Eighty pounds?!?" exclaimed Des. "That's ten pounds more than last year!!"
"Only ten?" said Mike. "Make it ninety, then."
Des grumbled as he wrote out a cheque for ninety pounds.
"Thank you very much Des," said Mike, taking the cheque and putting it straight in his filing system (ie the mess on his desk).
"Don't you want to have a look at that cheque?" said Des.
"Why?" said Mike. "When you've seen one, you've seen them all!"
"No, have a look, you might notice something slightly different!" said Des.
Mike sighed. He took a long hard look at the cheque.
"Can't see it Des, don't know what you're on about!" said Mike.
"Look at the signature!" said Des. Mike stared at it.
"Des Wednesdayobe," said Mike. "What's that about then? You've changed your name? Well I don't think much of it!!"
"No, no, it's Des Wednesday OBE!" said Des. "I've been honoured by the Queen!"
"You what?!?" exclaimed Mike. "You've been given an OBE?!! What a disgrace!!"
"I knew you'd be impressed," said Des. "Bye!!" He left the garage in his car. Shortly afterwards Wayne turned up.
"'Allo Mikey, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!"
"'Ere Wayne, have you heard the news?!" said Mike.
"Naah, me radio's broken," said Wayne.
"Well this wouldn't have been on the radio today, he's not famous," said Mike. "As if Des is going to get mentioned on the radio!!"
"And amongst those mentioned in the New Year's Honours List is Des Wednesday, 58, from Tolworth, Surrey, who has been awarded an OBE for his services to the community," said the newsreader on Mike's radio.
"Ha ha ha, 58!!" laughed Mike. "He'll like that!!"
"Des's got an OBE??!" said Wayne. "'As he seen 'is doctor 'bout it?!"
"No, no, it's an honour bestowed on him by Her Maj!" said Mike. "It's disgraceful!! How come some bloke who's never done anything in his life get an OBE, when you take someone like, er, me, for example, who's spent the last twenty years slaving away, selling and repairing cars for the community, yet has never been recognised!"
"Yeah, that's right!" said Wayne.
"I'm the one who should be getting that OBE, not Des!" said Mike.
"And me!" said Wayne.
"No, not you, you're only a window cleaner," said Mike.
"Oh yeah..." said Wayne.
"Well there's only one thing to do," said Mike. "When the day comes for Des to collect his award from the Queen, I'll have to dress up as Des and get to Buck House before he does! Then I will get given the honour instead of Des, Des will look a fool, and I will officially become Mike the Manic Mechanic OBE!!"
"Yeah!" said Wayne going all wide-eyed.
"Think of the extra business that will generate!" said Mike. "Those three letters make all the difference!"
"Yeah!" said Wayne going even more wide-eyed.
A few weeks later Des received his invite from the Queen to go and collect his award. Clive's complaints to the palace in an attempt to get Des's OBE withdrawn had failed.
"According to this, I've got to go and meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace," said Des to the others in the cafe. "Hmmm...Buckingham Palace...does anyone know where that is?"
Everyone looked askance at Des.
"That would be a good day for me to go and return mine!" said Clive. "It'll make a good, salient point, if I give mine back on the same day that you get given yours!"
"Yeah, whatever," said Des.
When Mike found out about this, he decided it was time to put his plan into action. He went and got himself the tattiest looking tank top and flares he could find from an old junk shop, and then bought a 1970s-style wig, fake sideburns and some National Health glasses. He even went and bought a battered old Fiat 126, to complete the effect. Unbeknown to him, Wayne was doing exactly the same.
On the morning of Des's trip to the palace, Mike donned his Des Wednesday outfit. He was just making the final touches when Wayne came up to him.
"'Ere Des, I shouldn't be tellin' yer this, but Mikey the Manic Mechanic's gonna be dressing up as yer today..." started Wayne.
"Wayne!" exclaimed Mike, talking off the glasses. "I am Mike the Manic Mechanic!!"
"Oh yeah!!!!" laughed Wayne.
"What do you think you're up to though?!" said Mike. "Why have you dressed up as Des as well?!"
"'Cos I wanna get an OBE as well!" said Wayne. "Then more people will want me to clean their windas!!"
"Wayne, Wayne, Wayne," sighed Mike.
"Eh?" said Wayne, looking round to see where the other two Waynes were.
"We can't both be Des Wednesday!!" said Mike.
"Hey, why not?!" said Wayne. "We could be the Des Wednesday Brothers!!"
"Then the real Des could join in and we could be the Des Wednesday Triplets!!!"
Mike was beginning to lose the will to live.
"Well anyway, it looks like I'm going to have to take you with me to the palace," sighed Mike. "I can't trust you to stay round here, who knows what you might blurt out to Des!!"
"Oh yeah, well all right, but I'd better get changed back into Wayne first!" said Wayne.
"There's no time, we've got to leave now if we're going to get to the palace before Des does!!"
So Mike and Wayne whizzed off to central London in Mike's Fiat 126.
Meanwhile back at Des's house, Des was getting ready for his trip to Buckingham Palace. He put on his best tank top and flares and tried to tame his hair. He then found a dusty old top hat which he had never worn, which had belonged to his uncle. As he left the house, he saw Clive leaving his house at the same time.
"Off to the palace?" said Clive.
"Yes!" said Des.
"So am I, to hand back my OBE in protest!!!" snapped Clive.
"Oooooh, touchy!!" said Des. Mick had also come along for the trip, mainly because he still didn't believe Des was really going to be awarded an OBE.
Clive got into his BMW, and Des and Mick got into Des's Fiat 126.
"You're not seriously intending to wear that at the palace, surely?!" said Mick.
"These are my best trousers!" said Des.
"I mean that hat!" said Mick. "It doesn't look like it's seen the light of day for decades!"
"Well...it hasn't," said Des. "But you have to admit, it's still rather classy!"
"No it's not, actually," said Mick.
Unfortunately Des was unable to wear his hat inside the car, so Mick had to sit with it his lap. They then drove up to central London, following Clive all the way despite Clive's best efforts to lose them. However some way ahead of both of them were the Des Wednesday Brothers - I mean Mike and Wayne.
"Right, now I've been busy practising my Des Wednesdayisms," said Mike as they drove along. "How about this? Oh botherations, I'd better go and watch my favourite programme 'The Tweenies' and then listen to some records by my favourite singer, Joe Dolce! Goshingtons!"
"Ha ha!!" laughed Wayne.
Over in Des's car, where he had a Joe Dolce tape playing at full blast, Des suddenly remembered something important.
"Oh botherations, I've forgotten to set the video to record 'The Tweenies'! We'd better turn back!"
"Des, there isn't time!" said Mick. "Keep following Clive!"
Mike and Wayne didn't have the advantage of being able to follow someone who knew where they were going.
"Which way are we going, Wayne?" said Mike.
"Err...dunno!" said Wayne. "Turn left....right!!"
Yes, Mike had made the fatal mistake of giving the map to Wayne. They therefore wasted much valuable time getting lost in central London while Wayne navigated them all over the place. So in the end everyone turned up at Buckingham Palace at the same time.
"Oh great!" exclaimed Mike when he saw Des's Fiat 126 stop right in front of them. "What are we going to do now?!"
"Err...run?!" said Wayne.
In the absence of any better ideas, they got out of the car and dashed round the side of the palace. Meanwhile Des got out of his car, put his top hat on, and just stood there.
"What are you doing?!" said Mick. "Are you just going to stand there all day?"
"The Queen said to meet her here!" said Des. "I hope she's not going to be late!"
"This is where she lives!!" exclaimed Clive, getting out of his BMW after putting some more hair gel on. "Good grief, what a stupid hat!!"
"Goshingtons, that's a big house, how did she afford it?!" said Des. "Well anyway, where's the way in?"
They followed Clive to the front gate. He got let in straight away.
"Typical of him," said Des. "You wait there, Mick, we don't need you for the next few pages."
"Oh thanks," said Mick.
Des went to the front gate and started trying to convince the guard to let him in. Meanwhile, round the side of the palace, the Des Wednesday Brothers were also trying to find a way in.
"High security at this place!" said Mike. "Rather annoying, isn't it!"
"I know!" said Wayne. "Why don't we both dress up as Prince Charles?! Then they'll let us in straight away!!"
"Good idea..." said Mike. "But what if we get found out?"
"Doesn't matter, 'cos we'd be Des Wednesday dressed up as Prince Charles!" said Wayne. "So he's the one who'd get into trouble!!"
"Good point..." said Mike. "But we haven't got time for that!!"
"I know I'll get me ladder, then we can climb over the railings!!" said Wayne.
"Your ladder is in your van, and your van is back at your house!" said Mike.
"Oh Mikey, you don't like any of my ideas," moaned Wayne, going into a sulk.
"Well, there's only one thing for it," said Mike. "I haven't done this since school!!"
Mike climbed up the railings, over the top, and jumped down into the palace grounds. Wayne did the same, and landed on top of him.
"Oi Wayne, geroff!!" exclaimed Mike. Wayne did so, and they dusted themselves down.
"So let's go!" said Wayne. "Come on Mikey!!"
"Now hold on just a moment," said Mike. "I'm the one pretending to be Des to get the OBE!"
"Owwww!" whined Wayne.
"You don't seem to understand, do you!" said Mike. "We can't both be Des!! You'd better scarper, quick!"
"Okay!" said Wayne. He disappeared off round the corner, and Mike darted across the front of the palace to the front door. But he was just a little bit too late. Des had got there first.
"Oh darn!" exclaimed Mike. He crouched by the side of the door out of sight, and looked on as Des chatted to the butler on the front steps.
"Where's the television cameras?" said Des. "Where's the press?"
"I'm sorry sir?" said the butler, who was staring incredulously at Des's ancient top hat.
"When people get awarded their honours it always gets shown on the news, doesn't it?!" said Des.
"Only if they're famous, sir."
"Famous? I am famous!" said Des. "I had a quarter-page feature on me in the Mitcham Gazette in 1963 when I slipped on the ice outside the library and broke my leg whilst taking part in the school summer parade!!!"
"Would you like to step this way?" said the butler, getting tired of listening to Des's inane ramblings.
"Hold on a minute!" said Mike, suddenly.
"Who are you?" said the butler.
"Aren't you supposed to do that bit where you ask if anyone has any objections to him getting an honour?" said Mike.
"That's weddings, isn't it?" said Des.
"Well whatever, I've got an objection anyway!" said Mike. "He isn't Des! I am!!"
"Mike, what are you talking about?" said Des. "And why are you dressed in that funny way with that daft wig on?!"
"He's an imposter!!" said Mike, pointing at Des.
"Are you now?" said the butler, looking carefully at Des.
Meanwhile, Wayne was crouching by a doorway at the side of the palace, wondering what to do.
"Cor, these windas look a bit mucky," he thought to himself.
Suddenly the door opened and a man walked out. He was surprised to see Wayne, but then let out a big smile.
"Ah, Mr Coach!" said the man. "We've been expecting you!"
"Who? Me?" said Wayne, worriedly. "Whaddya want?!"
The man whispered in Wayne's ear. Wayne gasped.
"Back in a min!!" he said, throwing off his Des Wednesday wig and glasses, and running off back round the front of the palace.
"But Mr Coach!!" shouted the man after him. "Come back!!"
Back at the front door, Des was trying to convince the butler that he was the genuine article. He didn't need much more convincing when Wayne suddenly ran into the back of Mike, causing Mike's wig and glasses to fall off. He turned round and glared at Wayne.
"'Ere Mikey!!" said Wayne, excitedly. "Err, sorry, I mean Des, er, oh, you've gone back to being Mikey again!! Cor, I wish yer'd make up your mind!!"
"Wayne!!!!" exclaimed Mike. "You've just ruined everything!!!"
"Yeah, anyway, you'll never guess what!!!" said Wayne, unable to contain his excitement.
"Wayne, not now!!" said Mike. "Go away!"
"GO!!!" exclaimed Mike, firmly.
"Okay!" said Wayne. He ran off again back to the man who was waiting for him round the side of the building.
Mike looked back round again, but Des had already been ushered inside the palace to collect his OBE. Just then Clive walked out, having just handed back his OBE.
"Mike, what are you doing here?" he said.
"Oh don't ask," sighed Mike. "What are you doing here?"
"Handing back my OBE," said Clive. "As a protest against idiots like Des being given them!"
"Quire right," said Mike. "Hey, I could have had yours then!"
Not long afterwards they were surprised, to say the least, to see Wayne walk out of the front door, with a big grin on his face. Shortly afterwards, he was joined by Des.
"Hey, look at this everyone!!" smiled Des, flashing his award around at everyone, including Mick who had somehow now been let inside the palace grounds.
"Great," said Mick unenthusiastically. "It's just the same as his."
"What?" said Des.
Wayne was also flashing an award around at everyone.
"He's been given an OBE?!?!?" exclaimed Des. "Wayne Coach?! No way!! I don't believe it!! There's been a mistake, surely!!"
"It's true!" said Mick, who had conveniently kept hold of his newspaper and brought it along with him. "Look, halfway down the third column! Wayne Coach, 38, Tolworth, Surrey!"
"Services to the communi'y!" said Wayne. "No one's cleaned more windas in their life than me!!!"
"Didn't you get those letters like Des did?" said Mick.
"Musta thrown 'em away, thought they were junk mail or summin'!" said Wayne.
"Well I think this is a disgrace!" exclaimed Des. "In fact I am absolutely appalled! Giving out honours to people like Wayne is really devaluing them!"
"Right, that does it!" exclaimed Des. He rushed back inside the palace. "Your Majesty, I don't want this OBE any more, I'm giving it back!!!"
"Can't I have it instead?" mumbled Mike.
Copyright © Robert Williams