Strike Up The Band – Episode 26

Luckily it was dry on the day of the big football match. All of Addersley seemed to be there.

In the first half Albion managed to score a fluke goal against Sheffield to the roaring delight of the crowd, but the league team drew level just before half-time.

Half-time was the band’s cue to march out on to the pitch. Ken had chosen their repertoire carefully from both sides of the Pennines. “Ilkley Moor Baht ’At” seemed to go down well, as did “Lassie From Lancashire”, but when they began to play “Go, Go Addersley”, courtesy of Gilbert and Sullivan, the whole ground erupted.

“I bet they heard that in Sheffield,” Ken joked.

The band marched off to great applause, then there was a pause before the second half began.

“That wasn’t a bad performance, was it?” Len remarked to Ellis. He was in the stands collecting for the band once more. “Our Bethany is really coming along.”

He craftily scrutinised the young man’s face for a reaction and was rewarded by a beaming smile.

“You should have seen her at the Winter Gardens,” Ellis said with feeling. “She was inspired. I’ve never seen her play better. I felt so proud of her.”

A good sign, Len thought to himself. The lad certainly seemed interested.

“I was gutted when they challenged the result,” Ellis added. “I wanted to speak to her afterwards but I didn’t get the chance. You’ll tell her I wanted to congratulate her, won’t you?”

“I will that, lad,” Len said, smiling to himself. Then he had a thought. “By the way, I’m having a bit of trouble with my central heating. I think I must have mucked up the controls or something, but I didn’t want to bother your dad. Do you think you could pop round on Monday evening and have a quick look at it for me?”

“Sure, Mr Douglas,” Ellis agreed. “What time?”

Len felt very smug. Bethany usually called after tea.

“About seven thirty, if that’s all right,” Len said, chuckling to himself. James Bond had nothing on Len Douglas when it came to subterfuge! Now all he had to do was make sure Bethany arrived.

The bucket Len had been rattling was full of coins and getting heavy. He paused and set it down, feeling suddenly tired. Luckily Ellis was seated at the end of a row.

“Are you OK, Mr Douglas? Here, take my seat. Would you like me to get someone?”

“No, lad. I’ll just sit for a moment. That bucket’s heavier than I thought.”

Ellis lifted the bucket.

“You’re not kidding. It weighs a ton. I’ll carry it back for you.”

Len knew that was a sensible idea. He’d reached the limit of his strength.

“If you’re sure, lad, that’d be very kind of you.”

After a moment’s rest for the older man, they climbed back to where the band were sitting in front of the directors’ box.

Bethany jumped up when she saw Ellis with her grandfather.

“Are you all right, Grandad?” she asked anxiously.

“Fine, lass, just not as strong as I was. Ellis was good enough to carry the collecting bucket for me.”

“It weighs a ton.” Ellis smiled at Bethany. “Your grandad’s collected a mint.”

“I’m surprised that Ellis didn’t nick it,” someone from the band sneered.

Ellis wisely ignored them.

“Congratulations on getting to the final,” he said warmly to Bethany. “You really deserved it. You’ve never played better.”

“Thanks,” she said, smiling into his eyes.

“And best of luck for the final,” he added, unwilling to leave.

“Hark at him. It’s that Kemington Silver that’ll need luck,” someone called over. “Addersley’s got the talent.”

They all knew it was a hollow boast.

“I’d best be going,” Ellis said reluctantly.

Len noted Bethany’s eyes longingly following Ellis and hoped his scheme would work. Nothing could have gladdened his heart more than to see this young lad he was so fond of and his precious granddaughter finding happiness together. He had no idea that Ellis was savouring Bethany’s smile but still thought she was seeing Des, placing her beyond his reach.


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