Strike Up The Band – Episode 01

It was a glorious day. The air was fragrant with the smell of newly mown grass and a fresh breeze softened the heat of the full sun. In front of the bandstand the colourful and happy crowds milled in anticipation; mums and dads, grans and grandads, babies in pushchairs, children and dogs gathered from all over the park to watch the band.In the shade of the trees fringing the natural grass arena, lovers lingered with their hands entwined. Bethany watched them with a curious feeling of longing. From a deckchair at the front of the crowd, Grandad raised his thumb in encouragement. Ken Norton, the bandmaster, tapped his music stand and Bethany nervously raised the cornet to her lips, then they began. After a hesitant start she began to relax and lose herself in the music. By the time Ken directed her into her solo she felt almost light-headed, as if she was flying. She’d never played better. The crowd burst into spontaneous applause as they finished the first number.“Coming on nicely,” Ken murmured with approval.Bethany relaxed back on to her chair.“That was great,” Rachel whispered from behind with her euphonium on her lap.Bethany rarely played first cornet and never in concert, but Jason Cale had phoned in with a sore throat just before they’d left, and Ken had turned to her.“You can do it, Bethany,” he’d said nonchalantly. “Anyway, it’s only the local park. It’s not as if we’re competing for a prize or anything.”That was supposed to give her confidence? But she’d tried her best and her best had been good. She’d felt it to her very core.The rest of the concert went well and the crowd clapped in appreciation as each number ended. They played many old favourites, some classics and some new melodies. The kids had especially loved the “Wallace And Gromit” theme. From his vantage point Grandad nodded in approval. Then Bethany noticed another familiar face. Mitch was wagging his tail as he recognised her and she followed his lead up to Ellis’s smiling face. She hadn’t recognised him immediately out of his uniform. He’d been a valued member of the band until a month ago.Seeing Ellis and Grandad spurred her on to greater efforts and by the end of the concert she felt very satisfied. She knew she’d impressed the two men whose opinion she trusted most.The concert finished, as always, with the hymn “For Those In Peril On The Sea” an odd choice for the landlocked town of Addersley. It was the favourite hymn of Captain Nathaniel Corbett, who had founded the band. He’d been a Victorian sea captain who’d come back to his home town to take over the reins of his father’s mill.The captain was a much-loved philanthropist. He wasn’t very interested in cotton, but he dearly loved music. In the hope that his band would turn his mill hands from the evils of drink, he’d insisted the first membership be strictly temperance. Addersley Temperance Band had since fallen by the way, and the band was now practising in the function room of the Golden Hind pub while the Corbett Community Hall was being refurbished, but they honoured the Captain’s memory with their name and his hymn.


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