Community Spirit – Episode 02

THE front door did indeed need a big shove and Nate almost fell into the pub. Two steps down, the flagstones were well swept and clean, dotted here and there with wooden tables and mismatched chairs. To the right, an inglenook fireplace was hung with copper pots, pans and kettles, a display of dried corn-stalks and thistles in its grate.

The bar was opposite the front door, a long expanse of oak topped with peeling beer mats and ringed at the bottom with a brass foot-rail.

Leaving the front door open, Nate checked out the toilets – old but clean – and pushed the door to the outside. The optimistically named beer garden was more of a car park with a couple of wooden tables.

Grass and shoots pushed their way through poorly laid tarmac and the pub’s bins were lined up to one side next to an abandoned wood pile.

Cally sat down on one of the benches. It creaked ominously and she leapt up again. She looked at Nate with raised eyebrows.

Looking at the rear of the building, Nate let out a long sigh.

“Well, it looks like the same old story to me – a once-thriving village pub with no investment for years sees profits slide,” he said.

It was an all-too-familiar situation and one he’d dealt with a number of times in recent years.

“But look at this place! This building’s right on the green. There’s obviously money about and that other pub seems to be doing well. It could be a gold mine, this place.”

Cally smiled at him.

“What are you grinning at?” he asked, smiling back.

“It’s nice to see you excited about something again, Dad,” she said.

“I’ve got something to work with here. There’s potential in the place,” he said, pulling her in tight.

She giggled and tried to wriggle away.

“I’m not a baby!”

“You’ll always be my baby,” he said, hugging her even harder. It felt good to hear her laugh. They both needed a new start and Much Mucklebury was the place to do it.

Alison Cook