by Robert Williams

"Have you heard?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy in the cafe one morning. "It's Red Hose Day this Friday!"

"You mean Red Nose Day," said Mick.

"No, Red Hose Day," said Mrs G.

"That's right!" said Dickie the Vicar bursting into the cafe. "And you can all help support us by buying a red hose to water your garden with!"

"Help support you?!" said Mick. "Is this something you two have invented?!"

"Yes, that's right, groovy people," said Dickie, "we're raising funds to fix the church roof and build an extension to Mrs Greasy's cafe!!"

"Good grief, and you think we're going to help you raise the money?!" exclaimed Mick.

"Yes!" said Dickie and Mrs Greasy.

"Well you're very much mistaken!" said Mick. "I'm having nothing to do with it!"

"Me too!" said Des.

"Be like that," said Mrs Greasy. "Be the odd ones out! We've already amassed plenty of local support!"

"Like who?" said Des.

"There's Wayne," said Mrs Greasy. "He's spending all this week sitting in a bath full of baked beans."

"And who else?" said Mick.

"Well...that's it so far," said Mrs G. "But we've still got plenty of time to drum up extra support!"

"You're not getting my support," said Clive. "I'm already raising money for the local children's home. I've done a ten mile sponsored walk, a sponsored swim and a sponsored parachute jump!"

"Yeah yeah," said Des, unimpressed. "I wish you'd do a sponsored leave-us-alone."

"And next, I'm doing a sponsored stay-awake-athon!" said Clive. "Starting tomorrow, I'm aiming to stay awake 24 hours a day! The longer I can go without sleep, the more money I raise!"

"Cor, so what?! That doesn't exactly sound very challenging!" said Des.

"Well if you think it's so easy, why don't you join in too!" said Clive. "It'd help raise more money!"

"You're on!" said Des. "Mick'll join in too!"

"Eh? What?" said Mick.

"Think of the kids!" said Des. Mick groaned.

"Hang on a minute, what about Red Hose Day?!" said Mrs Greasy. "Can't you do a stay-awake-athon for us too?"

"Nope," said Des. "I'm a one-charity man! Come on Mick, let's get into training!!"

"Training?" said Mick. They got up and walked out of the cafe.

"Oh botherations, what are we going to do with all those hoses, Dickie?" said Mrs Greasy.

Meanwhile Des and Mick were busy getting into training.

"Why did you have to rope me in?!" moaned Mick.

"It'll be so easy!!" said Des. "What could be easier than staying awake? You don't actually have to do anything!!"

"You know what Clive's like," said Mick. "He'll turn it into a competition! You do realise he'll do anything he can to beat us!"

"Piece of cake, we'll beat him easily!" said Des.

That night Des, Mick and Clive had their final nights' sleep for the time being. Then the next morning they went to the cafe to officially begin their charity stay-awake-athon.

"So from now on, you must stay awake and fully alert 24 hours a day!" said Clive.

"He, he!" said Des. "Easy, easy!!"

"Now here are the rules," said Clive. "You and your sponsors have to give one pound for each hour you remain awake. If you close your eyes for more than thirty seconds you're out!"

"No problem!" said Des.

"Can't I just give the money and be done with it?" sighed Mick.

"You're so boring," said Des.

Just then the cafe door opened - and in came Dickie the Vicar, wearing a red hose round his neck, pushing a bath containing Wayne, who was immersed in baked beans.

"'Allo Des, Mick and Clive, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!" said Wayne, who was also wearing a red hose round his neck.

"See!" said Mrs Greasy, who again was wearing a red hose round her neck. "At least someone wants to support Red Hose Day!!"

"I'm gonna stay in this bath all week!!" exclaimed Wayne. "It's gonna be great!!"

"I'm glad you've arrived," said Clive. "You're just in time to hear me begin a reading of my memoirs, 'The Life and Times of Clive Kippers'."

"BRILLIANT!!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"From Monday this book will be available from all good bookshops priced only £17.99," continued Clive. "So you should all feel extremely privileged to be getting an exclusive sneak preview this morning!"

"Hmmm," mumbled Mick.

Clive opened the book and began reading.

"Chapter One - Early Days. I, Clive Kippers, was born in Guildford on 1st July 1954, to my parents, my mother and my father..."

"Oh gawd, this is going to be so BORING," whispered Des to Mick.

"Don't you see what he's doing!" whispered Mick to Des. "He's started already!"

"Oi, no talking at the back of the cafe!" said Clive. "My father worked at the bank, and my mother was a housewife..."

He continued reading from his memoirs, and Des and Mick's eyelids began feeling heavy. Wayne, meanwhile, was already fast asleep. Just then Mrs Greasy emerged from the kitchen.

"Lunchtime! Look at this delicious mashed potato I've cooked up for you!"

"Yikes!!!" exclaimed Des and Mick. They quickly got up and dashed out of the cafe.

"Oh Mrs Greasy!!!" moaned Clive. "What did you have to do that for?!!!"

"What did I do, what did I do?!!" said Mrs Greasy.

The rest of that day was not too difficult for Des and Mick, considering that they would normally have been awake anyway. Then that evening came the first hurdle - Dickie the Vicar's usual sleep-inducing disco. Des decided it would be safer if he simply didn't go. Unfortunately this meant that Dickie came calling on him.

"Hi there Des, not popping along to the disco tonight?!" said Dickie.

"Sorry Dickie, no, you see I'm doing this stay-awake-athon for charity, so there's no way I'll be able to come to your disco!"

"Oh dear, that's a pity," said Dickie. "What about Mick?"

"No, he's doing it as well," said Des. "Go and see Clive, he'll go."

But Clive was having his own 70s disco in his front room, and Dickie received no answer at the door, meaning he had no option but to spend the evening playing Status Quo to himself.

Later on, Mick had just finished watching 'Newsnight' when his doorbell rang. When he answered the door, he saw Des standing there holding a guitar.

"What do you want at these time of night, I was just going to b..."

"Going where?" said Des.

"Oh, umm...going to...bend...some...spoons..."

"You can do that tomorrow!" said Des. "Right now, I thought we should have a sing-song!"

"Oh no," said Mick. "Whatever for?!?!"

"To help us stay awake of course!!" said Des.

"Seriously Des, why on earth don't we just simply give the children's home the money?!" said Mick.

"And let Clive win?!" said Des. "No way!! Now let me in!"

Des bustled past Mick with his guitar and went into his living room.

"You do realise you don't know how to play the guitar," said Mick.

"Can't be that difficult," said Des, strumming the guitar. "If Eric Clapton can do it, anyone can! Now sit down on the floor."

They sat down crossed-legged in the middle of the floor.

"What do you fancy singing first?" said Des. "I know, what about some Kate Bush?"

Des and Mick had only sung the first two verses of 'Wuthering Heights' when someone came banging on the front door. Mick went to answer it - it was Clive.

"What on earth is that racket?!?!" exclaimed Clive. He had obviously finished his disco.

"Well, um..." said Mick.

"We're just having a sing-song!" said Des, coming into the hallway. "We weren't disturbing you, were we?!"

"Yes you were!" said Clive. "You sound like cats being strangled!"

"Come on, it's not as if you're trying to get to sleep!!" said Des. "Or are you?!"

"No!!!" exclaimed Clive. "Of course not!"

"In that case you won't mind joining us!" said Des.

"Errr...yes, of course...that'll be great..." said Clive.

So now it was Des, Mick and Clive sitting on Mick's living room floor, singing the greatest hits of the 1970s. After two hours of this, Clive was getting seriously fed up.

"I think it's my turn to take the guitar now!" said Clive. "There's a song I'd like you to hear."

"Oh, okay then," said Des, handing the guitar to Clive.

"Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top," sung Clive softly, "when the wind blows, the cradle will rock..."

Des started nodding off.

"...when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, down will come baby, cradle and all... One...two..."

"Des, wake up!" hissed Mick. Clive was counting the seconds.


"Wake up Des!!"


"WAKE UP!!!" shouted Mick.

"Huh? What?!" said Des, opening his eyes again.

"Oh darn!" said Clive. "Just five more seconds!"

"Oi!" said Des. "Were you trying to send me to sleep?!"

"Certainly not!" said Clive. "I was just singing one of my favourite songs!"

"Let me sing one of my favourite songs!" exclaimed Des, grabbing the guitar. He then proceeded with a ear-straining rendition of Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades'.

The next morning, they all turned up to the cafe as usual. Wayne was there once again, in his baked bean-filled bath.

"Glad you could all join me once again," declared a decidedly bleary-eyed Clive. "You're just in time to hear me read the next part of my memoirs, 'The Life and Times of Clive Kippers'."

"BRILLIANT!!!" exclaimed Wayne.

"Uh-oh," said a bleary-eyed Des and Mick.

"Chapter Two - School Days. My first day at school was when I was aged five, on 1st September 1959. My first teacher was called Miss Haddock..."

"Lunchtime!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, coming out of the kitchen. "Look at this delicious mashed potato I've cooked up for you!"

"Yikes!!!" exclaimed Des and Mick. They quickly got up and dashed out of the cafe.

"Mrs Greasy, you've done it again!!" moaned Clive.

"What did I do, what did I do?!!" said Mrs Greasy.

Later that day an exhausted Des and Mick were slumped on Des's settee. All afternoon they could hear banging and clattering coming from outside.

"Hey Mick," said Des. "What is all that noise? It's getting annoying!"

"Dunno," said Mick.

But the pair of them were too tired to go and see. Finally the noise stopped, and in walked Clive carrying a black box.

"What's going on?" said Des. "Was that you making all that noise?"

"Yes, I've just had a satellite dish installed on your house!" said Clive. "Now I'll just set up your digibox!"

"I don't want satellite television," complained Des. "There's never anything on!"

"Oh yes there is!" said Clive. Once he had finished setting up the digibox, he switched on the television and they saw a bunch of people sitting around, chatting.

"This doesn't look very interesting!" said Des. "What is it?"

"It's 'Big Bore-ther'!" said Clive.

"Oh no, the world's least interesting programme," groaned Mick.

"I'll tell you who they all are," said Clive. "That one there's Fred, he's Dave, she's Mary, he's Ken and she's Sharon."

"Fascinating," sighed Mick. "This is just the kind of thing to send you to sleep...oh, so that's your game!!!"

Clive grinned.

"Hold on, shush a minute, I thought I heard one of them say my name!" said Des.

"Don't be silly," said Mick.

"No, no, listen, I'll turn the volume up!" said Des. He did so.

"Have you heard Des and Mick are doing a stay-awake-athon for charity?" said Fred on the television.

"That's a good idea!" said Mary. "They're always doing great things to help their community!"

"Which one's your favourite?" said Ken. "Mine's Des - he's funny, got great fashion sense and he's really individualistic! And he always has these great ideas!"

"No, I like Mick the best," said Sharon. "Superb music taste, intelligent and a dry sense of humour!"

"What about their neighbour, what's his name?" said Fred.

"You mean Clive?" said Dave.

"Yes, that's him," said Ken. "He's taking part as well!"

"I bet he's doing anything he can to beat Des and Mick!" said Sharon.

"Yeah, he's probably got a whole string of dastardly schemes up his sleeve to get them to fall asleep!" said Fred.

"He should just leave them alone for once!" said Dave. "That Clive's a rotter isn't he!!"

The housemates all agreed. Immediately Clive switched the television off.

"Oi, I was watching that!!" said Des.

"Your subscription's expired!" exclaimed Clive, hurriedly disconnecting the digibox from Des's television. He rushed out, and Des and Mick heard some more banging and clattering as the satellite dish was removed from Des's house.

"I'm getting a bit tired of this," yawned Des.

"I'm just tired," yawned Mick.

"How much longer do you reckon Clive can hold out?" said Des.

"I don't know, he still seemed quite awake to me," said Mick.

"We need to beat him at his own game," said Des. "We need a plan to send him asleep!"

"But we haven't got the energy to do anything!!" said Mick.

"I know," said Des. He staggered up from the settee, and got himself a pencil and an exercise book.

Next morning, following another sing-song on Mick's living room floor, an extremely tired Des, Mick and Clive turned up at Mrs Greasy's cafe. It was now 48 hours since any of them had slept, and every few words any of them said was interrupted by a yawn.

"Good morning everyone," mumbled Clive. "Time for...the next part of my memoirs...'The Life and Times of Clive...Kippers."

"BRILLIANT!!!" exclaimed Wayne, who was still sat there in his bath full of baked beans and a hose round his neck.

"Wait a moment," mumbled Des. "I want memoirs..."

"I don't want to hear that rubbish," mumbled Clive.

"Yes you do..." mumbled Des. He took the exercise book out of his pocket and began reading. "Chapter One - Early Days...I, Des Wednesday, was born in...Mitcham on 12th November...1949 to my parents..."

"Chapter Three - Teenage Days..." mumbled Clive over the top of Des. "I left school in the age of 16...and got a job selling kipper ties..."

"Oh god," groaned Mick. As the two of them droned on about their life stories, Mick put his hands over his ears to block out this racket. Before long his eyelids were getting heavy...he started to drift away...

"Hey look," mumbled Des. "Mick's fallen asleep! He's out!"

"I always knew he was a lightweight," mumbled Clive.

"So now it's between you and me," mumbled Des and Clive in unison. "Now where was I..." They continued mumbling their memoirs at each other, and it wasn't long before they both began drifting off.

"Oh look, he's falling asleep..." mumbled Des and Clive in unison, their eyelids now almost having completely closed. "One...two...three..."

They continued counting in unison, with ever longer gaps between the seconds.


"Lunchtime!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, coming out of the kitchen. "Look at this delicious mashed potato I've cooked up for you!"

Des and Clive woke with a start.

"Oh Mrs Greasy!!!" moaned Des and Clive, still in unison. "He'd almost gone!! What did you have to do that for?!!!"

"What did I do, what did I do?!!" said Mrs Greasy.

The pair of them got up and stumbled out of the cafe.

"Oh well, you can have it all instead, Mick," said Mrs Greasy. She placed the mashed potato in front of Mick, who was now fast asleep. But the disgusting smell emanating from the mashed potato soon woke him up.

"Huh...urrr, what's that horrible smell?!" said Mick.

"Your lunch!" said Mrs Greasy.

"Oh no," groaned Mick, going straight back to sleep.

As for Des and Clive, both of whom were on the verge of falling asleep, it was now a fight to the death. They went back to their respective houses and began plotting. Clive put on a Bee Gees CD at full blast to help him stay awake, while Des kept shovelling a continuous supply of chocolate biscuits into his mouth to try to stop himself falling asleep.

Soon, Des and Clive emerged from their houses with two superb schemes to put the other to sleep. But as they simultaneously reached the pavement Des saw Wayne sliding towards them in his baked bean-filled bath.

"'Allo, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!!" shouted Wayne.

"Watch out!!!" shouted Des.

He darted out the way, but it was too late for Clive. The bath collided with him, knocking him over. Clive fell unconscious onto Des's front lawn. Des gasped, and started counting him down, like a boxer.

"One...two...well, it's sort of asleep isn't it?...three....fffour.....fffffive..."

But Des found counting to thirty a very tiring business.

"..sssssixteeeeen....sssseventeeeen.......what comes after sssseventeeeen, Wayne?" mumbled Des.

"Errrrr..." said Wayne, thinking hard.

"Oh never mind..." mumbled Des. "I remember...eeeeeightttteeen..."

Des managed to spend at least another five minutes counting the thirty seconds.


But it was too much for Des. He too collapsed onto his front lawn.

"Hey Des, wake up! Wake up Des!!" said Wayne. But Des was fast asleep.

The next morning, a wide awake Des, Mick and Clive gathered at the cafe.

"Looks like I won then!" exclaimed Des. "I stayed awake the longest!!"

"No you didn't!" said Clive, with a bandage round his head. "I was knocked unconscious! That doesn't count, that's not in the rules!"

"And who makes the rules?" said Mick.

"I do!" said Clive. "Des, you were the second to fall asleep, after Mick, that therefore makes me the winner!"

"Rubbish!" said Des.

"Oh who cares," said Mick. "We raised lots of money for the children's home, so what?!"

"Never mind your daft charity stunts," said Mrs Greasy. "I'd like to announce that Red Hose Day has been an unqualified success!"

Wayne had now ended his week sitting in baked beans. He sat there, grinning, as usual.

"Thanks to Wayne, and no thanks to the rest of you, we have raised a grand total of 8p!!" declared Mrs G. "That's a whole 8p more than last year!!!"

"Wouldn't that be because there wasn't a Red Hose Day last year?" said Mick.

"Details, details," said Mrs G. "And to celebrate our success, guess what we're all having for lunch? Yes, baked beans!!!"

"Oh no," said Mick. "Please tell me you're joking!"

"Well I'm not wasting them," muttered Mrs Greasy.

Copyright © Robert Williams

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