Community Spirit – Episode 51

FAR from being placated by Nate’s words, Fergus seemed more agitated.

“That could be years away,” he said, his voice raised. “You’ll be long gone by then so what does it matter to you? I’m the one who’ll be left with half a business, fighting for every penny.”

“Now what’s all this?” Arthur had left his place on the green and joined the two men. The rest of the team continued to bowl, but all were listening to the discussion unfolding before them.

“Just finding out the lie of the land,” Fergus said, “and telling some home truths. Nothing wrong with that.”

“There is when it comes from a bully like you who’s only interested in himself,” Arthur said, pointing a finger at the middle of Fergus’s chest.

“Now, Arthur –” Nate began.

“It’s OK, Nate. The man needs telling. He swans into the village, doesn’t lift a finger for the community, and gets worried when someone comes along who cares. Where will you be,” Arthur started, turning back to Fergus, “when the townies desert you for some other country pub? You’ll get no backing from the village, I can tell you.”

“Why, you . . .” Fergus took a step forwards but stopped as the rest of the bowls team crowded in behind Arthur in a circle.

“Arthur, Fergus, stop, will you?” Nate said firmly. “I will say this one final time – there is room for both of us in Much Mucklebury. We have different businesses and are in very different markets. There are enough customers to go round for both pubs.

“Arthur, I hope the townies don’t desert Fergus for the next big thing, and I don’t think they will. Fergus, you have a wonderful setting, a great chef and a good team of people supporting you. There is no reason to be worried about the Mucklebury Arms.”

“Hear, hear,” a couple of voices from the crowd piped up.

Arthur and Fergus had the good grace to look ashamed.

“It’s good for Much Mucklebury to have two pubs, for the income it brings into the village and the employment,” Nate continued. “We shouldn’t be fighting each other. We should be helping each other make sure both pubs have a successful future. What’s better for the village than to have two pubs offering something for everyone?”

“Of course, you’re right,” Arthur admitted. “Sorry, Fergus. I got a little out of hand.”

Fergus cleared his throat.

“Me, too.”

“Now let that be an end to it,” Nate said.

He nodded to Arthur that he should get back to his bowls and turned back to Fergus.

“I’m not your enemy, I never have been. I wish you could see that,” he said.

“Yes, I do,” Fergus said, not meeting his eyes. “Sorry about all that. I do get a bit het up. It’s just that me and Debbie are working our socks off over there, and doing well, don’t get me wrong, but we’re hoping to buy our own place some day and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.”

“That’s understandable,” Nate agreed. “It’s every landlord’s dream to own his own business. I wish you every success.”

“It’s just you seemed far more competent than the others that were sent in.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” Nate smiled, offering his hand.

Fergus shook it and walked back over the green.

Nate turned back to the bowls, wondering whether Fergus really did want to own his own pub. It didn’t fit with what Nate knew of the man.

He seemed to have a liking for more instant gratification, like flash cars, but whatever Fergus’s goals were, Nate was sure money was at the root of them.


Alison Cook