Community Spirit – Episode 62

ALTHOUGH the day had been warm, the evening had developed a chill.

Nate searched in the cupboard under the stairs for some matches to light the fire in the pub.

Instead of finding matches under the old tins of polish and dusters, he found the missing E of the pub sign.

A small sense of victory washed over him – he now had all the letters to complete the sign and would pop up a ladder in the morning and put this one back.

But the sense of loss at not being able to save the pub soon chased away his good feelings.

Nate knew he couldn’t put off telling the Evensong crowd for much longer, and through them the rest of the village.

He owed it to them, for all they had done to help him, and he knew he had to do it soon. But what would they say?

Would they feel he had let them and the community down? They had put in so much effort to save the Mucklebury Arms and he hadn’t been able to pull it off.

“Dad!” Cally was standing inside the door to the bar, watching him. “You’re doing that staring thing again.”

“What staring thing?” Nate frowned. “I was just polishing up the E from the sign. I found it at last.”

“No, you were staring into space holding the E in a bar towel,” Cally corrected, coming to give him a hug. “Are you OK?”

Nate dropped the E on to the bar and returned her hug.

“I’m fine,” he assured her. “I’m just mulling over not being able to save this place, and where we’ll go next – and who with.”

Cally stepped back.

“I suppose by that you mean Mum?”

“I do.” He looked at Cally, so grown up yet still just a child. “How do you feel about her being back?”

“It’s OK,” Cally replied, not looking at him. “How do you feel?”

“Oh, Cally. You being happy with having your mum back is the only thing that really matters to me right now.”

“But I wouldn’t be happy if I thought you weren’t,” Cally pointed out.

“If you’re happy, I’m happy,” Nate told her.


They both looked away.

“So, where do you fancy going next?” Nate changed the subject. “I told Mr Forman we wouldn’t go far so you could stay at the same school.”

“I think I’d like a village pub,” Cally told him, “maybe on a green, somewhere pretty, and with nice people.”

“Like we have here, you mean?” Nate laughed.

“Oh, yeah!” Cally made a face.

“It’s a shame I couldn’t have saved this one,” Nate mused.

“But if you had, we’d still be moving on,” Cally pointed out.

“Good point.”

“Does this mean Mum will be coming with us?” Cally asked.

Upstairs, a door slammed and heavy footsteps pounded on the stairs.

Steph burst in.

“I’m starving,” she said, looking at Nate. “Shall I put some dinner on?”

Nate looked at Cally, who was watching her mother closely.

“I don’t think we have much in,” he said. “What do you want to cook?”

“I don’t mind. It will be nice to all sit down together,” Steph answered.

“You choose, Cally.” Nate turned to his daughter. “Whatever you fancy.”

Cally chose pizza before disappearing upstairs, and it was with some relief that Nate left the pub for the short walk to the shop. As he walked he saw Fergus leave the Goose and cross the green towards him.

As he got close, Fergus called out.

“Just the man. I wonder if I could ask a favour?”

Alison Cook