Community Spirit – Episode 31

IF Fergus had put the words Much Mucklebury’s Premier Pub on the posters to rile him, Nate wasn’t going to let him know it had worked.

“Should be a good night,” Nate replied. “I wish you all the best with it.”

He walked away, back straight, shoulders up, but halfway over the green he looked up at the missing E of the pub sign and slumped forward again without realising.

Back at the pub, Cally was waiting for him.

“Sit down,” she ordered and pulled up a chair to sit opposite him, knee to knee.

“What’s up?” Nate asked.

“It’s not me,” Cally began. “I’m worried about you. When we got here you were up for the challenge and all excited about saving a village pub, but now you just look sad.” She held up a hand. “And don’t say it’s because the brewery won’t let you do food. When have you let a little thing like the brewery get in the way of what you know to be best?”

“I’m grateful for your concern, but I’m fine,” he said, looking at her in what he hoped was a convincing manner.

“Is it Jeannie?”

“What? No! We hardly know each other.”

“Dad . . .”

“OK,” he said, putting his hands up. “I’m more disappointed than I ought to be that things aren’t going to work out with her. For the first time since your mother . . .” He looked at the floor. “Wow, this is difficult for me to talk about. Especially with you.”

“It’s fine, Dad.”

“I don’t want you to think I’m being disloyal to your mother.”

“She left you for another man!”

He took a deep breath.

“I guess I’m saying I miss having someone to love. Apart from you, of course. That came out wrong. I’m sorry, I love you, but –”

“You should be with someone.” Cally took his hands in hers. “Someone should be loving you, apart from me. Things with Jeannie could still work out, given a bit of time.”

“I don’t think we’ll have much time here. Something isn’t right about the brewery turning the food down flat. I think they’ve got other plans for this place which don’t include us.”

“Another move?” Cally asked, distressed. Nate realised he’d said too much.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He looked at his daughter’s anguished face and felt a rush of shame. “It’s not much of a life for you, is it? I’ve been selfish over the last couple of years. I’ve not been thinking straight and I’ve uprooted you at a time when you should have had stability. This is a very important time for you and I’ve mucked up, haven’t I?”

“No, Dad, not at all.”

“I have. I haven’t been fair to you. All I could think about was getting away from our old place and all those memories.”

“I needed to get away, too,” Cally confessed. “She left me, too. It was the right thing for both of us to move away.”


“There is no but.”

“Cally, talk to me. Please.”

It was Cally’s turn to look at the floor.

“It’s just, I’m going into my GCSE year and it would be nice to be in one place until the exams are over.”

“Cally, look at me.”

She glanced up, her eyes brimming.

“I understand, and you’re right, it is the best thing. Maybe it’s time I stopped running. We’ll see how things pan out over the next few weeks and then I’ll ask the brewery for a more permanent posting. How’s that? We can settle somewhere for a bit until you leave for university.”

“I’m never leaving you, Dad,” she said.

“You’re not?”

“No. Who would do my washing?”


Alison Cook