by Robert Williams

"We are standing on the verge of a new era!!" proclaimed Des in the cafe one morning. "It's the first of January, Two Thousand and Twelve! The future has arrived! An opportunity for a new start, the dawning of an exciting new age......"

"Twenty Twelve," said Clive.

"What?!" said Des.

"Why waste all those extra syllables saying 'Two Thousand and Twelve' when you could just use the much more succinct 'Twenty Twelve'?" said Clive.

"Now you've wasted many more extra syllables saying all that!" remarked Mick.

There was a pause as Des counted up the syllables on his fingers.

"Well anyway," he continued, "it's the first of January, Twenty Thousand and Twelve, an opportunity for a new start, the dawning of an exciting new age, a chance to..."

"Okay you lot, out you go!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, coming up to them and clearing away the remains of their meals which, to be quite honest, actually consisted of the entirety of their meals.

"Are you feeling all right?!" said Mick. "Are you actually throwing us out of the cafe?!"

"Yes, that's right," said Mrs G. "Come on, I don't want all you lot cluttering up the place!"

"This is our lucky day!!" exclaimed Des. "Come on, let's go!!"

Clive and Des went for the door, but Mick was lingering.

"Sorry, I've got to know, what has brought all this on?!" asked Mick.

"It's quite simple," said Mrs G. "I just don't want you all getting in the way while I'm having the decorators in!"

"The decorators?!" said Des. "Again?!"

"Yes, this is going to be the most extensive refurbishment this cafe has ever seen!" said Mrs Greasy.

"But you're always getting this place refurberated and extended!!" said Des.

"That's right, do you remember last time she moved her cafe into your front room!" laughed Clive.

"Shhhh!!!" exclaimed Des. "The worst thing is, no matter how many times she redecorates, the food never gets any better!"

"Thanks for the endorsement, Des!" said Mrs Greasy.

"How on earth are you going to pay for this latest redecoration, then?" asked Mick.

"Simple, I've just put my prices up for the new year," said Mrs G. "So Des, that'll be £26.34 for your apple crumble and Mick, £32.61 for your black pudding." Clive sniggered. "And Clive, £98.14 for your toad-in-the-hole." Clive stopped sniggering.

"Now hurry up and pay up and get out of here!" said Mrs G. "The decorators will be here any minute!! It is absolutely imperative that I get this refurbishment completed before the London 2012 Olympic Games!!"

"Why?" said Mick.

"Well..." said Mrs G. There was a long pause. "It just is!"

"Maybe she's found out that the Olympic torch relay is going past so she wants the cafe looking the best," said Mick.

"That's a good idea," said Mrs G. "Then I could exploit the passing trade! Anyone know if the Olympic torch relay actually is going past the cafe?"

Clive looked it up on his trendy new smartphone thing that he had bought himself for Christmas.

"No it isn't," said Clive. "Anyway I've got to go, goodbye!" Clive hurried off in case Mrs G remembered about the £98.14 he owed her.

"What a pity," said Mrs Greasy. "Still, I'm sure you two can fix it for me so that it is!"

"What?!?!?" exclaimed Des.

"Now off you go!!" exclaimed Mrs G, shooing Des and Mick out of the cafe.

"How on earth are we going to get the Olympic torch run thing moved so it goes past her cafe?!" said Des, as he and Mick walked away from the cafe.

"Des, we can't," said Mick. "It's simply not possible. Just do nothing, and she'll have forgotten all about it by tomorrow. Her memory isn't what is was, after all."

"That's true, she's forgotten we didn't pay for our lunch!" said Des. "Or did we?"

They started walking away from the cafe at a rather more urgent pace.

For the next four months Mrs Greasy mentioned nothing more about her wish for the Olympic torch relay to pass her cafe, and Des and Mick naturally assumed she had indeed forgotten about it. Instead, she was busy getting various people from various television DIY programmes to redecorate her cafe and then unredecorate it until she was happy. Then in mid-April, finally came the grand reopening.

"It's exactly the same as it was," said Mick as they looked around.

"I know, I decided I preferred it the way it was," said Mrs G. "Still, got it all ready well in time for the Olympics!"

"The Olympics?!" said Des, alarmed. "Oh no, we haven't sorted out that torch thing yet!"

"Shhhh!!!" said Mick.

But Mrs Greasy had stopped listening, as she was busy fiddling with the television on the counter.

"Come here you two," said Mrs G. "You two know all about technical things! Any idea why I've lost all my channels? I've switched on to watch today's thrilling episode of 'Emmerdale Street' but all I'm getting is this snowy picture!"

"Maybe they're just repeating the Christmas special?" suggested Des.

"Haven't you two heard?!" said Mick. "Today is digital switchover day!" Des and Mrs G looked at him blankly. "I read it in the newspaper, all the analogue signals have been switched off, only digital television is left now!"

"So I suppose I'm going to have to shell out for an expensive satellite television subscription!" said Mrs G. "That means I'll have to put my prices up again to pay for it! Just as I was about to reduce prices following the completion of my refurbishment!"

"Thanks a bunch, Mick," said Des.

"You could just get Freeview," said Mick, but Mrs G didn't hear him as she had gone into the kitchen to rustle up their lunch. Before long she emerged to serve them both with a revolting, and extremely pricey, meal.

"Anyway, thanks for reminding me about the Olympic torch relay," said Mrs G. Mick scowled at Des. "I assume it's all sorted?"

"Oh yes, of course!" grinned Des.

"Excellent news," said Mrs G. "Just think of all those extra customers that'll be flooding in on Olympic Day!!"

"Won't they be too busy watching the torch to come into your cafe?" said Des.

"Of course not, who on earth wants to go out just to look at a torch going past?!" said Mrs G. "Honestly, some people have got no idea!"

"Mick," whispered Des. "I've got an idea..."

"Oh no," groaned Mick.

"It's..." whispered Des.

"I hope you two are enjoying your meals!" interrupted Mrs G. "So tell me more about the torch relay! What date is it coming past?"

"Oh, um, next Wednesday," said Des, thinking on his feet even though he was sitting down.

"Excellent, I'll make a note on my calendar," said Mrs G. "Eat up, you two!"

She stood there while Des and Mick looked in disgust at the objects on their plates.

"Mrs G, do you have to keep looming over us like that?!" said Mick.

"Yes, why don't you get on the telephone and order that expensive satellite television subscription?!" said Des.

"Good idea!" said Mrs Greasy. "I'd forgotten about that, thanks for reminding me, Des!"

Mick raised his eyes to the ceiling.

"Oh, has anyone got their number?" asked Mrs G.

"I have!" said Des. "I'll write it down for you." He did so.

"Thanks!" said Mrs G. She went off to ring the number.

"Des, what are you up to?!" said Mick in despair.

"Don't worry, it's all part of my plan!" said Des.

"Which I suppose you're going to delight me with now," said Mick.

"Nope, sorry, no time!" said Des, dashing out of the cafe.

Before long, Mrs Greasy finished her phone call. Coincidentally, shortly afterwards Des reappeared in the cafe. Mick looked at him suspiciously.

"That's sorted that then," said Mrs G. "My satellite installation is going to be next Wednesday."

"Next Wednesday?!" said Des in mock surprise. "But that's when the torch relay is coming past!!"

"Oh botherations, I didn't realise that," said Mrs G. "Still, I can't change it, apparently next Wednesday is the only day they can deliver my dish until after the Olympics! And of course, as you know, it's absolutely imperative that I get it installed all ready before the Olympics!!"

"Why?" said Mick. "I didn't think you were much of a sports fan!"

"Couldn't be less interested in it," said Mrs G.

"I suppose this means you're going to miss the torch," said Des.

"Indeed," said Mrs G. "What a shame, and to think of all that extra trade I'm going to miss out on!"

"I don't understand," said Mick. "Why does getting a man in to fix up a satellite dish mean you're going to miss the torch relay which as we all know is quite obviously going to be coming past your cafe?" Mick said the last bit quite pointedly in Des's direction.

"Because I'm going busy fixing up the dish myself, round the back of the cafe where it apparently needs to go, but completely out of sight of the torch relay," said Mrs G.

"You're fixing it up yourself?!?" exclaimed Mick incredulously. "Are you out of your mind?! Stupid question..."

"That's right," said Mrs G. "The man on the phone, who sounded strangely familiar but did have a completely unfathomable accent, said I could save £60 if I install it myself. That means I won't have to put my prices up quite as much, but sadly it does mean I'll miss the torch relay!"

Des grinned at Mick. Mick buried his head in his hands.

Next Wednesday soon arrived. Des and Mick arrived in the cafe that morning and noticed a large parcel on one of the tables.

"That'll be your satellite dish!" said Des.

"Yes, it mysteriously turned up on my doorstep this morning," said Mrs Greasy.

"Aren't you going to go and install it then?" said Des.

"Oh no, Mike the Manic Mechanic's agreed to do it for me!" said Mrs G.

"What?!?!?!?!" exclaimed Des, alarmed.

"Come on, you don't expect me to go climbing about on ladders at my time of life!" said Mrs Greasy. "Now I won't miss the Olympic torch going past, and more specifically all that passing trade for which I have prepared a job lot of delicious meat pies!!"

Des looked aghast.

"Isn't that the expression you usually pull when I serve you lunch?" said Mrs G. "The ones that means 'yum, yum, I can't wait to tuck in'? I know, those meat pies sound tempting, but they're not for you, they're for the spectators outside!!"

Just then Mike the Manic Mechanic walked into the cafe.

"Morning all!" declared Mike. "Des, you look well!! Ah, is that the dish? I'll just go and get that fixed up then!" He picked up the parcel and took it out the back.

"Please excuse me," said Des, "I just need to make some phone calls!" He hurried out the front of the cafe, while Mike got fixing up the satellite dish and Mrs G got busy fixing up meat pies for the expected hoards of customers.

"All sorted!" said Des, coming back into the cafe. "Mrs G, the Olympic torch is due to come past any minute now!!"

"Excellent news!" said Mrs G. She peered out of the front window. "So where are all the spectators?"

"Dunno," said Des, shrugging his shoulders. Des, Mick and Mrs G went outside to watch the torch bearer running past. Who, to Mick and Mrs G's surprise, turned out to be Wayne.

"Mornin' Des, mornin' Mick, mornin' Mrs G!!" shouted Wayne as he jogged past on the pavement, waving a small battery torch in their faces.

"Oi, stop shining that in my face!!" exclaimed Mick.

"See ya!" said Wayne, jogging away.

"Was that it then?" said Mrs G. "What happened to all those spectators who were supposed to be coming out in their droves to watch the spectacle?!"

"Would you come out in your droves to watch that?!" said Des.

"Of course not!" said Mrs G. "What a letdown." They went back into the cafe. "Now what am I going to do with all these meat pies? Des and Mick, you both look exceptionally hungry..."

Just then Mike the Manic Mechanic emerged from the back door.

"All done!" he proclaimed.

"Ah good, this'll cheer me up," said Mrs G. She switched on her portable television and started tuning through the analogue channels. Unsurprisingly, there was still no picture. "Oh dear, that Mike obviously hasn't set it up correctly!"

"Mrs G, I don't think it's quite as simple as that," said Mick, "you need a set top box for a start..."

"You're a couple of technical-minded people, Des and Mick, you go and check what Mike's done," said Mrs G. "I'll keep trying to see if I can get a picture."

Raising his eyes to the ceiling once again, Mick went with Des to the back yard where Mike had nailed the satellite dish to the back wall of the cafe.

"That's not a dish, it's a wok!" exclaimed Mick.

"I know," said Des. "I ordered it from the Ken Hom Classic Collection!"

"Mrs G is hardly going to pick up anything with that!" said Mick. "Except maybe a stir fry."

"I didn't think Mrs G would notice the difference," said Des.

"You could at least have removed the handle," said Mick.

They went back inside the cafe where they found Mrs Greasy dialling some digits on her telephone.

"Who are you ringing, Mrs G?" asked Des.

"I'm ringing that satellite television man again, to complain about my dish!" said Mrs G.

All the colour drained from Des's face.

"No, no, Mrs G, you can't do that!!" exclaimed Des. But it was too late, as his mobile phone had begun to ring. Des looked around awkwardly, while Mrs G stood there waiting for someone to answer the phone.

"Oh, my mobile phone appears to be ringing!!" exclaimed Des. "I had better answer it then!! I will go outside just in case it happens to be something personal!!" He hurried outside.

"Ah good morning," said Mrs Greasy, her telephone having finally been answered. She chatted to the man for a while. Shortly after she had put the phone down, Des coincidentally returned to the cafe.

"All sorted then?" said Des.

"Yes, that man with the bizarre accent recommended I get Freeview!" said Mrs G. "Which is a strange thing for an employee of the satellite television company to say..."

Just then Clive burst into the cafe.

"Good morning!" he declared. "I expect you have all heard the news!"

"Not me, I've got no television," grumbled Mrs Greasy. "Fancy a meat pie, Clive?"

"There's been a late change to the route of the Olympic torch relay, and now it's going to be coming right past this cafe!" said Clive.

"Yes, we know, it's already been past," said Mrs G. "And it was rubbish!"

"What are you talking about?!" said Clive. "Of course it hasn't been past yet, it's coming past in July! And I should know - because I'm going to be the person who's carrying the torch!!"

Des tutted.

"This is good news," said Mrs Greasy. "I wonder if those meat pies will keep till July..."

Another three months passed, and the day that the Olympic torch was due to be carried past the cafe arrived. More importantly, however, Mrs Greasy still couldn't pick up anything on her television.

"Have you finished digging that tunnel yet, Mike?!" shouted Mrs Greasy.

"Nearly finished!" shouted Mike the Mechanic, who was down a hole in the pavement outside the front of the cafe.

Just then Des came walking along.

"Woah!!" exclaimed Des, narrowly avoiding walking into the hole. "Hey, Mrs Greasy, did you know there's a hole in front of the cafe?!?!"

"Of course I did!" shouted Mrs G from inside the cafe.

Des stepped over the hole and walked into the cafe.

"Mrs Greasy, that's dangerous, someone could fall down that hole!" exclaimed Des.

Inside, sitting at table was Mick, covered in dirt.

"Hello Mick, did you fall down that hole?" asked Des.

Mick raised his eyes to the ceiling for the third time this story.

"Mrs G, you need to put up a warning sign or something!!" said Des.

"No need, you, Mick, Wayne, Mike, Dickie and Farmer Files are the only people who ever come in here, and they've all already fallen down it (apart from you), so now they all know there's a hole there's no need for a sign!"

"What about Clive?" said Des.

"He's off doing his torch running thing today, isn't he?!" said Mrs G. "And who cares about Clive anyway?"

"Good point," said Des. "So what is that hole for anyway?!"

"I'm getting cable television installed," said Mrs G. "Mike's doing on it on the cheap for me."

"It's not even proper cable television," said Mick. "Apparently Mike is digging a tunnel all the way across to Clive's house in order that he can stick a cable in so that Mrs G can leech off Clive's satellite television set-up. Crazy. Absolutely crazy."

"Seemed a good day to get it done," said Mrs G, "seeing is Clive is out all day."

"I'm just waiting for PC Plod to fall down that hole," said Mick. "Seeing as that hole being dug isn't on her property, Mrs G is therefore committing an illegal act."

"He's such a bore that Mick, isn't he?!" said Mrs G. "Anyway, if Mike would hurry up and get a move on, I can get the hole covered up and no one will need to know, will they?! In fact it's absolutely imperative that it's ready in time for the Olympics!!"

"Oh look, people are starting to gather for the torch relay thing," said Des, peering out of the window.

"Fantastic, I'd better go and get those meat pies!" said Mrs Greasy. She popped into the kitchen and came out with a wok full of the same meat pies she had been intending to sell three months earlier. Unsurprisingly they looked in even worse condition than before. "I'm not entirely sure why there was this dish thing nailed to the side of my cafe but it makes an excellent meat pie carrier!!"

"Oh no, this is disastrous!" said Des. "I must do something to prevent this calamity!!"

He rushed out of the cafe, narrowly avoided falling down the hole, and hurried home to collect an important implement.

"Hello Mike!" said Des as he shut his front door after retrieving a megaphone from his attic.

"Look at that, spot on!" exclaimed a dirt-covered Mike, who had just emerged from the other end of the tunnel in Clive's driveway. "Aren't compasses wonderful?!"

"Not sure why you want to draw a circle at this point of time, but I can't chat now, got to go!!" said Des

He hurried back to the street outside the cafe where the arrival of torch bearer Clive must now have been imminent since quite a lot of people were now lining the street.

"Excuse me everyone, could I have your attention please?!" shouted Des into the megaphone to the unwitting bystanders. "This is extremely important!! If a lady comes out in a moment and offers you a poor quality meat pie at a staggeringly high price, please ignore her!! Whatever you do, do not eat the meat pies!! I repeat, do not eat the meat pies, or you may be violently ill!!!"

"What's all that racket?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy, walking out of the cafe, avoiding the hole in the pavement, carrying her wok full of meat pies. "Hey, give me that!!" She snatched the megaphone out of Des's hand, and holding the wok in one hand and megaphone in the other started walking up the street.

"Meat pies!!" shouted Mrs G through the megaphone. "Come and get your meat pies!!! Delicious meat pies now available at incredibly reasonable prices!!"

No one seemed very keen on them.

"I can't understand it, Des, why is no one interested in my meat pies?" said Mrs G.

"I dunno," said Des. "Oh look, here comes Clive!!"

The bystanders started cheering as a whole entourage came along the road, including police motorcycles, security people and a whole crowd of people in Olympic T-shirts running along the road. At the centre of the crowd was Clive, who was carrying the Olympic torch.

"Good grief, can you see?!" said Mrs Greasy. "Clive's on fire!!!"

"Good gracious!!" exclaimed Des. "No he isn't, it's the torch!! The torch is on fire!!"

"How careless of him!!" exclaimed Mrs G. "Doesn't he realise that's a safety hazard?!?!"

"Don't worry!!" said Des. "All I need is a..." He looked all round for an appropriate receptacle. "Give me that wok!!" He grabbed the wok off Mrs G and threw all the meat pies down the hole.

"Ouch!!!!" exclaimed Mike the Manic Mechanic, who was just emerging from the tunnel and thus ended up getting hit with all the pies.

Des rushed into the cafe, into the kitchen and filled the wok with water. Then he hurriedly brought the wok back outside, once again missing the hole, just as Clive was passing by with the torch. With no time to spare, Des threw the water at the flaming torch. Unfortunately, his aim was not quite right - he missed the torch and instead covered Clive in freezing water.

A drenched and furious Clive stopped dead in his tracks. He looked all around for the culprit - and as soon as he saw Des he know he had found that person. He stormed towards Des, who by now was backing into the cafe - and surprise, surprise, fell right down the hole.

"AAARRRRGHHHH!!!!" yelled Clive.

"Oh hello Clive, looking for a short cut home?" said Mike the Manic Mechanic who was still down there. "Lucky you landed on those meat pies, they broke your fall!!"

Unfortunately it didn't stop there - wanting to investigate what had happened to the Olympic torch, several other members of the entourage, not to mention some members of the police force, also failed to see the hole and all fell down the hole on top of Clive and Mike.

"Well, I'll be on my way now, I think I've done as much as I can here," said Des, nonchalantly walking away from the scene.

"Why didn't you just get Freeview?" sighed Mick to Mrs Greasy.

Copyright © Robert Williams

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