by Robert Williams
Des and Mick were confused by some new additions when they arrived at Mrs Greasy's cafe one morning. On the tables in front of each chair was a tablet computer. The pair sat down at a table and peered at the tablets. On the screens were pictures of various delicious-looking foodstuffs, none of which bore any resemblance to anything Mrs Greasy had ever prepared.
"Impressed, eh?!" said Mrs Greasy, coming up to them. "Des and Mick, welcome to the future! This is my all-new, fully computerised ordering system! From now on, customers will order their meals via these touchscreens! How cool is that?!"
"And what happens then?" asked Mick. "Do the orders go through to be processed by some centralised ordering system?"
"No, I come and look at the screen and write down on my notepad what they've selected," said Mrs Greasy.
"Not exactly 'fully computerised', is it then?!" said Mick.
"So come on, try it out, select one of the mouth-watering choices from your screen!" said Mrs G.
"No thanks," said Des. "We never order anything from you anyway. You ask us want we want to eat, we say nothing, and you just dump some old rubbish in front of us."
"All of these flashy computer touchscreens can't have come cheap!" said Mick.
"They certainly didn't," said Mrs Greasy. "As a result, some patrons may notice a revised pricing structure introduced from today."
"Oh great," sighed Des, knowing exactly in which direction the pricing structure would be revised.
"What's all this in aid of, anyway?" said Mick.
"I've been conducting some research," said Mrs G. "And I have discovered that the average age of my regular customers is a whopping 67!! So I've decided it's time to attract a more youthful clientele! And what better way than to introduce a hi-tech computer ordering system!"
"Why don't you try introducing a hi-tech computer ordering system then?" said Des.
Mrs G gave him a dirty look.
"I thought of an easier way to bring down the average age of Mrs Greasy's customers," said Fred. "Just stop you two from coming here!"
Des and Mick gave Fred a dirty look.
"Anyway, as I was saying," continued Mrs Greasy. "I've been observing the youth of today, and as far as I can see, all they ever do is look at screens all the time!"
"I wouldn't mind so much if all we had to do was look at these pictures of food," said Des, looking at his screen. "It's eating it that's the problem!"
"Well, your new system had had some effect I suppose," said Mick. "Look over there!"
Sitting in the corner cafe was someone they had never encountered before. Much more youthful than Mrs Greasy's usual clientele, the newcomer had a bushy beard and was wearing a lumberjack shirt. He was engrossed in his laptop. Mrs Greasy went over to him.
"Good morning, sir, would you like to order something to eat?"
"No, I'm fine thanks," said the man. Mrs Greasy looked very askance at him. "Oh, there was just one thing. Could you give me your wi-fi password?" Mrs Greasy looked blankly at him.
"What does he mean?" mouthed Mrs G at Des and Mick. They shrugged their shoulders.
"I'm sorry, sir, we don't currently offer free wi-fi," said Fred.
"Well...there is a sign on the window which says 'FREE WIFI'," said the man.
"Durrr!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "Any fool can see that clearly stands for 'Fantastic Refreshments, Extraordinary Eaterie, With Infectious Fun Inside'! Isn't that what you said, Fred?"
"Oh yes, that's right!" said Fred, trying to hold back his sniggering.
"Oh I see," said the man. He fiddled with his laptop a little more, and then got up. "I'll be off then!"
"Don't go!!" cried Mrs G. "Don't you fancy a sausage sandwich?!" But it was too late.
"He seemed rather trendy," said Mrs Greasy. "I've seen people who look like him before, on the television I think. Just the kind of individual I need to attract. Hmmmm..." She stroked an imaginary beard.
Just then Des and Mick gasped.
"Mrs Greasy, come and look at this!" said Mick. "You've been hacked!!"
Mrs G hurried over to them and looked in horror at their screens. Gone were the pictures of foodstuffs, and in their place was an animated picture of a popular television baker, chuckling away.
"Paul Hollywood!!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "My arch-nemesis!!!!"
"How many arch-nemeses have you got?!" said Des. "First it was Ainsley Harriott, then Jamie Oliver, now it's Paul Hollywood!"
"My other arch-nemeses are Anthony Worrall Thompson, Gordon Ramsay, Mary Berry, James Martin, the hairy bikers, Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson and Jimmy Tarbuck," said Mrs Greasy. "But that Paul Hollywood, I would never have thought it of him!"
"Mrs Greasy, it's obviously not him doing the hacking!" said Mick. "If you're going to hack a computer system, you're hardly going to put up a picture of your own face, are you?!"
"Good thinking," said Mrs Greasy. "We must find out who this master criminal is. I reckon it must be someone who owns a computer."
"Well that narrows it down," said Mick.
"So does this mean we won't be able to order anything to eat?" said Des.
"Of course not!" said Mrs Greasy. "I will temporarily revert to the classic system. Still at the new prices, though!"
The next morning, Des left his house, bound for Mrs Greasy's cafe as usual. However as he did so, he was surprised to see Mick walking back towards his own house.
"Mick, you're going the wrong way!" said Des.
"Mrs Greasy's sent me home to change," said Mick. "Apparently I wasn't dressed correctly. Didn't you receive her e-mail?"
"Of course not, I've set them to go straight to spam, I think!" said Des. "Anyway, what's all this about being not dressed correctly?"
"I wrote down what she said she wanted me to dress like," said Mick. He showed Des a piece of paper with one word written on it.
"Hmmm, very odd," said Des. "Well, if that's what she wants..."
Des went back inside his house to change. He re-emerged in an entirely different outfit and went straight to the cafe. He walked inside.
"Peace, man!" he said, doing the 'V' symbol with his fingers.
The others looked bemused at Des, who was wearing a long gown, round red-tinted spectacles and a long haired wig.
"Why on earth have you come dressed like that?!" said Clive.
"I thought Mrs G wanted us to dressed as hippies!!" said Des. "Can't understand why!"
Just then Wayne came up behind him. He was wearing a grey animal outfit.
"Hey Mrs G, I've come as a hippo, like yer said!!"
"Why are you all dressed like that?!" said Des. Everyone else was wearing lumberjack shirts, jeans, and false beards - including Mrs Greasy.
"Des and Wayne, Des and Wayne, Des and Wayne," said Mrs G. "I instructed you to come dressed as hipsters!!"
"Oh!" said Des. "What's one of those, then?"
"The type of young trendy customer I'm trying to attract!!" exclaimed Mrs G. "I want you all to dress as hipsters in order to make them feel welcome! Goodness knows what kind of customers I'll get with a hippy and a hippo hanging about the place! Luckily, I've got some spare outfits for you two."
Before long, Des and Wayne had been transformed into hipsters themselves, along with Mick, who had failed to find anything suitable at home.
"When are all the real hipsters arriving then?" said Des.
"They'll be here soon, mark my words," said Mrs Greasy. "Didn't you see the sign outside? I've rebranded as 'Mrs Greasy's Hipster Cafe'. They'll be coming here in droves!"
"And that's the fatal mistake Mrs Greasy is making," said Fred Snarkbucket. "No self-respecting hipster would ever regard themselves as a hipster. So the last place they're going to come is a place with the word 'hipster' in the name!"
"So what I am supposed to do then?" said Mrs G.
"Hipsters love novelty cafes," said Fred. "We need to think of a highly original concept. And then share it on social media!"
"Anyone got any ideas then?" said Mrs G.
"I know," said Des. "What about a cafe where you serve breakfast in the evening and dinner in the morning?"
"Stupid idea," said Mrs G.
"Okay then, what about a cafe where you drink off the plates and eat out of the mugs?" suggested Des.
"Ridiculous," said Mrs G.
"A cafe where the customers cook for the cafe owner?" said Des
"Don't be absurd, I'd never risk eating anything any of you lot would try cooking!!" said Mrs Greasy.
"A cafe where you sit on the tables and eat off the chairs," said Des.
"All absolutely rubbish ideas," said Mrs Greasy. "Anyone else?!"
"I've got it," said Fred. "An idea that requires nothing to change about the cafe - except the name. 'The Revolting Restaurant'."
"Are you out of your mind?!?!?!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "A less accurate description of my cafe is impossible to think of!"
"Why would anyone of sound mind want to go to a cafe that only sells horrible food?!" said Des.
"Well you do," said Fred. "The thing is, hipsters love irony! Openly publicise the cafe as selling disgusting food, and hipsters will be flocking here! You might even go viral!"
"You're barmy," said Mrs G. "Fred Snarkbucket, I forbid you from going ahead with your plan."
Fred went ahead with his plan. Without Mrs Greasy's knowledge, he changed the sign to read 'The Revolting Restaurant'. He then publicised the cafe on several popular social media sites. Within just fifteen minutes, the place was heaving with hipsters, who were delighting in ordering examples of Mrs Greasy's horrible cooking. They were even more than happy to pay her outrageous prices.
"This is excellent," said Mrs Greasy. "How do I do it? I amaze myself, sometimes."
"You amaze me as well," said Fred.
"Hi, are you the Mrs Greasy?" said one hipster, coming up to her. "My name's Felix, and I just adore your restaurant! It's just so authentic! Keep keeping it real, Mrs G!"
"Errr, yes, I will," said a bemused Mrs Greasy.
"Hi, Mrs Greasy, my name's Florence, I love your urban chic!" said another hipster coming up to her. "Can I have a selfie with you so I can post it on Instagram?!
"Well, um, yes I suppose," said Mrs Greasy. Once the 'selfie' had been taken, she turned back to Fred. "I do have one concern. No one actually seems to be eating anything. They're all just pointing their mobile phones at their food, for some reason."
"They're taking photos of it, and sharing it on social media," said Fred, looking at his own smartphone. "Look Mrs Greasy, you're trending!!!"
"I know I'm trendy," said Mrs G.
"No, you're trending," said Fred. "Hashtag #mrsgreasy!"
"I'll take your word for it," said Mrs G, rolling her eyes.
Mrs Greasy's cafe was on the end of a block of four shops, and the other three had been empty for as long as anyone could remember, since no one would ever want to associate their business with her cafe in any way. But the Revolting Restaurant proved to be such a hit with the hipster fraternity that before long, these empty shops started to become home to a series of those pop-up shops so beloved of hipsters.
First up, moving in next door to Mrs Greasy, was a shop called Choc-a-Block, which sold only artisan chocolate products. Des went inside to investigate
"There's a great story behind our products," explained the hipster owner. "We send one man out alone in a rowing boat, who sails to the Dominican Republic the long way round!" He pointed to a photograph on the wall showing a hipster rowing a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean. "He picks up a cup of cocoa beans, and rows back home, again the long way round, and then we produce bespoke chocolate products on site, while the customer waits!"
"Yeah, whatever," said Des. "Got any biscuits? Choccy hob-nobs are my favourite."
The hipster looked disapprovingly at Des.
Next door was a coffee shop named Coffee Dodgers, and in the last shop in the block which sold doughnuts and bread, which was called I Doughnut Kneed Some Bread.
The following day, those shops had all gone and had been replaced by new ones.
"What's happened, have they all gone out of business already?!" said Des.
"No, that's what these pop-up shops are all about!" said Fred. "They pop up for a short time, then they pop off!"
As if to prove the point, one of the new shops was a coffee shop named Bean and Gone, and a home-brewed craft beer outlet named Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow. There was even The One Minute Shop, which would only open for one minute, ever, and then close down, never to open again.
More pop-up shops popped up in subsequent days. Ketchup Catch-up was a ketchup-based cafe, which not only allowed people to catch up over ketchup, but also they had to catch their ketchup, sachets of which were taped to gerbils which were running loose in the shop. There was also a shop which sold toy or model versions of things but at the price of the full-size versions. A shop named Nigel Forages, sold nuts and berries that had been foraged by a man called Nigel. The Pop-Up Book Pop-Up Shop was a pop-up shop that sold only pop-up books which tell you how to set up a pop-up shop that sells only pop-up books about how to set up pop-up shops.
At Milking It, a live cow was in the shop which customers would milk themselves, while at Hash(tag) Browns, customers paid by posting a hashtag on social media. Other refreshment-based shops included In a Pickle, Smoothie Operator and Down the Pancake.
Mrs Greasy was concerned about many of these pop-up shops being based around the consumption of food and drink.
"I don't like the idea of all these food outlets opening in the vicinity ," she said. "Won't they take away my business?"
"It's okay, that won't happen," said Fred. "It's like building extra motorways. The hipster population will simply expand to fill the additional capacity!"
Indeed that proved to be the case, and even more of the pop-up shops turned out to be cafes. Hot Mogs was a cat-themed cafe which offered nothing but hot dogs to eat. It was replaced the next door by Hot Frogs, which was a...okay, you're ahead of me on this one. The Men at Work Cafe sold only vegemite sandwiches, and played the song 'Down Under' on a constant loop. The Clarkson Cafe sold only cold meals, and customers were invited to punch a cardboard cut-out of the 'producer' on the way out.
A cafe named Take a Cue involved customers sitting down to eat at snooker tables, and only been allowed to use snooker cues as eating implements. Another environmentally-themed cafe called The Up-Cycle Cafe saw customers sitting to eat on bicycles, which would power the cafe. Unbelievably, there were even cafes where the customers sat on tables and ate off the chairs, and where the customers cooked for the cafe owners.
Meanwhile, even Mike the Manic Mechanic was getting in on the hipster act. He and Tracy came to the epicentre of the Tolworth hipster revolution, Mrs Greasy's Revolting Restaurant, to make a grand announcement.
"Greetings!" declared Mike, standing at the door in his false beard and lumberjack shirt. "It's time to announce the opening of an exciting new pop-up venture! Venture down to Mike's Manic Motors to experience Mike's Manic Meals, delicious artisan delicacies, served in the workshop! Consume your meals in the heart of a busy working garage! Who knows, you might find some oil in your omelette! And to cap it all, the area's top band, Medford and Sons, will be performing live!!"
The hipsters all ignored him.
"Mike the Manic Mechanic, you're doing it all wrong!" exclaimed Tracy. She got her smartphone, and typed the news into some social media sites. Within seconds, the postings were getting lots of thumbs up.
"Don't worry, they'll be there!" said Tracy.
And so they were - in the space of just a few minutes, hipsters were all over Mike the Manic Mechanic's workshop-cum-cafe, eating oily food cooked up by Mike and Tracy.
That evening, Mike's rock band changed both their name and their style to become the folk band Medford and Sons - although in reality they were actually miming to a CD of another similarly-named popular folk band. It went down a storm with the hipsters, and Medford and Sons were soon trending on social media.
Some of the latest pop-up shops, however, were a cause of concern to some members of the local community. For example, next door to Mrs Greasy's cafe one day was a shop called was The Mash-Up.
"I have reason to believe that mashed potato sold in my cafe is being resold in this establishment," said Mrs G, paying a visit.
"Indeed, we produce bespoke sculptures produced entirely from your mashed potato," said the hipster owner. "After all, it's far too tough to eat!"
'This is an outrage!!" exclaimed Mrs G.
Of greater annoyance to Des was what was being sold in the shop next door - toasters that were the same as normal toasters except with a larger handle and a picture of a dog stuck on the front.
"Dog toasters?!?!?!" exclaimed Des when he walked inside with Mick. "You're selling dog toasters?!?! Toasters for dogs?! But I invented them!!" He had indeed - back in Volume 27 Chapter 6.
"Did you patent your invention?" said the hipster owner of the shop.
"Umm, no, I don't think so," said Des. "But I definitely invented them first! Mick remembers, don't you?!"
"Hmmm?" said Mick. "Dunno really. My brain tends to filter out all of your past nonsense."
Unlike the time Des tried it, when the concept had proved spectacularly unpopular, the hipster dog toaster shop was doing brisk business.
"Probably because I wasn't selling them 'ironically'," grumbled Des.
They went next door to look at the final pop-up shop of the day, which was called The Wednesday Shop.
"Oh I see the hipster irony," said Des. "Because today's Thursday!"
The Wednesday Shop appeared to be a cafe combined with a shop that sold all kinds of junk and jumble. There was only one table in the cafe part of the shop, however it was larger than the sort of table you'd find in a cafe, more like one you'd have in your dining room at home.
"There's some good stuff in here," said Des, as they looked around. "Right up my street. I've got some tank tops just like these ones! And some flares!"
"All authentic upcycled goods," said the hipster owner. "Try this fantastic reclaimed sofa!"
"This is so comfy!" said Des, sinking into the fantastic reclaimed sofa. "I feel right at home here!"
"Even the crockery is like yours," said Mick, drinking a cup of coffee that he had ordered.
"Where did you get all this from?" said Des.
"All previously owned by a local idiot called Des Wednesday," said the hipster. "Hence the shop name!"
"What?!?!" gasped Des. "I'll have you know, I'm the local idiot of which you speak!! Um..."
"Oh..." said the hipster.
"Who told you you could take my stuff and sell it?!" exclaimed Des.
"Mrs Greasy did," said Tobias.
"I knew it," said Des. "Somehow or other, Mrs Greasy seems to have become Queen of the Hipsters!! It's absolutely outrageous! I'm going home to ring the police!"
He walked home to ring the police (evidently forgetting that he had a mobile phone). However when he got home he remembered that his telephone was actually one of the items for sale back at the shop.
"I suppose I'll have to go to the police station in person then," said Des. He went over to his garage and opened the garage door to get into his Fiat 126. However when he opened the door, he received a shock. His Fiat 126 was nowhere to be seen - instead there was a hipster in there, sitting on Des's penny farthing, and surrounded by plain cardboard boxes.
"It's like there's a plague of them!" said Des, exasperated.
"Well done, how did you find us?" said the hipster. "Did you follow the clues on social media?"
"I'm sorry?!" said Des. "What is all this?!"
"Welcome to The Secret Shop!" said the hipster.
"What do you sell?" asked Des.
"It's a secret!" said the hipster.
"And how much does it cost?"
"It's a secret!"
"Who told you you could set up your Secret Shop in my garage, anyway?" said Des. "Don't tell me, it's a secret." The hipster grinned. "Hmmm, I bet I know exactly who it was."
"I love this penny farthing, by the way," said the hipster. "It's so vintage, so retro, so authentic!!"
"Blah, blah, blah," said Des, closing the garage door on him.
As he turned round he was shocked to see a bouncy castle had suddenly appeared on his front lawn. Bouncing up and down on it were various hipsters drinking coffee.
"What is this?!?!?" he said to another hipster who appeared to be in charge of it. "This wasn't here just now!!"
"The Outdoor Bouncy Castle Coffee Shop!" said the hipster. "The demand for pop-up shops is so high now, we've started looking elsewhere for new locations!"
"But you can't just come along and set up a pop-up shop in my front garden!!" said Des. "Or my garage!!"
"Mrs Greasy said we could!"
"That does it!" said Des. "I'm going to call a meeting!"
Des called a meeting at Mrs Greasy's cafe, however it was chock-full of hipsters, so instead all of the usual suspects gathered at Des's table in The Wednesday Shop.
"This hipster plague has reached epidemic proportions," said Des. "How are we going to eradicate them? Anyone got any hipster repellent?"
"Why on earth do you want to get rid of them?!" said Clive. "At this rate, gentrification will soon take place, and house prices will rise to such an extent that I can finally move out of this area and away from you lot!!"
"Maybe I should just move somewhere else, to get away from the hipsters," said Des. "I reckon somewhere like Shoreditch or Hackney should be far enough away."
Clive sniggered. However he was alone in supporting the hipster invasion. Even Mrs Greasy, Queen of the Hipsters, wanted rid of them.
"I'm not happy about all these rival cafes that keep popping up next door," she said. "And that mash shop is an insult to my cookery!"
"If you want to get rid of them," said Fred, "then there's one very simple way. Remember what I said just before this all kicked off?"
"Oh yes, I remember," said Mrs Greasy. "Actually, no I don't."
So Fred reminded her. Business at The Wednesday Shop then concluded with Des buying back all of his belongings at vastly inflated prices.
The next morning, the sign on Mrs Greasy's cafe had reverted to say 'Mrs Greasy's Hipster Cafe'. Additionally, there was a sign on the window proclaiming 'Hipsters Welcome Here', and a sign had also been erected on the street corner which read 'Welcome to Hipster Country'.
As Des and Mick arrived at the cafe as usual, there was not a hipster to be seen anywhere in the locality, and there were no pop-up shops to be spotted either.
"Where did they all go?!" said Des.
"Fred said that no hipster would ever consider him or herself to be a hipster," said Mrs G.
"They'll have all gone away to gentrify some other neighbourhood," said Fred.
"So all's well that ends well!" said Mrs G.
"That's if you regard running a cafe without any customers as 'ending well'," said Fred.
"But you still haven't solved the mystery of who hacked your computer system!" said Des.
"I did contact Bones and Whoson to ask them to solve the mystery, and they conducted an extensive and wide-ranging investigation into the matter," said Mrs G.
"And what was their conclusion?" asked Mick.
"They said they didn't know."
"But I do!" exclaimed someone who had suddenly walked into the cafe. It was the hipster they had seen in the cafe at the start of this story. "It was me!"
"A hipster!" exclaimed Mrs Greasy. "It would have to be one of you lot!"
"A hipster?" said the person. "What makes you think I'm a hipster? Maybe not everything is as it seems?!"
The supposed hipster pulled away his or her rubber mask to reveal his or her true identity.
"Oh my goodness!" gasped Mrs G. "It's you! My arch-nemesis!!!"
Copyright © Robert Williams