by Robert Williams
Des was rudely awoken one morning by the sound of his front door making a 'bing-bong' noise.
"Oh no," groaned Des, looking bleary-eyed at his bedside clock to find that it was only 6.00, and still pitch dark outside. "I'm getting so fed up with this. Why does she have to get up in the middle of the night??"
It was three weeks into the new year, and due to refurbishment work at her cafe taking longer than planned, Mrs Greasy was still running her business from Des's front room.
A few moments later Des was drifting back to sleep when he was awoken again by the door going 'bing-bong' as Mrs Greasy walked back inside from getting her morning paper. He was just managing to once again return to the land of nod when he was again woken up by his front door. Then he heard voices coming from downstairs, so he put his pillow over his head in a hopeless attempt to block them out.
"'Allo Mrs G, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!!" said Wayne, for one of the voices belonged to him.
"Good morning Wayne, what can I get you?" said Mrs G, for the other voice belonged to her.
"Cor, I just fancy a smashin' plate of pie 'n' mash!!" said Wayne.
"Coming right up!!" said Mrs G.
"Oh I give up," groaned Des, heaving himself out of bed. "Why does she have to open so early?!"
He put his dressing gown on and stumbled downstairs.
"Morning Des, what can I get you?" said Mrs G when she saw Des.
"A life," mumbled Des.
"'Allo Des, what are you doin' here?!" said Wayne. "Oh yeah, I forgot, it's yer 'ouse, innit!!"
"Why are you up so early, Wayne?" mumbled Des.
"I ain't been to bed yet, I've been boogyin' away down at the disco all night!!" said Wayne. "I just fancy some delicious pie 'n' mash before I pop to sleep!!"
"Sleep," sighed Des. "Lucky you."
Des went into his kitchen and tried to find something to drink, which was quite difficult with Mrs Greasy getting in the way.
"Will you keep out of my way?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "I'm trying to make Wayne's breakfast!!" Des continued fumbling around in the kitchen. "Honestly, look at you Des, you're half asleep! It's 6.30 in the morning, you should be wide awake, refreshed, ready for the challenges that the new day will bring! Take the example of Clive, he'll have been up since five, right now he'll be on his twenty-mile jog!!"
Des wasn't interested in Mrs Greasy's early morning ramblings.
"What have you done with my mug?" he mumbled. "I've not been able to find anything in here since you moved in. Why did you have to rearrange my kitchen?"
"It's better this way," said Mrs Greasy.
"If you're not careful I'll rearrange your face," muttered Des.
Having given up trying to find his mug he went into living room to put the television on, forgetting of course that his living room was in fact now Mrs Greasy's cafe, and all of his living room furniture was now in the garage. So that's where he spent the next few hours.
By ten o'clock, Des had woken up a bit more, so he got dressed and decided to make himself breakfast. Except, of course, that Mrs Greasy wouldn't let him.
"This is my cafe now, I'm the one doing the cooking round here!" said Mrs G. "Your bacon and eggs are nearly ready!"
"Good grief, is that what it is?!" said Des, peering into the frying pan. "Anyway, I only want a bowl of Coco Pops, that doesn't require any interference from you!!"
"Nonsense, a fit strong lad like you can't get by on Coco Pops!" said Mrs G. "Now here, take your bacon and eggs and eat it all up like a good little boy."
"Mrs Greasy, how much longer have I got to put up with this?" said Des, taking his plate of horrible breakfast. "You were supposed to be gone by the start of the year!!"
"I'm sorry Des, but the girl who's refurbishing my cafe has been working rather more slowly than I had originally anticipated," said Mrs Greasy.
"Why don't you tell her to hurry up then?!" said Des.
"What's the rush, I mean it's not causing anyone any problems is it?" said Mrs Greasy. Des gave her a filthy look. Mrs G turned away and rang up Mick.
"I hope you're going to be paying a percentage of my phone bill," muttered Des.
Not long afterwards, Des's front door went 'bing-bong', and Mick walked inside.
"I want to make it clear I haven't come here voluntarily," said Mick. "What on earth is that?" He looked at Des's breakfast that he was still holding.
"Bacon and eggs, apparently," said Des. "Come on, let's go down to the cafe, find out why it's taking so long. I'll give this to Clive's cat on the way."
Des tossed his breakfast over the fence into Clive's garden and he and Mick proceeded to walk down the road to the cafe. They walked inside and looked around in amazement.
Mrs G's grotty little cafe had been transformed into a kind of Georgian parlour. Where there used to be a nasty stain on the wall, there was now an elegant mock fireplace with a fancy ornate mantelpiece. The walls had printed patterned wallpaper with trefoils on it, the chairs and tables had been replaced with period antique furniture, and in the corner was a classical pillar with a bust of Beethoven. The floor was covered in Oriental rugs, and the ceiling had intricate mouldings on it, with a glass chandelier in the middle. And the whole room was decorated with fans and ornaments.
"Blimey," said Des. "It looks amazing! Who's in charge here?"
"That'll be me!" said a man with long dark hair and a dandyish appearance, who Des and Mick both recognised. "Who are you two?"
"We're Mrs Greasy's most loyal customers," said Des. "Though not through choice. Haven't I seen you on the television?"
"Yes, I expect you have!" grinned the man.
"Bowen, isn't it," said Des.
"That's right," said Bowen.
"I'm so pleased to meet you, I used to love watching your shows!" said Des. He then launched into a dodgy Northern accent. "Super smashing great!" Mick and Bowen looked incredulously at Des. "On the oche then!! Ah, look at what you could have won!! It was only a speedboat, anyway!!"
There was a long uncomfortable silence.
"Pleased to meet you, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, interior designer on TV's 'Changing Rooms'," said Mick.
"Oh!" said Des. "Sorry, I got a bit mixed up there, I thought you were..."
"Des was wondering," said Mick, interrupting quickly, "how much longer you're going to be redecorating the cafe for?"
"Well, as you can see, it's all finished!" said Laurence. "I reckon myself and Handy Andy have done an excellent job! In fact, we were just about to ring Mrs Greasy up and invite her round for a viewing!"
"It's very nice, but is this the kind of thing Mrs Greasy is after?" said Mick.
"Not exactly, her precise words were: 'could you do it up a bit'," said Laurence. "But I just know she's going to love what we've done! For a start, look at this gorgeous dado rail!"
"Dado rail?" said Des. "I didn't know Mrs Greasy owned any dados to put on it!"
Handy Andy rang up Mrs G and invited her to view the completed refurbishment. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was standing outside the front door when she arrived.
"And about time too!" said Mrs Greasy. "I've been stuck running my cafe from Des's pokey living room for the last month - goodness knows how many customers I've lost!"
"Mrs Greasy, before you go inside, let me you tell you that I know you're going to adore the new look we've..."
"I'm not interested in your chatter, just let me inside," said Mrs G. She pushed past Laurence and walked through the door. As soon as she got inside she looked all around in amazement. "Good gracious!!"
"What do you think, Mrs G?" said Des.
"It's...absolutely...." Des, Mick, Laurence and Handy Andy were hanging on Mrs G's every word. "...hideous!"
Laurence's face fell.
"I don't like it! Change it back!" snapped Mrs G.
"But...but..." protested Laurence.
"Listen to me, young lady," said Mrs G, "I don't know who you think I am but I'm not Mr Darcy out of 'Wuthering Heights' by Jane Eyre and I'm not interested in all this poncey decorating you've done! This is a cafe, not a parlour!! Change it back!!"
"But Mrs Greasy," moaned Des, "if she has to change it all back, it means you'll have to run your cafe from my house for another month!!"
"So be it!" said Mrs Greasy. She stormed off.
"Don't worry, I like it," said Mick, trying to cheer Laurence up.
"Well, I'll be off then," said Laurence, beginning to clear his stuff up.
"Hang on a minute, aren't you going to change it back like what Mrs Greasy said?" said Des.
"No chance!" said Laurence. "I can't stick around here, I've got to go off to do a report for the 'Holiday' programme!"
"The 'Holiday' programme?!" said Mick. "But that isn't on any more!!"
"Listen," said Laurence. "I know that. You know that. But the Hotel Dom Pedro on the Algarve don't know that."
"Sneaky devil!" said Des.
Before long, Laurence had cleared off to prepare for his freebie holiday, while Handy Andy finished clearing up his tools and stuff.
"Handy Andy, can't you help us out?" said Des.
"Sorry mate, I've got to go and pretend to be his cameraman!" said Handy.
"Oh all right then," said Des. "Can I just say, Andy, that I used to love watching you on telly."
"Thanks!" said Handy.
"Say hello to Edd the Duck from me!" said Des.
Handy Andy left hurriedly.
"What are we going to do?!" said Des. "Until this place gets turned back to normal, Mrs Greasy's cafe is going to be stuck at my house!! We need a way of convincing Miss Bowen to stay!!"
"Miss Bowen?!" said Mick, confused.
"Ah! Got it!!" said Des. "See you later!"
He arrived back soon afterwards with a new addition for the cafe.
"A dartboard?!" exclaimed Mick. "Tell me Des, how exactly is a dartboard going to convince Laurence to come back?"
"It's to make her feel more at home!" said Des, hanging the dartboard on the wall. "When she gets bored of redecorating, she can have a game of 'Bullseye'!! I'll ring her up now!!"
"Des, Des, Des," sighed Mick, shaking his head.
Unfortunately directory enquiries were unable to furnish Des with Bowen's number.
"I suppose there's only one thing for it," sighed Des. "We'll have to do it ourselves."
"Won't Mrs Greasy be angry if she finds out we've been doing the redecorating? Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's supposed to be doing it!!"
"No problem!" said Des. He rushed off again.
Before long he was back, and this time he was wearing a long blonde wig and a frilly shirt.
"What do you think?!" grinned Des.
"Des, that wig is the wrong colour," sighed Mick. "Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has dark hair."
"I know, but they only had a blonde one," said Des.
Just then Clive walked into the cafe.
"Blimey, it's Peter Stringfellow!" said Clive when he saw Des.
"I think perhaps I'll give it a coat of black paint," said Des, taking the wig off.
"What are you doing here, Clive?" said Mick.
"Just avoiding Mrs Greasy," said Clive. "Gosh, that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's done an excellent job here."
"He has indeed, but she doesn't like it," said Mick. "And since LLB has gone AWOL, we've got to redecorate it ourselves."
"Ha ha," said Clive. Then he noticed the dartboard hanging incongruously on the wall. "Wait a moment...I have an idea...tell you what, leave it to me!"
"Brilliant, thanks Clive!" said Des, shaking Clive's hand vigorously much to Clive's disgust. "Hey, you'll be needing this!" He handed Clive the wig.
"No, you can be Mr Llewelyn-Bowen," said Clive, handing it back.
Des and Mick left Clive to get on with refurbishing the cafe himself. Des returned to his house, his heart sinking when he remembered that it was still home to Mrs Greasy's cafe.
"Oh Mrs Greasy, can't you just move your cafe into Mick's living room?" moaned Des. "Let him suffer for a bit!"
"No point moving it all!" said Mrs G. "I'm sure Mick doesn't want all these tables cluttering up his living room. Now let me get on cooking you this omelette for your tea."
"Oh goody," sighed Des, thinking back to the good old days when he used to enjoy his meals.
All throughout the next few days Des kept on ringing up Clive to see if he had finished redecorating the cafe yet.
"It's almost ready Des, I'm just waiting for the pool table to arrive," said Clive to him one day.
"Pool table?!?!" exclaimed Des.
"What's that about a pool table?!" called Mrs Greasy.
"Oh...um...I mean Paul Table...he's a new...stand-up comedian who's in town..." said Des.
"Sounds great, I'd like to go and see him!" said Mrs Greasy.
Eventually, Clive rang Des with some good news.
"Des, get your wig on, it's all ready!" said Clive.
"Great!" said Des. "Mrs Greasy, Clive...I mean Jim...I mean...whoever...says he's finished doing your cafe!"
"Excellent news!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'm glad to see she got a move on this time! We'll pop over there now."
"Um, do you mind if I don't come?" said Des. "You see...err...'Clifford the Big Red Dog' is on in a minute."
Mrs Greasy raised her eyes to the ceiling. She out her coat on and left the house. As soon as she had gone Des quickly set the video for 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' and then put on his wig, which he had now painted black, and his frilly shirt, and ran off down the street on the other side of the road to Mrs Greasy to make sure he reached the cafe first. He was waiting outside the front door when Mrs G arrived.
"Now Mrs Greasy," said Des/Laurence in his appalling Northern accent, "before you go inside, let me you tell you that I know you're going to love the new look we've done, it's super smashing great..."
"Oh do be quiet," said Mrs G. She pushed past Des/Laurence, walked through the door and straight away let out a piercing scream.
"Oh no," groaned Des. He rushed inside, and was shocked to discover what Clive had done to the cafe. The dartboard was still there - and it had been joined by a pool table, some slot machines and a bar. Yes, Clive had transformed Mrs Greasy's cafe into a pub.
"Err...what do you think?" said Des/Laurence, nervously.
"What do I think?! What do I think?! I've paid you to turn this place back into a cafe, not a pub!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy.
Des went over to Clive.
"What are you playing at?!" whispered Des.
"It was an opportunity not to be missed!" whispered Clive. "We need a new pub round here, the Dog and Stick Insect's gone right downhill recently!" He called over Mrs G. "Mrs Greasy, you can't tell me you've never dreamt of running your own pub!! I can guarantee you you'll get more custom this way! And you don't have to cook anything!"
Mrs Greasy turned to Des.
"Miss Llewelyn-Bowen, I asked you to carry out a simple task, and you have failed, " said Mrs G. "I'm afraid I have no choice but to sue. I'll be contacting your solicitor forthwith."
"No, Mrs Greasy, please don't," said Des/Laurence. "Seriously, please don't!!"
"Has anyone ever told you you sound just like Des Wednesday?" said Mrs Greasy.
"Whoops...I mean, no Mrs Greasy, please don't sue, super smashing great," said Des, putting his Northern accent on again.
"I'll see you in court," said Mrs G, leaving the building.
"Thank a bunch, Clive," said Des.
"Fancy a pint Des, I mean Laurence," grinned Clive.
"What am I going to do now, the real Miss Bowen is going to get sued and it's not even completely her fault," said Des. "I mean it's partly her fault...and partly your fault. I'm completely blameless in this whole matter."
"Got any ideas then?" said Clive.
"Yes I have!" said Des. "You quickly get this place changed back into a cafe, and I'll go and hit Mrs Greasy over the head."
"What?!?!?!?" exclaimed Clive.
"I'm going to try to get her to lose her memory!" said Des. "Worked before, didn't it?!"
"You really are mad," said Clive.
Des/Laurence rushed outside and after Mrs Greasy. He picked up a small stone and tried throwing it at her head. Mrs Greasy turned round and started yelling.
"Help!! Help!! I'm being assaulted by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen!!!"
"Shhh!!!" exclaimed Des.
"Excuse me sir," said a voice behind him. Des's heart sank when he saw that it was PC Plod. "Don't I know you?"
"Yes, I'm er...oh, who am I?"
"Local troublemaker Mr Desmond..." said PC Plod.
"No!! I'm Laurence Llewelyn-Jim-Bowen, you know, off the telly!!" said Des.
"Oh yes of course," said PC Plod. "Apologies, I was mistaking you for local troublemaker Mr Desmond Wednesday, you do look quite similar although your hair is much longer..."
"Yes, whatever, now you know I'm a celebrity, this probably means you're not going to arrest me," said Des.
"On the contrary, sir," said PC Plod. "You are under arrest."
"Oh botherations," grumbled Des. "You don't think this will get in the papers, do you?"
"I expect it will, sir," said Plod.
"Oh great," grumbled Des.
While he was down at the station, Des/Laurence requested that he could make a phone call. When permission was granted, he rang Mick.
"Mick, slight problem," said Des. "I've just been arrested."
"Tell me something new," said Mick.
"Thing is, they think I'm Miss Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen," said Des.
"Oh no," groaned Mick.
"So not only is she going to be sued for something she didn't do, she's also going to get into the papers for being arrested for something else she didn't do!"
"Des, how on earth do you manage it?" sighed Mick.
"So is there any chance you could sort this mess out?" said Des.
Mick heaved a heavy sigh, and put the phone down.
Before long, Des/Laurence was let out of his police cell.
"Mrs Greasy has agreed not to press charges," said PC Plod. "But she said she is still going to sue you for every penny you've got."
"Will this still get in the papers?" said Des.
"I expect so," said Plod.
"Ah well, you see, I'm not really Laurence Llewelyn-Jim-Bowen, I'm actually Des Wednesday!" said Des, whipping his wig off.
"Are you now?" said Plod. "Impersonating a television celebrity, eh? Mr Wednesday, you are under arrest!"
"Err...no, I'm not really Des Wednesday," said Des, trying to shake the black paint off his wig and then plonking it back on his head. "I'm actually Peter Stringfellow!!"
By now PC Plod was completely confused.
"Just go!!" he exclaimed.
So now Des was a free man. But this still didn't solve the problem of Mrs Greasy suing the unwitting Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen who was at that time sunning himself on holiday in the Algarve.
Des tried ringing Mick again to see if he had thought of a plan yet.
"No Des, I've been busy," said Mick.
So Des popped over to the cafe to see if Clive had finished removing all of the pub furniture - which he had. Not only that, but all of the cafe furniture had been moved back in.
"There, Mrs Greasy, all back to normal," said Clive.
"Thank you Clive, for sorting that mess that Miss Llewelyn-Bowen made," said Mrs Greasy. "And also thanks to you four, Mick, Mike, Wayne and Dickie, for helping to move my furniture back in. And no thanks to you, Des, for being no help whatsoever. Where have you been recently, anyway?"
"Oh, here and there," said Des, vaguely. "Are you still going to sue Miss Bowen?"
"How did you know about that?" said Mrs Greasy. "As it happens, yes I am."
Des went over to Clive.
"Clive, what are we going to do?!"
"Leave it to me," sighed Clive. He took a pocket watch out of his pocket (amazingly enough), went over to Mrs Greasy and started swinging it in her face. "Mrs Greasy, you are feeling sleepy...very sleepy..." Mrs G's eyes started glazing over. "Now when I snap my fingers you will wake up and you will believe that your cafe being turned into a pub was all a dream." He snapped his fingers and Mrs G awoke with a start.
"Gosh, where was I?!" said Mrs Greasy. "Sorry about that, I must have dozed off, how very unlike me. I was having this really strange dream! I dreamt that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen had turned my cafe into a pub! How ridiculous can you get?! Thank goodness things like that don't happen in real life!!"
Des and Clive grinned.
"I didn't know you could do hypnotism," said Des.
"I can't," said Clive. "But sometimes you can make people believe anything!"
"Oh well," said Des. "Anyway, I'd better get home, now I can move my furniture back into my living room!! What did you do with all that pub furniture, by the way?"
"Oh yes, I was going to tell you about that," said Clive.
Des decided to rush off home before Mrs G served him anything in her new-look old-look cafe, with Clive hurrying after him. When he arrived home, he walked into his living room and found a bar, a pool table and slot machines in there, and a dartboard hanging on the wall, with various people sitting there drinking beer.
"CLIVE!!!!!!" yelled Des.
"Sorry Des, you don't mind if I just move my pub into your living room for the time being?" asked Clive. "Just until I get the lease on my new place sorted out. Won't take a week or two, I promise..."
Copyright © Robert Williams