Strike Up The Band – Episode 20

Kemington began to play an arrangement from the musical “Cats”. The music rose sweetly and smoothly and swelled out into a glorious sound. Then Ellis began his solo of “Memories”, the notes so pure and sweet that the hairs rose on the back of Bethany’s neck. Her heart swelled with pride and love. Yes, she loved Ellis. Perhaps she always had but hadn’t recognised it before. She needed to see him and speak to him, whatever the outcome. Addersley might never beat Kemington with such talent on display, but they’d try their best.

Kemington’s performance closed to rapturous applause. People rose to their feet.

Now it was Addersley’s turn. Bethany felt suddenly calm. They began well and accurately, though Jason wasn’t too confident with his place as second cornet. Bethany began her solo, determined and buoyed up by the glow of feelings that filled her at that moment. She loved Ellis. He’d had faith in her and she’d show him what she could do.

She thought of Grandad and what he’d taught her. Her playing was full of feeling. She had so many memories and she channelled all her emotions into her playing. The band responded to her enthusiasm. Ken beamed at her and deep down she knew she’d done well. They finished to warm applause.

The band were delighted. Even Jason congratulated her grudgingly.

Several more bands played after them and Bethany listened nervously. She glanced round to see if she could spot Ellis but couldn’t see him among the uniforms of Kemington. Then suddenly she felt alone as the bandsmen crowded in for the final judgement. Had she done enough to get the band through? She’d had so little practice; what if she’d let everyone down?

Bethany was so agitated that she hardly took in the chief adjudicator’s speech as he congratulated all the players and the high standard of the music. She strained to hear the scores above the shuffling feet and murmur of voices around her. Some bandsmen were trying to calculate the complicated formula of the points awarded. Then came the announcements.

“First place and through to the final is . . . Kemington Silver.”

There was tumultuous applause and Bethany spotted Ellis across the theatre being congratulated by his colleagues.

“Second place and through to the final is . . . Dawson Colliery.”

There was more loud applause and cheers. Bethany held her breath. Only three bands would go through to the final this year. They had one chance left.

“Third place . . .” There was a heart-stopping pause. “Addersley Temperance.”

Bethany felt excited arms wrap round her.

“We’ve done it! You’ve done it!”

They were actually through to the final.

As they watched, filled with happiness and excitement, another man came on to the stage and spoke urgently to the adjudicator.

“One moment, ladies and gentlemen. There has been an objection to the final result.”

The two men consulted for what seemed like an age. Then the adjudicator finally began to speak.

“There has been a complaint about the substitution of Addersley Temperance’s solo player. We are bound by the rules to investigate and it may take a little while. Please bear with us.”

Bethany stared in horror as Ken hurried over to the officials. Had they achieved a wonderful victory only to have it cruelly snatched away from them?


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