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The first time we met Jeremy and Jemima’s wicked Uncle Jeff, we discovered that he was not so much “wicked” as “irresponsible.” Mum and Dad decided that it would be better if he did not look after the children again. But when Dad forgot to book a holiday, the family went to stay with Uncle Jeff in his house by the sea. A little oversight by Jeff led to the children getting into heaps of trouble – and their uncle getting into even more.

The character of the Wicked Uncle was inspired by our friends at the Wicked Uncle website

Story by Bertie

Read by Natasha. Duration 21.46. 

It was summer. Everyone was going away on holiday. Everyone, that is, except for Jeremy, Jemima and their parents. You see, Dad hadn’t booked a trip this year because he couldn’t decide where to go. Europe was so expensive. America was so far away. India was so hot. Oh dear. He couldn’t think of the perfect place that would be just right.

School had already broken up for the long vacation. The kids were growing bored. Mum was becoming irritable. And Dad was still studying the travel pages of the newspapers.

“Well there’s always England,” Mum said one Sunday morning in July.

“England….” repeated Dad … as though he had never heard of the place, although he had lived there all his life. And then he added: “Doesn’t it always rain in England?”

At this Mum lost her patience: “Well look out of the window. Does it seem like it’s raining to you?” she snapped. Because you see, it had been hot and sunny every day for a month.

And Jeremy pleaded: “Dad we must go on holiday. We can’t stay in this dump all summer long.”

And Jemima began to sing:

“I do love to be beside the seaside. I do love to be beside the sea.”

Dad shook his head and muttered that it was probably too late to go on holiday to the English seaside, because everywhere would be booked up by now.

But Jeremy had an idea.

“I know. Uncle Jeff’s got a holiday house by the sea. Let’s go and stay with Uncle Jeff. Can we please?”

“Oh NO!” said Mum. “Not with Uncle Jeff.”

And the thought of staying with his brother was enough to make Dad go upstairs to his study and scour the internet for holiday cottages by the sea. Unfortunately he was right. It was too late. Everything was booked up.

On the first of August, the tyres of Dad’s big blue estate car crunched up the driveway of Uncle Jeff’s country house by the sea.

“Wow” said Jeremy. “This isn’t a house. It’s a castle!”

“Don’t be silly, Jeremy,” said Jemima. “In the old days big houses had turrets to look nice, not because they were real castles.”

And although Uncle Jeff’s house wasn’t quite a castle, it was certainly large. His sports car was parked in front of the house. He kept a boat on a trailer in the garage and he had a few sheep to nibble the grass on the lawn. If you went round the back of the house, you could see the sea. And a rather noisy family of sea gulls was living in the turret that had so impressed Jeremy.

As the family clambered out of the car, Jeremy asked : “Dad why is Uncle Jeff so much richer than you? And Dad looked cross and muttered something about ill-gotten gains.

And by then, the “Wicked Uncle” himself was standing on the steps leading up to the front door and calling out:

“Hello Gang!”

The kids both waved and called back “Hello Uncle Jeff!” but Dad couldn’t have looked more annoyed if a sea gull had just pooped on his head.

Uncle Jeff’s housekeeper showed the family to their rooms and then they all came down to the dining room for tea and scones.

Mum asked: “Well kids, what do you want do this holiday?” and Jeremy and Jemima chorused “Go to the beach!”

But Dad looked a bit fed up because he thought the beach was boring.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Uncle Jeff. “I’ll take the kids to the beach so that Mum and Dad can have some time together. They can take a lovely walk along the cliffs to the next village where there’s a great old pub.”

And although Dad thought that the walk along the cliffs to the old pub did sound rather nice, he said: “It’s alright Jeff. We’ll look after the kids.”

Jeremy and Jemima loved everything to do with the beach. Digging sandcastles, eating ice cream, playing volleyball, diving into the waves, and snoozing in the sun. Mum and Dad both wore big floppy hats, put on sun cream, and read big fat paper back books.

In the evenings they went into town and walked along the waterfront where they bought fish and chips. The town was an old port built on the mouth of a wide river leading out to sea. There was always something interesting to look at, as the water was always busy with yachts and fishing boats, and the car ferry sailing to and fro.

On Thursday evening there was something rather different to look at. A sleek white yacht the size of a ship had pulled into port. It was so big that it made the other yachts look like toys. Everyone was impressed, and none less than Jeremy.

“I bet its owner is even richer than Uncle Jeff,” he said.

“Yes, I wonder who owns it,” said Mum.

And later that evening, when they asked Uncle Jeff about the yacht, he promised to speak to his friend who knew all the gossip about the port.

The routine of beach during the day and stroll during the evening continued, but when Dad had read to the end of his book, he began to think how nice it would be to take that walk along the cliffs to the pub. And when he mentioned the idea to Mum, even she said:

“Yes it would be nice to have a break from the kids.”

Dad pondered: “I don’t suppose they could come to any harm on the beach with Uncle Jeff.”

And Mum agreed:

“No I don’t suppose they could.”

The next day they gave Uncle Jeff his instructions for looking after the kids. They must wear hats and sun lotion. They mustn’t swim too far out to sea. They mustn’t have more than one ice cream each. They mustn’t shriek and make too much noise. And Jeff said:

“Right-oh. Got ya.”

Which didn’t make Mum feel at all reassured.

But Uncle Jeff did make sure that the kids wore hats and sun lotion. And he only them bought two ice creams each. And for a while, he did watch them while they were swimming. He even bought them a little inflatable boat, so that they could have some fun floating on it and jumping on and off into the waves.

But the thing that made the day more interesting than other days on the beach was that the Russian yacht had moved. It was sitting anchored out at sea not that far away from the beach. When a helicopter took off from the deck, Jeff took out his binoculars and let Jeremy look through them.

“Wow that’s amazing” said Jeremy.

Uncle Jeff said that the owner of the ship was called Sergei Manovich and that he was one of the richest men in Russia – in fact he was richer than some countries.

“Wow he must be really wicked,” said Jeremy. And Uncle Jeff agreed that he probably was.

Uncle Jeff watched the kids play all morning, but in the afternoon he decided that it would probably be alright if he allowed himself a short nap. “After all, they are good kids really,” he said to himself. “And they can’t come to much harm on the beach.”

Jeremy and Jemima were playing ‘Pirates’ with the little boat. At first they didn’t go more than a few yards from the beach, but gradually the waves and their game took them a little further out. They were still among the swimmers and the wind surfers, but Jemima said:

“Jeremy, I think we ought to go back in,” and they both leant over the boat and started to paddle with their hands. But instead of returning to the beach, the current pulled them further out. First Jemima and then Jeremy started to wave and call out “Uncle Jeff! Uncle Jeff!” but he was fast asleep and didn’t see or hear them.

Soon they were really quite a long way out. “Oh no. I think we are in trouble,” said Jemima. And even Jeremy felt frightened.

They were so far out now that they were closer to the Russian ship than the shore. Jemima could see a sailor on the deck as he leant against the side and watched the beach. She waved frantically to him and called “Help Help” and after a while the sailor waved back.

“He thinks you’re just saying hello” said Jeremy. But fortunately the sailor was smarter than that, because very soon after, the yacht started to lower a life raft down the side. “Thank goodness we’re saved” said Jemima. But when Jeremy and Jemima stood up in their little boat, it tipped over and both of them fell into the sea. A sailor dived off the life raft and swam over to help them. It was a bit of a struggle, but both children were hauled spluttering and shaking up onto the raft. One of the sailors said in a foreign accent:

“Well kids. Would you like a ride back to the beach, or would you like to see on board our ship first?”

Jemima said: “Back to the beach please.”

But Jeremy said: “Oh can we see the ship? Please please can we see the ship?”

Back on the beach, Uncle Jeff sat up slowly and scanned the shore for a sight of the children. He couldn’t see them anywhere, but he said to himself:

“I expect they’ve gone to buy another ice cream.” Then he rummaged in his bag and took out his binoculars to have another look at the Russian yacht. He noticed a life boat being winched up the side. He focused in closer and saw two small children in the boat.

“Funny. They look a bit like Jeremy and Jemima,” he said to himself. And then he noticed their little dingy capsized near by. “They are Jeremy and Jemima” he said. “Oh no. I’m going to be in a heap of trouble for this.”

And he ran down to the sea and started to swim out towards the yacht as fast as he could. He was a powerful swimmer, and he soon reached the yacht. He started to climb up the anchor chain. This was no easy thing to do, but Jeff was no ordinary uncle.

On board the ship, two young ladies wearing sun glasses, hats, and bikinis took charge of Jeremy and Jemima. They showed them the swimming pool, the gymnasium, the beauty salon, the cinema, and the helicopter pad.

“It’s like a floating palace,” said Jeremy. And one of the women said, “Yes, it is exactly like a palace.”

“Excuse me. Are you Russian?” asked Jemima.

The lady whose name was Chiara laughed and said “No. I am from Italy and my friend Julia is from Brazil, but the owner is Russian and the crew are from Ukraine.”

And at about that same time, at the other end of the ship, two Ukrainian sailors were amazed to find Uncle Jeff clambering on board from the top of the anchor chain.

“Hi. I’m looking for my niece and nephew,” said Uncle Jeff, as he jumped onto the deck. But the sailors did not understand him. Instead, they tried to grab hold of him.

“Oi. That’s not a nice welcome,” said Uncle Jeff and threw a punch at one of the sailors. This was a rather silly thing to do. The second sailor hit him over the head with something heavy and Uncle Jeff fell unconscious on the deck. The sailors dragged him down into the hold and locked him inside a sea container.

Jeremy and Jemima were sitting by the swimming pool and sipping milk shakes. “I think we should go back to the beach now if you don’t mind,” said Jemima. “Our Uncle Jeff will be worried about us.” And Chiara said, “Yes I will go and ask the sailors who rescued you,” and she went off to look for them.

Up in the bridge of the ship, the two sailors who had found Uncle Jeff reported to the captain.

“So we have a British spy,” said the captain. “We shall put him out to sea and get rid of him before the boss gets back.”

Soon after that, Jeremy and Jemima noticed that the ship was starting to move. Jemima ran up to a sailor and said “You can’t go out to sea. You’ve got to take us back to the beach first.” But the sailor didn’t understand what she was saying, and besides, he was busy.

Jeremy ran off to look for Chiara and Julia, but he couldn’t find them anywhere. Eventually he bumped into Jemima who was also looking for help.

“Oh no,” she said. “I think we’ve been kidnapped.

“Perhaps they are going to take us to Russia,” Jeremy said sadly.

But the ship did not go very far out to sea before it stopped and weighed anchor again. A group of sailors gathered on the deck and two of them held a long piece of wood. They started to tie it to the railing so that it stuck out over the edge of the boat. It was a bridge to nowhere.

When Jeremy saw this, he grew very frightened. “Do you know what?” he said. “They are pirates. And I think they are going to make us walk the plank.”

“Don’t be so silly,” said Jemima. “Why would they want do do that?” But Jeremy whispered,

“Hide!” and both of them slipped inside the door to the beauty salon.

Ten minutes later Jeremy cautiously looked out of the porthole to see what was going on. He saw that two sailors were gripping a man by his arms. His hands were tied behind his back. They were dragging him towards the plank.

“Jemima. Come and see this,” said Jeremy. “They’ve got a prisoner and they are going to make him walk the plank.”

“Oh stop being stupid,” said Jemima, but she was curious enough to come and take a look through the porthole.

“Oh my goodness me!” she said. “That’s Uncle Jeff!”

And both the children rushed out onto the deck.

“Stop! Stop!” cried Jemima. And Jeremy ran up to Uncle Jeff and threw his arms out to hug his legs.

“Kids, am I glad to see you!” said Uncle Jeff. “You won’t believe this. These guys were about to make me walk the plank.”

The sailors seemed confused and one of them went to talk to the captain. A little later the helicopter landed on the ship and, Sergei Manovich, the Russian owner, climbed out, bowing his head under the rotor blades. Chiara and Julia were up on the helipad to meet him with kisses and hugs. They pointed to Jeff and the children, and he gave them a friendly wave.

A little later, the children were splashing in the pool. Uncle Jeff was chatting to Sergei while Julia and Chiara sunned themselves. Towards evening, a life boat took the visitors back to the shore.

As they drove back to the house, Uncle Jeff said: “I don’t think we need to tell Mum and Dad about this little adventure, do you?” And Jemima said:

“No. And we won’t tell them that you bought us two ice creams either.”

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