Community Spirit – Episode 50

ON Sunday morning Cally brought Nate a cup of coffee in bed.

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” she said. “It’s nearly time to open up.”

“Is it?” Nate asked, sitting up in bed. “I should get dressed.”

“Stay where you are,” Cally ordered. “You’ve got time for a coffee.”

She perched on the end of the bed with a glass of orange juice.

“How come you’ve slept in so late? Are you still exhausted from yesterday?” she asked.

Nate sipped his drink.

“I don’t feel too bad,” he said, “even after helping Jeannie pack her stall away as well as my own. I stayed up late totting up the figures to see where we are.”

“And where is that?” Cally asked, looking unsure.

“Honestly? The figures are good, but I’m not sure they’re good enough. This place needs nurturing and patience, but I don’t think the brewery wants to give it that. I think this was a last-ditch attempt to see if it could be a money-spinner again, but it’s not happening fast enough for their liking.”

“They haven’t exactly given you much support,” Cally pointed out.

“I didn’t expect them to,” Nate admitted. “Except for hearing me out on the proposal on food. I did expect they would at least listen to what I had to say. But with every cloud there’s a silver lining.”

“Which is?”

“If the news isn’t good I’ll be able to talk to them about a permanent posting for us. Just one move and we can settle somewhere for as long as you like.”

“I don’t want to go too far,” Cally told him.

“That’s fine. I’ll tell them you have to be able to go to the same school. I know of a few places nearby that are in a bit of a state at the moment. I’ll make sure we get the right one,” he said with a wink.

Nate emptied his coffee cup and Cally held out her hand to take it as she stood up to let him get dressed.

At the door, she stopped and turned.

“I don’t want to go very far at all,” she said sadly, before disappearing back towards the kitchen.

That afternoon Nate wandered out on to the green to watch the bowls team practise. There was something soothing about the calm demeanour of the players and the musical chink of the bowls.

The sun was shining but not as hot as yesterday, and the breeze had a cold edge to it.

Lost in thought, Nate didn’t hear anyone approach, but Fergus’s loud nasal bray shocked him out of his reverie.

“What a cracking day for the Goose yesterday,” he stated. “Can’t remember a time I took so much money at a fête.”

Nate turned and smiled but didn’t respond.

“So how did you get on?” Fergus asked.

“All good,” Nate replied vaguely. “The pub did well and we raised a bit for the WI-sponsored charities with the bowls match.”

“Well enough to stay open, eh?” Fergus asked, the huge grin on his face accompanied by something else in his eyes.

“Oh, well, I’m not sure about that. It’s up to the brewery what they decide,” Nate told him.

“But you’ve managed to turn things around?” Fergus’s grin was replaced with a frown.

He really is worried, Nate thought.

“Fergus, there is room for both pubs in Much Mucklebury, especially now things are on the up and people have a pound or two in their pockets again. I believe you have nothing to worry about.

“Houses are going up all the time. In fact, I heard someone say yesterday there’s talk of fifty houses on the old farm-packing site down the road. That can only be good for us both.”





Alison Cook