PIGGY MANOR

by Robert Williams

"What on earth does he think he's up to?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy one morning, as she noticed Farmer Files outside the cafe sticking a sheet of paper to the window. "Doesn't he know bill posters will be prosecuted?! I'm going to give him a piece of my mind!!"

"Are you sure you've got any to spare?" giggled Des.

Mrs Greasy strode out of the cafe, but Files had already scarpered. She ripped the poster off the window and tore it up.

"Hey, didn't you even want to see what was on it?!" said Mick.

"Knowing Farmer Files, it will be nothing of any importance whatsoever!" said Mrs Greasy.

"Don't worry, I expect it was this," said Clive, who was working on his laptop and had already received an e-mail from the farmer.

"'Come to Piggy Manor'," said Des, looking at the message. "'South London's most celebrated stately home'. I've never even heard of it!"

"It'll just be his farmhouse," said Mick. "Honestly, it's one thing to open a hotel in there, and even a university, but to try and pass it off as a stately home is just ridiculous!"

"That picture doesn't look like his farmhouse," said Des. "It looks an actual stately home."

"That's just a stock photograph!" said Clive. "The whole thing is obviously a con."

"'Now open to the public for the very first time, a whole raft of treasures awaits'," read Des. "'Discover all about the famed Files dynasty, who have inhabited Piggy Manor for over five centuries.' Scroll down a bit, Clive. 'Added attractions include a wildlife park'."

"I bet that's just his pigs dressed up as other animals," said Mick. "What other 'added attractions' are there?"

"Um, that's it," said Des.

"Well it all sounds absolutely abominable," said Mick. "I certainly won't be paying a visit!"

Just then the door flew open. It was Farmer Files, who just finished sticking up his posters all over town.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" he exclaimed. "You all be invited to the openin' day of Piggy Manor!!"

"Sorry, I can't make it that day," said Des.

"Ooooh arrrrrr!!! You don't even know what day it be!! It be this Sa'urday!! And because you all be friends, I be offerin' you all a special discount!! It will only be costin' you all fifty pounds per 'ead!!"

Des and Mick knew they had little choice. And neither did anyone else in the local area. And so that Saturday, the entire crew all traipsed up to the farm, for the opening day of Piggy Manor.

"Mike the Manic Mechanic, why 'ave you brought me 'ere?!" grumbled Trendy Tracy, turning her nose up at the sight of Files's shabby farm. "I thought you was takin' me on a fun day out to a top local attraction!"

"Well..." said Mike. "It's Farmer Files's farm! You can't call yourself a local until you've visited this place!"

"Think yourself lucky," said Des. "We had to stay here once, when it was a hotel! And we even used to go to university here!!"

"You what?!" exclaimed an incredulous Tracy, who had actually been to a proper university.

"He's not exactly made much of an effort, has he?" said Mick. Files's farmhouse appeared exactly as it usually did. "There's not even a sign, or anything!"

"Where is he, anyway?" said Des. Farmer Files was nowhere to be seen.

"Come on, let's get this over and done with," sighed Mick.

They all walked inside the farmhouse.

"I see he hasn't even bothered to tidy the place up for our visit!" said Mick. "Where is this 'raft of treasures' then?"

"There's a half-eaten biscuit," said Des, as they walked through the kitchen. "And he's left his long johns out to dry, ugh."

"Well, I set my expectations as low as possible," said Mick. "But I never thought they would be exceeded."

"Was this worth fifty pounds?!" said Des.

"Fifty pounds?!" exclaimed Tracy. "Mike the Manic Mechanic, demand we get a refund!"

"Err, umm..." mumbled Mike.

"What's the problem, are you scared of 'im or something?!" said Tracy.

"Errr...." mumbled Mike.

"Come on, let's go!" said Mick.

"But we haven't seen the wildlife park yet!" said Des.

"I bet the 'wildlife park' is his pigsty!" said Mick.

The ten of them all walked out of the farmhouse again. They were all about to get back into their respective vehicles when Des's mobile phone rang.

"Oooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files on the phone. "Where be all of you?!"

"We're in the farmyard, outside your so-called 'stately home'," said Des. "We've just been round, it was absolutely..."

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "What be that, Des?"

"...fantastic!" said Des. "Well worth fifty pounds!"

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! What you be talkin' about?! Oi be waitin' for you roight now, outside moi stately home!!"

Des looked all around. Files was still nowhere to be seen.

"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Did you not be followin' the directions as detailed on moi poster?!"

"No, because Mrs Greasy tore it up," said Des.

"Thanks Des, for landing me in it," muttered Mrs Greasy.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! You be waitin' there, oi be comin' to pick you up in moi Land Rover!!"

"Farmer Files said..." said Des to the others.

"Don't worry, Farmer Files is loud enough, we heard everything," sighed Mick.

"Oh for goodness sake, can't we just go 'ome?!" moaned Tracy. "I'm worried I'm gonna step in somethin'!"

"You don't want to get on the wrong side of Farmer Files," said Des. "And we should know. You might end up having to muck out his porkers!!"

Before long Files arrived in the farmyard in his Land Rover. They all piled into the back, which was rather a squash, and set off across Files's extensive farmland.

"I don't like this, Mike the Manic Mechanic, where is he takin' us?!" said Tracy, as they juddered and jolted about.

"I don't know, Tracy, I just don't know!" said Mike.

Suddenly, the Land Rover ground to a halt.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Everybody out!!"

Feeling all shaken up after their uncomfortable journey, they all staggered out of the back. What they saw before them shocked them all.

"I think I'm having hallucinations," said Des, who had just collapsed onto the ground. "I can see a stately home, the same one that was on his e-mail!"

"No, it's not a hallucination, it's real!" said Mick.

It turned out that the picture of a stately home on Files's e-mail was not a stock photograph, it actually was a picture of the real thing. It was a large building that looked just as you would expect an English country mansion to look like. There was a long gravel drive from the house that led across the field to an entrance by the road that no one had noticed before.

"Look at that, he's got a Range Rover!" said Tracy, noticing the brand new, top of the range vehicle parked outside. "Why couldn't he 'ave brought us over in that!!"

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. "That Range Rover be for impor'ant people only!!"

"Thanks a bunch," said Tracy.

"I don't understand this," said Mick to Des. "How has he suddenly managed to turn up a large country house like this? I've never noticed it before! It's illegal, of course."

"What on earth do you mean?!" said Des.

"It's on green belt land," said Mick. "There's no way he'd get planning permission to build something like this here!"

"But he wouldn't need to, it's been here centuries!" said Des. "The e-mail said it had been in the Files Dallas for over five hundred years!!"

"I think you mean the Files dynasty," said Mick. "This is all very suspicious." He walked over to the building and peered at it carefully.

"Oooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "What you be lookin' at?!"

"This brickwork," said Mick. "It looks new to me."

"Oooooh arrrrr!!! Of course it be new, it be part of moi extensive restoration work!!"

"Hmmmm," said Mick.

"Are we gonna stand around chattin' all day, or are we goin' inside!!" said Tracy. "I'm gettin' cold out 'ere!!"

"Ooooh arrrrr!!" exclaimed Files.

The others followed him across to the entrance. Files opened the large wooden doors, and they all walked inside. They found themselves in a large open hall, with an impressive staircase leading upstairs (as staircases often do). There were paintings on the wall and suits of armour were dotted around the place.

"Oooooh arrrrr!!! Welcome to Piggy Manor!! Home of the Foiles dynasty for over foive 'undred years!! Let me be showin' you around!!"

Files began by showing them the paintings, all of whom showed portraits of bearded people whose faces looked almost identical to Farmer Files, even the women.

"This be Lord Frederick Foiles, who be foundin' Piggy Manor back in the late fifteenth century!! And this be his woife, Lady Fenella Foiles! And this be Ferdinand Foiles, from the Spanish arm of the family!! And 'ere be Sir Francis Foiles, who be leadin' the Foiles clan to victory at the famous Battle of Pigsworth!!"

As they looked at the various paintings, Mick noticed Clive was taking photographs of each one with his smartphone. They also noticed there were a few picture frames hanging up without pictures in them.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!! Now let me be takin' you upstairs and showin' you the room where Queen Victoria be stayin' on her way to the Isle of Woight!"

"This place is amazing!" said Tracy, as Files showed them round a succession of impressive and majestic rooms. "Mike the Manic Mechanic, why don't you build us both a house like this!"

"Um, well..." said Mike.

"'Aven't you got anything to say today except 'umm' and 'err'?!" said Tracy.

"Errr..." said Mike.

"What's in that room?" said Des, as they passed one door that was shut, unlike all the others. He went over to open the door.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files, rushing across with some urgency. "You be comin' away from there!! Staff only!!"

The tour concluded, and they gathered back in the main hall.

"It's all very nice, but I'm very suspicious," said Mick.

"You always are," said Des. "Why can't you just accept that, for once, everything is as it seems?"

"Because it's not!!" exclaimed Mick. "This is an illegal building which is certainly not five hundred years old."

"Maybe the answers lie in that room he wouldn't let us go in..." said Des.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. "Now it be toime to visit the Piggy Manor wildloife park!! But be warned, you must be stayin' insoide your vehicles, and keepin' your windows shut at all toimes!!"

"Hang on, where's Wayne gone?" said Des, looking all around.

As Files led everyone else outside, Des noticed one of the suits of armour was moving. He rushed over to it.

"Wayne, is that you?!" said Des.

"'Allo Des, it's yer old mate Wayne 'ere," said a muffled Wayne inside the suit of armour.

"What on earth are you doing in there?!" said Des, lifting up the visor.

"I just wanted to see what it's like to be a knight!" said Wayne. "But I can't get out, can you get me out, Des, please?!?!"

"This gives me an idea," said Des. "We're going investigating!"

Rather than help Wayne out of his suit of armour, Des instead got busy putting on a suit of armour himself.

"Do you wanna know what it's like to be a knight as well?!" said Wayne.

"No, no, it's just in case we get caught, no one will know it's us!" said Des. "(Other than the fact that we're the only ones who aren't on the wildlife safari). Come on, let's go!!"

Des and Wayne shut their visors, and began to make their way across the hall, which wasn't at all easy since they weren't used to walking round in suits of armour. Climbing up the long staircase was to prove even more of a challenge, as the pair kept on falling back down again.

"Hurry up, Wayne, we've only got until they've finished their safari!!" said Des.

They hobbled along the hallway until they eventually found the room they weren't allowed to go in. Des tried to carefully open the door, but trying to do anything carefully whilst wearing a suit of armour proved to be impossible, and instead the door swung open to reveal a young chap with a computer and a large printer. Currently being printed out was another so-called painting of another supposed member of the Files dynasty. The man gasped when he saw the two knights at the door.

"Who are you?!?!" he exclaimed, with a shocked expression on his face.

"I am the ghost of Sir Francis Files!!" said Des, in a deep spooky voice. "And this the ghost of, err..." He tried to remember the name of another of Files's relatives. "The ghost of Lady Fenella Files, who um, liked putting on suits of armour in her spare time!"

"Hello! I am Lady Fenella Files, pleased to meet yer!!" said Wayne, putting on a high voice.

"Who are you?!" said Des in his spooky voice. "Tell the truth now!!"

"Um, um, I'm Fraser!" said the man, nervously. "I'm Farmer Files's grandnephew!!"

"What is going on here?!" said Des. "What is this sorcery of which I see!!"

"Oh, it's a, um, what we call a 'computer'!!" said Fraser.

Des lifted up his visor a small way to take a closer look at the computer screen. He could see that Fraser was using a graphics package to superimpose the face of Farmer Files onto some real paintings.

"But I don't understand, you're not real!!" said Fraser. "You don't exist, you've never existed!! Sir Francis Files and Lady Fenella Files, there's never been any such people!! Or so I thought!!"

"We exist, all right!!" said Des. "And what about this building, is it all that it seems?! Was it built five hundred years ago?!"

"No, it was built in 1996!" said Fraser. "Now please, leave me alone, I'm scared of ghosts!!"

"We will leave you now!" said Des. "Come on, Lady Fenella!"

"Bye!!" said Wayne in his high voice.

Des and Wayne slowly backed out of the room, but only succeeded in falling over backwards. They scrambled up from the floor and hobbled off.

"I knew it!" said Des, who of course hadn't known it. "Farmer Fraud is a Files!! And he's taken our fifty pounds!!"

They tried to return to the main hall as quickly as they could, which was not very quick at all, even more so now they were sore from all the falling over.

"Quick, let's try and get all this armour off before they get back!" said Des.

But try as they might, they were stuck. Just then the others started to return from their wildlife safari. Des and Wayne quickly hobbled over to the wall and tried to stand still.

"What a waste of time," said Mick, walking into the main hall. "Just as I predicted. Pigs dressed as elephants, pigs dressed as lions, pigs dressed as giraffes..."

"Pigs dressed as monkeys walking all over my BMW X6 and ruining my paintwork!!" exclaimed Clive.

"I can't believe Des and Wayne got away without having to go through all that!" said Mick. "Where on earth are they?!"

Just then Clive and Mick heard some rattling coming from behind them. They looked round and saw two suits of armour moving about.

"Oh, I might have known," sighed Mick.

Clive and Mick helped Des and Wayne out of the suits of armour. As this was going on, Farmer Files received a text message on his mobile phone from his grandnephew Fraser, telling him of the visitation he had received from two ghostly knights. Initially, Files laughed it off, but then he noticed Des and Wayne climbing out of the suits of armour.

"Oooh, I'm so sore!" said Des, having finally been freed. "But it was worth it! We've uncovered the truth! All of those relatives of Files are fake! They're real pictures of paintings with Farmer Files's face superimposed onto them! And this building isn't really five hundred years old either!!"

"We know," said Mick. "Clive took photographs of all the paintings. When we were on that interminable safari, he image searched them on his smartphone, and found the original pictures."

"Then I looked up the location of this building on Google Earth," said Clive. "All you could see were bales of hay!"

"And we found all that out without having to get dressed up in suits of armour!!" said Mick.

"Whatever," said Des. "Are you going to confront him then?"

"You must be joking!" said Mick.

Seeing as no one else would dare, Clive went to see Farmer Files.

"Farmer Files," said Clive. "You are a fraud. None of your supposed relatives have ever existed. The Battle of Pigsworth never happened. And this building is illegal. It's not five hundred years old, more like twenty. It's been hidden behind bales of hay since then, to get round planning legislation!"

"Oooooh arrrrr!!!!!" exclaimed Files. "Des and Wayne, or should oi be sayin', Sir Francis Foiles and Lady Fenella Foiles!! You be responsible for this!!"

"No, it wasn't us!" said Des.

"Yes it was?" said Wayne, confused.

"We're not clever enough!" said Des.

"Ooooh arrrrr!!" said Files. "That be true!!"

"It was me!" said Clive. "Farmer Files, you are in breach of planning regulations!"

"Ooooh arrrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. "Oi admit it!! All that you say be true!! But it not be illegal!! Even without plannin' permission, as long as no one be objectin' to it for four years, then it be okay!!"

"That's rather a good idea," said Des.

"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Indeed it be!! In fact, it be so good, others 'ave been copyin' the idea since then!!"

"Yes, including somebody who eventually was forced to demolish his building," pointed out Mick.

"You'll be hearing from the authorities in due course," said Clive. "Oh, and can we all have our fifty pounds back? We've been brought here on false pretences!"

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. It was unclear whether this meant they could have their money back or not.

A few days later Farmer Files paid a visit to Mike and Tracy's Manic Motors. He seemed strangely keen to sell his mansion.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "Did oi be 'earin' you roight, tha' you would be loikin' to live in a house just loike Piggy Manor?!"

"Yes I would!" said Tracy.

"Would you be loikin' to buy Piggy Manor?!" said Files.

"Yes please!" said Tracy.

"Hold on a minute there!" said Mike the Manic Mechanic. "We can't afford to buy a house like that!"

"Four 'undred!" said Files.

"Four hundred thousand pounds?!" said Mike. "That's exceptionally cheap for a property like that, but even so, still a bit out of our price range."

"Ooooh arrrrr!!!" exclaimed Files. "No, four 'undred pounds!!"

"It's a deal!!" exclaimed Mike, shaking Files's hand quickly before he changed his mind.

"Does it come with the Range Rover?" asked Tracy.

"Oooooh arrrrrr!!" exclaimed Files. It was unclear whether this was a yes or no.

Before long, Mike and Tracy were moving into Piggy Manor, now renamed Manic Manor. However it wasn't much longer before they were moving out again, once the others had informed them about the dubious legal status of the building.

"I'm so glad you've agreed to buy Manic Manor," said Mike the Manic Mechanic, as he shook hands with the buyer, a certain Bill Posters.

"It's a pleasure!" said Bill.

Once the sale was complete, Mike reported back to the others.

"Oh dear," said Mick, when he heard the news. "Bill Posters will be prosecuted!"



Copyright © Robert Williams

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