Community Spirit – Episode 35

INVICTA were a small local brewery, and owners of the Goose and Gander. Nate shook his hand.

“Aren’t you in the wrong pub?”

Richard smiled.

“Not at all. I heard there was a new landlord here and asked around. It seems you’re quite well known in the area – a solutions man with the Midas touch when it comes to failing pubs.”

“I don’t know about that. But I do know the pub trade. Been in it all my life, first as a potman, then bar, then management.”

“So you like a challenge?”

“Don’t we all?” Nate was still wary after his conversation with Fergus.

“I’ll cut to the chase,” Richard said, sipping his drink. “We have lots of opportunities for someone like you. Invicta is growing, even in difficult times. Most of our pubs are showing healthy returns. There could be the chance to get in on an expanding business and take it somewhere.”

“I’m happy where I am.”

“I’m sure you are, but this type of pub is on its knees.”

“I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t believe it’s a hopeless situation.”

“I admire your spirit, but you know as well as I do that people don’t come to drink any more. They come to drink and eat.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Nate replied before refusing to discuss the possibility of him leaving the Mucklebury Arms any further.

Later, as Nate ruminated on his earlier conversation with Fergus, he began to feel angry.

At the time Arthur had become flustered and Nate had calmed him down, which had taken his immediate focus. Now, as the Spanish class studied their verbs, and Nate had time to ponder, he felt annoyed at the jealousy and mean-spiritedness that drove Debbie and Fergus.

He’d never asked anyone in the village to choose between the Arms and the Goose. Fergus had shunned the locals when he went after the townies, but now seemed determined to win them back to spite Nate.

What annoyed Nate even more was that he’d let Fergus fabricate a rivalry he didn’t feel. The village could sustain two pubs, but Nate had allowed himself to be distracted.

As the Spanish students took a break and queued at the bar for more drinks, Nate made a vow to do whatever it took to save the Mucklebury Arms, for his own self-respect, and for the villagers who deserved to see it remain open.

Un centavo por tus pensamientos.” It was Mr Garcia, the Spanish teacher. “A penny for your thoughts. You look like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

Nate smiled and took the offered glass for a refill.

“I was thinking a paella and pool evening would go down well, don’t you think?”

“You don’t have a pool table.”

“Well, a chorizo and chequers evening, then? Or salsa and skittles?”

“Have you been drinking?” Mr Garcia asked good-naturedly.

“I haven’t. In fact, I’m thinking clearly for the first time in a while. The curry and quiz evening was a roaring success, but I need to keep it fresh, so how about a different country each week or month, with different pub games, to generate some excitement and get a buzz going around the pub again?”

“You can sign me up,” Mr Garcia declared.

“And me.”

“Me, too.”

They looked round and realised the whole class had been listening to Nate’s impassioned speech.

Nate grinned.

“I guess that’s a yes, then!” he said.

If this was going to be his last trouble-shooting job for the brewery, then he was going to make it a success.


Alison Cook