by Robert Williams

"'Allo Mikey, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!" greeted Wayne one morning as he visited Mike the Manic Mechanic at his garage.

"Tell you what Wayne," said Mike. "Ever since I failed to get that OBE off Des, business has been really bad!!"

"Hey, business 'as been really bad for me too!" said Wayne.

"But you've got your OBE, you should be raking it in!" said Mike.

"Yeah, but I left on the bus by mistake!!" said Wayne.

"Did you?!" exclaimed Mike, his mouth opening into a wide grin.

Going totally against his principles, Mike then spent the next two weeks travelling everywhere on the bus, in the hope of coming across Wayne's lost award and claiming it for himself. But he had no luck.

"Oh yeah, I just remembered, I didn't leave it on the bus!!" said Wayne. "I lost it down the back of me sofa!!"

Mike groaned.

"Look Wayne, I'm skint at the moment," said Mike. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to take the last resort and go into partnership with you again."

"OH NO!!!" exclaimed Wayne. "Are we gonna open up another antiques shop?!"

"Are you crazy?!" said Mike. "Oh...stupid question. No, we're not opening an antiques shop, who wants old tat like that these days! No, we've got to sell stuff that's with-it, more up-to-date!"

Mike then noticed the clock.

"Oh look at the time, it's eight seconds before six minutes past eleven," he said. He counted down the seconds. "...five...four...three...two...one..."

Immediately the door opened and in walked Dickie the Vicar.

"Hi there groovers, just to let you know I'm holding a charity disco tonight at the church hall to raise funds to fix the church roof!! See ya then!!"

He then walked out again.

"That's exactly the same thing Dickie says at exactly the same time every single day!!" said Mike. "He's like an old record...that's it!! Old records!!"

"Yeah!!!" exclaimed Wayne. "Wassat then?!"

"We'll sell old records in our new shop!" said Mike. "You know, classic vinyl! There's a huge market in record collecting these days! No one's interested in modern music any more, it's the vintage stuff that sells!"

"Good idea!!!" said Wayne. "But where are we gonna have our shop?!"

"There's still an empty space next to Mrs G's cafe..." said Mike.

So Wayne and Mike were now a partnership once again. They decided to dress up in a manner that was appropriate to their new venture, and then go to the cafe to make the official announcement.

In the cafe not much was happening.

"You know what," said Des. "I wish there was shop round here that sold old records. You know, not modern rubbish, but vintage stuff from the 70s and 80s!"

"That's interesting," said Mick, who wasn't at all interested, and preferred buying classical music CDs by mail order.

Just then two Dave Lee Travises walked in through the door.

"Hi dudes!" said Mike, who was wearing a leather jacket, ripped leather trousers, a wig and a false beard.

"YO!!!" said Wayne, who was dressed in exactly the same way.

"Oh no, Wayne and Mike, you're not opening another shop selling old tat next door?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "I wish you wouldn't keep doing that, it's bad for my business! Your dodgy shops discourage people from coming down this road!!"

"Err, well..." said Mike.

"Why are you both dressed as Dave Lee Travis?" said Des.

"Because dudes, myself and Wayne are, er, opening a new shop next door," said Mike.

Mrs Greasy frowned at them.

"What are you selling then, false beards and secondhand clothes?!" said Des.

"No, no, we're going to be selling vintage vinyl, you know, old records!" said Mike.

"What a fantastic idea!" said Des.

"Glad you like it," said Mike. "Would you like to join our partnership?"

"No thanks, then I won't lose loads of money when it flops," said Des.

"Okay then," said Mike.

To stock up the shop, Mike went onto the internet and bought off E-Bay any old vinyl records he could find. Then he once again purchased the rent on the empty shop again which had not seen any action since Mike and Wayne's Antique Emporium had ceased trading.

"Yo groovy," said Mike to Wayne on the opening day of Mike and Wayne's Old Record Emporium.

"Eh?" said Wayne.

"I've been taking lessons from Dickie the Vicar on how to talk hip and trendy," said Mike.

"YO, GROOVY!!" yelled Wayne.

Mike and Wayne had little else to do that morning other than talk hip and trendy to each other, since their shop wasn't exactly flooded with customers. In fact it took three hours for anyone to turn up. And then it was only Des.

"How's business?" said Des. "Busy?"

"Gosh yes, it's really been buzzing in here!" said Mike.

"Yeah that's right, that fly just won't go away!!" said Wayne.

"Let's see what you've got then," said Des.

He started searching through hundreds of old records.

"Goshingtons, you've got some classic stuff here!" said Des. "Thompson Twins...East 17...Smiley Culture...Limahl...Pato Banton...Mr Blobby...just my kind of thing!!"

Mike rubbed his hands with glee.

"I've been after some of these records for years!!" exclaimed Des. "I just can't decided which ones to buy!!"

Des ended up buying half of Wayne and Mike's stock.

"What a success!!" exclaimed Mike, counting up the £200 Des had just spent. "Just think, if there are more people out there like him..."

"'Ere Mikey, there's no one else like Des!" said Wayne.

"That's true..." said Mike. "Well anyway, I reckon we're really onto something this time!!"

Before long they received a second customer. This was a rather rough looking fellow, with a shaved head and a scar on his face.

"Hello there sir, Mike and Wayne's Old Record Emporium, how can I help you?" said Mike, grinning.

"I'm after the first album by The Demon Sheep," said the man in a gruff voice.

"The who?" said Mike, still grinning.

"The Demon Sheep!" said the man.

"The who?" said Mike.

"Not The Who!!" said the man. "The Demon Sheep!!! They're a thrash metal band!!!"

"Nope, sorry, we haven't got it," said Mike. "Would you like a Chaka Demus and Pliers LP instead?!"

"You call yourself a record shop?!?!" exclaimed the man. "And you haven't even got the first album by The Demon Sheep?!?! Now listen to me. I'm going to give you exactly 24 hours to get hold of that record. Then I'm going to come back, and I might bring along a few of my mates. Now if you haven't got that record, then we are going to rearrange your face. Got it?!?!"

"Errr...yes!" said Mike.

"Good!" said the man. "Remember...24 hours!"

The man walked out of the shop.

"Oh my god!!" exclaimed Mike. "That was Big Barry Bigworth!! I've seen him and his mates before, down the pub!! They're scary!!! Now listen Wayne, you've got 24 hours to get hold of that record. Look in record shops, look on the internet, look anywhere, we've got to get that record!!!"

"Okay!" said Wayne, running out of the shop. He immediately ran back in again. "Who was it by again?"

"The Demon Sheep!!" exclaimed Mike.

"The who?" said Wayne.

"Not The Who, The Demon Sheep!!!" exclaimed Mike.

"Okay!" said Wayne. He ran out again, just as Des walked in. He was carrying all the records he had bought earlier.

"Hi there Des, what can I do for you now?" said Mike.

"I'd like to return all these records," said Des. "I'd like a refund, please."

"What?!?!" exclaimed Mike. "What's wrong with them?!?!"

"Nothing," said Des. "But I just remembered I haven't got a record player any more!"

"Oh great," groaned Mike, giving Des his money back.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, Mike had worked himself up into a terrible sweat. There was still no sign of Wayne, and Big Barry Bigworth was about to turn up with his mates. Suddenly Wayne burst through the door, completely out of breath.

"I've got it!!" said Wayne, huffing and puffing. He handed the record to Mike, but before he had a chance to look at it, in walked Big Barry Bigworth and his three big burly mates.

"Err, hello!" said Mike, nervously. But Big Barry and his mates weren't smiling. They walked towards the counter. "Well the good news is, we've got your record. Here it is!"

Barry grabbed the record.

"The Greatest Hits of The Who?!?" exclaimed Barry. "Is this your idea of a joke?!?!?"

Mike peered at the record.

"Oh yes, you're right!" said Mike. "What a funny thing! Don't you like The Who..."

Wayne and Mike's Old Record Emporium was closed for the next couple of weeks whilst the two of them enjoyed a nice stay at the local hospital. When they reopened, they still didn't have much in the way of custom. Then Clive walked in.

"Hi there Clive, fancy a Feargal Sharkey 45?" said Mike.

"No thank you, I've not come here to buy anything, I've come to give you some advice," said Clive. "You see, I hate to see two failing businesses next to each other."

"Pray continue," said Mike.

"There's one very good reason why you're not selling any records," said Clive. "No one's got a record player any more! Everyone uses CDs now! Just a little tip for you. Goodbye!"

He walked out of the shop.

"Well that was a lot of help," said Mike. "So he thinks we should be selling CDs instead of records. I can't afford to buy a load of CDs!! And what are we going to do with all these records?! Any ideas, Wayne?"

"Nope!" said Wayne.

"Well I have," said Mike. "Now I've finally found a use for that job lot of silver paint I've got hanging round the back of my workshop!"

Mike and Wayne's Old Record Emporium was closed for the rest of the day while the two of them busily painted all of their records silver. The next morning Des noticed the new sign above their shop, and walked inside.

"Good morning Des, welcome to Mike and Wayne's Old Compact Disc Emporium!" greeted Mike.

"Now that's more like it!" said Des. "I've got a compact disc player!"

He started searching through hundreds of old records that Mike and Wayne were trying to pass off as CDs.

"Goshingtons, you've got some classic stuff here!" said Des. "Thompson Twins...East 17...Smiley Culture...Limahl...Pato Banton...Mr Blobby...just my kind of thing!!"

Mike rubbed his hands with glee.

"I've been after some of these CDs for years!!" exclaimed Des. "I just can't decided which ones to buy!!"

Des bought up half of Wayne and Mike's stock.

"What a success!!" exclaimed Mike, counting up the £500 Des had just spent.

Des left with bags full of records disguised as CDs. Later that day he came back again.

"I'd like to return all these CDs," he said. "I'd like a refund, please."

"What?!?!" exclaimed Mike. "What's wrong with them?!?!"

"They wouldn't fit in my CD player," said Des. "They're too big!"

"Oh dear," said Mike. "Have you tried cutting them down to size?"

Des wanted to say that he'd like to cut Mike down to size, but he was too polite to.

"Yes, and they broke my CD player!" said Des, lifting the broken machine out of a bag. "Not only would I like a refund, I want compensation so I can buy a new one!!"

"Not my fault if your CD player's too small," grumbled Mike, giving Des his money back.

"Oh dear, I don't think we're going to be able to pass these records off as CDs after all!" said Mike once Des had left. "Maybe we should try and pass them off as DVD Audio instead... Look, it's getting late, it's time we were shutting up shop!"

Mike was about to lock the front door when a customer walked in. Unfortunately it was Big Barry Bigworth again.

"Err...good evening sir, welcome to Mike and Wayne's Old Compact Disc Emporium, how can we help you?" said Mike.

"I'm going to give you another chance," said Barry. "I see you're doing CDs now. So I'm after The Demon Sheep's first album, and I want it on CD!!"

"Oh no," groaned Mike.

"We've gotta CD of The Who!!" said Wayne.

"Shut up Wayne!" said Mike.

"Now I'll be back in 24 hours with my mates, and they'll be bringing along of couple of their mates," said Barry. "And if you haven't got me that CD..."

"Yes, yes, I get the picture," sighed Mike.

Barry snarled, and walked out of the shop.

"What are we going to do?!!!" said Mike, worriedly. "I've only just recovered from the last time!"

"I'll go and try and find that CD!!" said Wayne.

"You'll do no such thing, certainly not after the last time!" said Mike. "I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to set this place on fire!!"

Wayne gasped.

"But we'd better check with Mrs Greasy next door first," said Mike.

"So 'ow are we gonna start this fire then?!" asked Wayne as they went to see Mrs G.

Mike raised his eyes to the sky.

"By rubbing two sticks together, of course!" said Mike sarcastically.

"Okay!" said Wayne. "I'll go and get them now!!"

"Come back here!" said Mike.

They walked into the cafe.

"Mrs Greasy, is it all right if we set fire to our shop?" asked Mike.

"Certainly not!" exclaimed Mrs G incredulously. "What if the fire spreads to my cafe?! My business will be ruined!!"

"See, yet another upside to our plan!" said Mike.

"I expressly forbid you to set fire to your shop!" said Mrs G, firmly.

"Owwww!!" whined Mike and Wayne in unison. They moped back to their shop.

"She's such a spoilsport," grumbled Mike.

"What are we gonna do then!!" exclaimed Wayne. "Big Barry's gonna beat us up again!!"

"Well if we can't set fire to our shop, then there's only one thing for it!" said Mike. "We'll pretend to set fire to our shop!"

Mike and Wayne's Old Compact Disc Emporium was closed the following day as the two proprietors were busy making pretend flames out of tissue paper. Then Mike went to see Dickie the Vicar.

"Hi there Dickie, you raving mad reverend!" said Mike. "I'm setting my shop on fire tonight!"

"Groovy!" said Dickie.

"So I was wondering if I could borrow your smoke machine?" said Mike.

"Ah, that could be a bit of a problem, you see I need it tonight for my charity disco to raise funds to fix the church roof!" said Dickie.

"But Dickie, we need it, this is a matter of life and death!" said Mike. "Big Barry Bigworth's gonna beat us up!"

"Well...how about a compromise!" said Dickie. "I move my disco down to your shop tonight!"

"How can you do that, we're supposed to be pretending to set it on fire!" said Mike.

"Precisely!" said Dickie. "Then it means I can play 'Disco Inferno'!!!"

"Oh, whatever," said Mike.

That evening, around the time Big Barry Bigworth, his mates, and his mates' mates were all due to turn up, Mike and Wayne were ready. Their front window had been decorated in tissue paper flames, and Mike had put on a sound effects record of fire crackling noises.

"Are you ready then?" said Mike. "Smoke machine switching on now!"

He flicked the switch, and smoke started pouring out of the machine, quickly filling the shop. They opened the front door, rushed outside and started running around on the pavement yelling for help.

Next door Mrs Greasy was busy cooking up something disgusting when she heard these yells and noticed smoke wafting past her window.

"I don't believe those two!" she exclaimed. "They just don't listen, do they! I'd better call the fire brigade right away!!"

She did so, but as soon as she put the phone down she was surprised to see a fire engine draw up outside the cafe. Out jumped two firemen and they quickly unwound the hose from the fire engine.

"Gosh, they don't hang about do they!" said Mrs Greasy. She left her cooking for a moment to go outside and watch the spectacle.

In fact, it wasn't real firemen, it was Des and Mick dressed in old-fashioned firemen's outfits from the fancy dress shop, who had arrived in an ancient fire engine Mike had borrowed for the evening.

"Where's the fire?!" exclaimed Des, jumping about. "Where's the fire?!"

"Where's the fire," groaned Mike. "Isn't it obvious?!!"

"I'm just getting into character!" said Des.

Des and Mick rushed into the smoke-filled shop with their hose and started spraying water everywhere. The smoke quickly dispersed, revealing a lot of soggy records and a soggy Dickie standing behind his decks holding a soggy copy of 'Disco Inferno'.

"Dickie, what are you doing here?!" said Mick.

"I've moved my groovy disco down here for the night!" said Dickie. "I'm glad you two could turn up!! You're just in time to get down to the latest single by Max Bygraves!!!!"

"Oh no," groaned Des. However they were in luck - as soon as Dickie had removed Mike's sound effects record from the turntable and slapped on the Max Bygraves disc, they heard some screams from outside.

Des and Mick rushed outside, where Mrs Greasy, who had been busy chastising Mike and Wayne for setting their shop on fire, had just remembered she had left some sponge cakes in the oven, and now smoke was pouring out of her cafe.

"HELP!!!" yelled Mrs G. "FIRE!!!"

"F-f-f-f-fire?!" said Des.

"YES, FIRE!!!!" said Mrs G. She stared at the two firemen. "Well don't just stand there, put it out!!"

"Ah, well, the thing is, we're not actually..." said Des.

To Des and Mick's relief, at that moment the real fire brigade turned up, and they were able to quickly put out Mrs Greasy's fire, along with the sponge cakes.

"That was a bit of luck!" said Mrs Greasy.

"Not 'arf!" said Des. "We would have had to have eaten those sponge cakes tomorrow!"

"Hold on a minute, you're not a fireman, you're Des!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.

"Ah, the penny's dropped!" grinned Des.

The next morning, Mike and Wayne reopened their shop, now that most of their record-cum-CDs had dried out. Clive was also hanging around, mainly to avoid going in Mrs Greasy's cafe.

"''Ere Wayne," said Mike. "Did you actually see Big Barry Bigworth and his mates last night?"

"Err...dunno..." said Wayne.

Just then in he walked, with his mates and his mate's mates, who were even meaner looking than his mates.

"Oh no!" exclaimed Mike. "We were expecting you last night!"

"We couldn't come!" exclaimed Barry. "We missed the last bus because Tarquin here insisted on watching to the end of 'Celebrity Ready Steady Cook'!"

"Oh dear," said Mike. Their whole charade last night had been wasted.

"So where is it then?!" said Barry.

"What?" said Mike.

"You know!!!" exclaimed Barry. "The first album by The Demon Sheep on CD!!"

"The first album by The Demon Sheep?!" said Clive. "You don't want that, it's rubbish!! Didn't you read the reviews?! It's nothing like as good as their later material!"

"Is it not?" said Barry.

"No, no, you want their third album!" said Clive. "Now that is a classic!"

"All right then," said Barry. He turned to Mike. "Give me the third album by The Demon Sheep!"

"Certainly sir," said Mike, pulling out a copy of The Demon Sheep's third album from behind the counter. "£1.50 please!"

"Thank you," said Barry, handing over the cash. He left the shop with his mates and his mates' mates.

"Phew!!" said Mike. "Thanks Clive!" said Mike.

"Actually, I've never heard of The Demon Sheep," said Clive.

Mike and Wayne then decided to shut down their shop for good, before Big Barry realised that what he had been sold was a record disguised as a CD, and sold the rest of their unsold stock to their local commercial radio station, in the hope that it would break all of their CD players.

Copyright © Robert Williams

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