Community Spirit – Episode 17

ON Tuesday night Nate heard loud voices coming from the village hall before Pamela appeared with what looked like the whole female population of Much Mucklebury.

“Come in, everybody,” she called. “Introduce yourself to our new landlord who’s come to revive the pub. With our help, of course.” She herded the group in, pushing a woman dressed in a pink dress and flowery espadrilles to the bar first.

Nate smiled as the woman looked up and blushed. It was Jeannie.

“We’ve met.” He smiled, feeling suddenly shy.

“Move along then,” Pamela ordered, ushering Debbie from the Goose and Gander to the front.

Nate watched as she took in every detail around the pub before turning her attention to him. She looked him up and down as far as the heavy oak bar would allow and then smiled a fixed grin.

Nate said hello and served her as quickly as he could.

The WI women were fun and drank a surprising amount of white wine as they asked what they could do to help the pub. Pamela mentioned she had received a letter from the council in the post that morning saying the community centre would be closed from the end of the week.

“It’s a temporary closure until adequate funding can be secured from central government,” she informed them. “We all know what that means.”

“Where will you go?” Nate asked.

“We’ve been discussing that this evening. We have a couple of ideas but both venues are outside the village,” Pamela replied.

“That’s no good,” Nate said. “What if you were to use the Mucklebury Arms? It’s in the village, it’s large enough, and I could give you exclusive use on a Tuesday evening between seven and nine. How does that sound?”

Pamela beamed at Nate.

“That would be fantastic!” she said. “Are you sure?”

“Of course.” Nate smiled. “It will be my pleasure.”

“Then yes!” Pamela cried, pulling Nate to her and planting a huge kiss on his cheek. “Thank you.”

As Nate and Pamela chatted about practicalities, Jeannie sipped at her drink and Nate found himself glancing over every so often. With more enquiries about food, Nate promised to see if he could make it work.

“But who would I get to cook?” he asked Pamela.

“Don’t worry about details,” she said. “If you’re serious about it I can think of plenty of women in the village with the skills to do it. Whether they’d want to or not is another matter, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Alison Cook