Brian had a good seat. He’d watched the band with mixed feelings. He’d been there himself many moons before and his heart couldn’t help but lift with the music.
Beside him a man turned to chat.
“Did you see Albion’s little mascot?” he asked proudly. “That was my son, Jamie.” He was on his own and eager to share his news. “He usually comes to the match with me, but I applied for him to become the mascot. His mum’s with him now. He’s met all the players.”
“I bet he was thrilled.”
“I can’t tell you! Do you have any lads?”
“I’ve got two girls,” Brian said, though baby John instantly slipped into his memory. He bit his lip and hesitated. “That was my elder girl playing in the band. She plays the cornet.”
“Really? They were great. I’ve never heard ‘Go, Go, Addersley’ sound better. You must be proud of her. It’s wonderful to have a talent like that. I hope our Jamie’s musical.” He paused in thought. “We spoil him a bit. We waited a long time for him to arrive. My wife and I lost a baby early on in our marriage. He was premature and his little lungs didn’t expand. I suppose these things happen. That’s why our Jamie’s so special to us.”
The man paused and smiled.
“I’m sorry to be bending your ear like this. It was all a long time ago, but it stays with you somehow. But thanks for listening. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to strangers.” He seemed embarrassed that he’d opened his heart. “Look, here’s the team!”
He rose to his feet cheering and a loud chorus of “Go, Go, Addersley” echoed around the grounds. The Sheffield fans began to sing, too, and the echoes vied with each other around the stands. Brian sat alone with his thoughts, despite the cacophony around him. The singing simmered down to an expectant silence as the game began.
“These things happen” and “You must be proud of her” was what the man had said. How had he let all these years go by without saying those simple words to Bethany? He’d been too stubborn even to go and watch her play in the band. It wasn’t her fault that he’d lost his son, and it wasn’t the fault of his dad for not being there for his wife in his absence. He’d needed someone to blame and yet no-one really was to blame.
He’d wasted years in useless anger. There and then Brian made up his mind to make amends to his family. He turned to his companion.
“You know, if your little lad wants to try an instrument when he’s older, he can always go to Addersley junior brass band practice. They provide the instruments and the tuition. If he takes to it he can have a lot of fun.”
“Thanks.” The man smiled. “I’ll remember that.”
If he were truthful to himself, Brian had had a lot of fun with the band. It was only in his teenage years that he’d rebelled. He’d found friends outside the band with other interests and then begun to resent the time his parents spent with the band. For a moment all these thoughts whirled round his head, mingled with memories of baby John. Then the match claimed his attention.
Sadly Addersley Albion weren’t giant killers that day, but they weren’t humiliated, either, and everyone went home satisfied that they’d tried their best. When Brian went home, the first thing he did was give Diane a hug as she made their evening meal.
“What’s that for?” she asked, smiling. “I thought your team lost. I’ve been listening to the match on the local radio.”
“The team lost, but I think I’ve gained something, even if it’s only peace of mind,” he said with a thoughtful smile.
He didn’t elaborate it was too soon but Diane noticed him standing in front of baby John’s photo and wondered what her husband was thinking.