Strike Up The Band – Episode 14

“I’m just popping out to Claire’s for a bit,” Lacey said, putting her head round the dining-room door.

Ken was poring over the band’s accounts at the dining table.

“All right, love. Don’t be too late. It’s school in the morning.”

“Right, Dad. See ya.”

Ken smiled to himself. Claire was certainly a popular girl these days. She was lucky enough to be living on the same street as Jason Cale and all the local teenage girls seemed to be mesmerised by him.

In his heart of hearts Ken knew that Ellis should have been his first cornet in the band, but promoting Jason was the only way to keep his father sweet and to make sure his financial support kept coming into the band.

The other reason why he’d given a prominent place in the band to Jason was that the girls loved him! His appearance in public always attracted the support of a gaggle of fans. He was certainly a good-looking lad, but Ken hadn’t noticed it until Lacey’s obvious crush on Jason had brought it to his attention. She was too young and unsophisticated to attract serious attention from Jason, but it did no harm to have a group of teenagers cheering and clapping enthusiastically whenever their heartthrob put in an appearance.

Ken shook his head. The things he did for the band! He stared at the mound of papers and tried once again to make the numbers add up. It was a crying shame they hadn’t won any prize money at the Whit Friday contests. He was feeling guilty about Len Douglas, too, but how could he have known that Len would be taken ill?

Deep down he knew it had been a mistake to promote his daughter Lacey to the senior band so soon, but he’d wanted to keep an eye on her. He’d tried to be father and mother to her since his wife had died, but the commitments of the band seemed all consuming at the moment. If only there had been funds to allow the junior band to compete, there would have been no problem. Some of the instruments needed replacing and repairing, and most of the youngsters’ parents relied on the band to supply them.

To make matters worse, the costs of the coach had risen again with the petrol price hike and if it wasn’t for Mr Cale offering to pay for it they would have struggled. But for the butcher to try to push that nuisance of an advertising board on them was a bit much.

“‘Cale’s Best Meat A Treat To Eat!’” Ken chuckled to himself. He didn’t know if advertising was allowed at the contest, but he’d persuaded Mr Cale that the rules didn’t permit it. Still, if Jason’s father withdrew his financial support they’d be in trouble.

Ken was sorry, too, that they hadn’t had the funds to have a potato pie supper after the contest, as they’d done in Len’s day, but there just wasn’t enough money in the kitty.

Len had presided over the band in a time of plenty and instituted many popular outings, but now Ken was struggling. He’d tried arranging some band concerts around the town, but many venues had had to raise their prices recently due to the struggling economy. Somehow Kemington Silver always seemed to have made bookings before him.

He stared at his books in the vain hope that he’d missed something. The trust fund that Captain Corbett, the founder of the band, had set up in Victorian times had no doubt been a large sum in the distant past, but it barely paid for the rent of the rehearsal rooms these days. In such straitened times he could hardly ask the players for more subs when all their own household bills were rising. Some were already behind in their payments.

Still, he’d managed to arrange a performance outside the big supermarket in the town precinct the following Saturday, and hopefully plenty of shoppers would put their spare change in the collecting bucket to support the town band. That would give them some breathing space for a while.

Just how could he generate more income? Was he powerless to save his beloved band from folding?

Ken sighed again. The band had been his lifeline when his wife had died. It would break his heart and the hearts of many others to see Addersley Temperance disband after so many generations of tradition and wonderful music.


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