Community Spirit – Episode 70

NATE paused, looking from one to the next. Meredith was smiling broadly, the reverend beside her.

Miss Grace stood next to Pamela, both willing him to speak, and Arthur and the major stood next to them, tummies in, shoulders back, trying not to show their nerves.

“I have heard from the brewery, yes . . .” he began, butterflies fluttering around inside him.

Miss Grace and Merdith both squealed.

“. . . but it’s not good news, I’m afraid.”

“It’s not?” the major barked.

“No. They have decided to pull the plug on the pub. In fact, they’re planning to sell the building.”

The silence was absolute as the Evensong crowd digested the news.

Nate finally spoke.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Nonsense,” Arthur replied, leaping forward and grabbing him by the shoulder. “We need to thank you for everything you’ve done for the place.”

“Hear, hear!” the major called.

“No-one could have done more,” Meredith added.

“We couldn’t have asked for anyone better,” Miss Grace put in.

Tears sprang into Nate’s eyes and he saw Cally was equally emotional as Pamela enveloped him in a great bear hug.

“It was a grand effort,” Frank said. “It’s their loss if they can’t see the Mucklebury Arms could be great again.”

“Maybe another brewery will buy it?” Meredith suggested.

They all looked at Nate.

“It’s not likely, is it?” Arthur said.

“Probably not, no,” Nate admitted, “but you never know.”

“Short-sighted shenanigans, if you ask me,” the major muttered.

“What will happen to the building?” Miss Grace asked.

“I hope a developer doesn’t get their hands on it,” Meredith added.

“Or it sits empty for years. That won’t do the village any good at all,” Frank said.

Pamela, who had looked increasingly like she was going to explode, suddenly spoke.

“Poppycock!” she cried, silencing the room.

Everyone stared at her and Nate began to feel a little afraid as she looked each of them in the eye.

“Sorry, everyone,” she said. “What I meant is there is no need for another brewery or a developer to buy the place, or for it to stand empty. In fact, this is the best thing that could have happened to the Mucklebury Arms!”

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand how that can be.” Frank looked puzzled. “We failed to save the place and now it has to close.”

“I’ve failed, Frank,” Nate corrected him. “It’s all my doing.”

“Now, now,” Arthur disagreed. “Don’t take too much on yourself. I blame the brewery.”

“No-one has failed,” Pamela said. “No-one is to blame. We couldn’t have asked for a better solution!”

This time Jeannie, who had been sitting by quietly, spoke for everyone.

“Pamela, you need to calm down and explain exactly what you mean because, at the moment, we don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”

Alison Cook