Clive Danton addressed the three men sitting on the bench in Hyde Park.
"Are you sure, you want to take up Mr Skoobs wager? It is a long arduous journey, and you three are not exactly Olympic athletes are you? Why don't you give him the money and forget about it"
"Give him his money!" shouted Inchcock. "I would rather lick your underpants"
"No way pedro" said Lynton "I am going to do this, even if it kills Inchcock"
"Forgive me, but are you trying to insult us?" answered Erskin.
"No!" Exclaimed Clive, "I just wanted you to know, there is a way out of the bet".
"Don't need a way out Danton, we are going to win, and take the midgets cash" said Lynton.
"And I want to see him eat that pork pie hat of his" remarked Inchcock.
Clive Danton pulled some scrap paper from inside his jacket, fumbling for a few seconds, he found the piece he wanted and began to read aloud to the three gentlemen.
"Hyde Park was purchased from the Monks of Westminster by Henry V111 in 1536".
"We don't need a history lesson Danton" said Lynton.
"Just give us the facts of the race and we can go and get a jar and something to eat" Erskin sighed.
"Okay" smiled Clive, "the park is 5.2 miles end to end. It takes the average jogger about an hour to complete, that's at a steady pace, stopping for drinks and fags. On a good day, with nice weather you bunch of geriatrics will probably take about twelve hours and need an ambulance".
"Easy, I can do it standing on my head" said Inchcock.
"Not with your body Inch, it may well fall to pieces half way round" laughed Lynton.
"And we only have one wheelchair" put in Erskin.
The men gathered up their assortment of medical appliances and made for the nearest public house.
In a railway arch off the Old Kent road, Skoob was arguing with a woman about the recent purchase she had made from his emporium.
"Look madam, I never said it would talk straight away, you have got to give it time, these parrots are very shy and won't talk to just anyone".
"But it's not a parrot!" Exclaimed the woman. "It's a pigeon painted blue and green!"
"You never said anything when you bought it off me did you" replied Skoob.
"It was in a box, and you told me not to open it till I got home in case it escaped".
"That's right, you never know with this breed of bird, one mistake and off its gone".
"You cut the flight feather off and stuck a plastic Macaw beak on it!" shouted the irate woman.
"Their beaks do fall off when stressed; it's a long way from Africa in the back of a container".
"This is a London Pigeon you got from Trafalgar Square and now you want me to believe it is a parrot from Africa, my husband is on his way with a couple of mates, so you better pay up or get served up".
"Your husband and his mates don't scare me" said Skoob defiantly.
"My husband is Freddie Frome, and he doesn't take kindly to being mugged off" said the woman.
"Tell you what" replied Skoob. "Keep the bird and here is your money back and a bit on top".
"Thank you". Replied the woman as she took the cash and made her way down the road.
"You can come out of hiding now C.J. the woman's gone and taken my profit with her".
C.J came out of the toilet and joined Skoob in the office. "Must fix the lock, it got stuck again".
"Rubbish" said Skoob, "you were hiding from that woman and her irate breasts".
"Did you see the way they kept going up and down?!" exclaimed C.J.
"I don't know what was more scary, her husband or the thought of being boshed by those boobs"
Laughed Skoob "god forbid the government raise a tax on the size of tits, she will be skint in a week".
The two men sat down at Skoobs desk and drank their tea, the tension was tremendous. Finally, one of them had the courage to speak. "Do you want the last biscuit C.J.?" asked Skoob.
"Na, you have it mate, I ate most of them in the toilet while you were arguing with Mrs Tittyfalar".
Skoob placed a map of Hyde Park on the desk, opened it out and motioned for C.J to join him.
"Now then, about this race, we will need to use all our cunning and guile to make sure they lose"
Said Skoob "I don't want to leave anything to chance, have you managed to nobble Arm?"
"No" replied C.J. " He said even if you chuck him out of the garden shed, Mrs Skoob will let him rent the loft and anyway, if you carry on, he will grass you up about the secret stash in the plant pot".
"So" mused Skoob, "We have a turd in the water pipe and need to rethink our plans".
The day of the race had been set for the following Monday, if Skoob won he would receive a thousand pounds from each man. If he lost, he would have to renumerate each man with the same.
Inchcock, Erskin and Lynton threw themselves into training. They sat at the furthest table from the bar and each man took turns to carry a tray of drinks to his friends. At the café, they limited themselves to just one sausage with their fry up and chose brown bread instead of white.
Meanwhile, Skoob and C.J. had been to the park and set out as many obstacles as they could.
Certain people had been employed to cause confusion and delay along the route, Skoob had no intention with parting with his hard earned cash. If things looked bad, he could always shoot them.
Monday 20th of February; Grey clouds hung heavy in the sky, the threat of rain had been ever present.
So it was no surprise to find Lynton, Inchcock and Erskin sitting under a huge umbrella in Hyde Park Corner waiting for Clive Danton to return with tea and coffee.
"Has he gone to India to get the tea?" asked Erskin.
"I think he must have gone to China, its much further" answered Lynton.
"Lazy, that's his problem, walks like a man carrying a sack of cement on his head" moaned Inchcock.
Five minutes after he had gone, Clive returned with the drinks.
"There you are lads" said Clive, as he handed out the drinks. "That should warm the cockles".
"Mine fell off years ago mate" said Inchcock.
"Wife sorted mine out the day after we got married" replied Lynton.
"I think I have one in the cupboard somewhere" laughed Erskin.
As they sipped the hot sweet nectar a small dark figure approached, followed by a tall cadaverous looking person who resembled Ava Gardener. "Hello lads and I use the term loosely" said Skoob.
"Very funny" Replied Lynton "Did you get the all clear from the clinic?".
"I had an ear infection, nothing more" said Skoob looking at the floor.
"Blimey, what part of the Karma Sutra did you practise then?" giggled Inchcock.
"The back page" laughed Erskin.
"We going to get this race underway or are you three backing out?" asked C.J.
Clive Danton stood up; "These silly sods are here to race, and I am here to make sure there is no foul play from either side. I have recruited certain members of The Spoof to watch over the course".
"Very noble of you Danton" said Skoob "are you saying C.J. and I are cheats?".
"Yes I am, you are a pair of vagabonds that would steal the dew drop from an OAP's nose if you could sell it, and by the way, the computer you sold me? It has no keyboard".
"I never said it came with one" replied an indignant Skoob.
"It's a laptop Skoob" Sighed Clive.
"Never mind all that" interrupted Erskin, "let's start the race".
"Okay" said Clive "The boys will do one lap of Hyde Park starting here and finishing at the Refreshment Kiosk in two hours. They must complete the five miles as a team and arrive at the finish together, if one person drops out, the bet is forfeit Skoob and C.J. win the money, is that right?"
"Perfect Mr Danton" replied Skoob and C.J. "Let's synchronise our watches".
The party set their watches, and at nine in the morning, the race officially started.