Community Spirit – Episode 25

EARLY on Friday afternoon, Jeannie and Pamela arrived at the Mucklebury Arms.

Nate helped them unload the carrier bags from the boot of Pamela’s car before leaving them to it with strict instructions on timings.

Jeannie unpacked the bags and filled the large refrigerators in the kitchen. She began preparing the curries first, the long, slow cooking process just the thing to make the most of the flavours.

The pub filled with the smell of spices and Nate was asked when he’d be taking orders. He directed those people to the signs for the pub quiz and quickly filled the remaining places. There would be six teams of six, plus Nate, Jeannie, Frank and the girls to be catered for.

He went through to the kitchen to tell Jeannie the number and was impressed when she didn’t seem fazed.

He hesitated by the door.

“Jeannie?” he began. “Could I ask a favour?”

“Of course.” She stopped chopping and gave him her full attention.

“It’s that party proposal for Liv. I wondered whether you’d pass it on for me?”

“No problem,” Jeannie replied. “I think she’s in the WI team for the quiz, but I’ll drop it round to her over the weekend in case it gets left behind. Is that OK?”

“That’s great. As long as you don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” she said.

Nate loitered by the door.

“Can I do anything to help?” he offered.

“Not unless you can make daal or samosas.” Jeannie smiled.

“Er, no,” Nate admitted. “I’ll stick to my side and you do the food.”

Jeannie smiled at him.

“That’s the ticket.”

By six-thirty the pub was full. Everyone had drinks in their hands and were munching Bombay mix.

There were to be four rounds of ten questions, after which the curry would be served, followed by another four rounds.

Pamela was selling raffle tickets in support of a local children’s charity. When everyone had a strip she went round and sold more. Nate bought five strips for Jeannie as a thank-you for cooking the food.

The team from the Goose stood talking to each other by the fireplace, Debbie and Fergus staring around the pub, assessing the smallest of changes.

Nate had gone over on Monday to see if they wanted to stand a team, expecting them to decline, but it seemed he had underestimated their competitive spirit.

Like the major, they didn’t seem to be approaching this as a friendly and had managed to find a doctor, a lawyer, a retired teacher and an art dealer to make up their team.

Frank called everyone to order and they sat down at their tables. Frank was quiz master, Nate was to keep score and Jeannie was putting the finishing touches to the curries in the kitchen.

Alison Cook