Strike Up The Band – Episode 31

Buoyed by his efforts as a wrinkled cupid, Len went with Janine to canvass for sponsorship round the shopping precinct.

She had a soft spot for Len, ever since he’d made her the first female member of the band. She strongly suspected he’d wanted to prepare the way for his granddaughter, but Janine was grateful anyway.

“We’ll start with the bakers,” she decided. “They sell more pies and cakes when we play in the precinct.”

The manager recognised her in her band uniform.

“Hello again, Mr Douglas,” she greeted Len, who was a regular customer.

Then she noticed Janine’s clipboard.

“So, what can I do for you today?”

Janine explained the band’s hope for sponsorship from the traders in the precinct.

“We’ll play in the precinct a couple of times a year and display a board naming everyone who sponsors us. It needn’t be for a huge amount. Then we’ll print all the names at the back of our programmes. We’re having a sticker printed for firms to display in their shop windows or vans. We need extra sponsorship now we’re in the final.”

“The finals, eh? Impressive!” the baker said. “I’m sure we can do something. I tell you what how about cupcakes?”

“Cupcakes?” Janine asked.

“That’s right,” Len said. “I bought some supporting Addersley Albion. There was a big daisy on the top in the team’s colours. Very nice they were, too.”

The manager looked over Janine’s uniform.

“A big deep-red daisy with a gold centre should look nice. We’ll donate a percentage of the sales to the band. Addersley Albion has done very well out of us.”

“Brilliant,” Len thanked her, shaking her hand. “So we can rely on you?”

“Most certainly. It isn’t every day Addersley folk make the finals.”

They weren’t always as successful as they went round the precinct, but soon they had half a dozen shops who’d agreed to sign up for sponsorship.

They left their details with several more, as Len reckoned they wouldn’t want to be left out when their rivals displayed supporting stickers.

“Do we try Cale’s butchers?” Janine asked.

“No need,” Len decided. “They already sponsor us. We’ll give them a sticker when they’re printed and stick their name on all the various bits.”

“What about the graphic designer’s?” Janine asked.

“We can only ask,” Len said.

The manager had already heard of their campaign.

“I’ve just got a commission from the baker’s,” he said, grinning.

He showed them a mock-up of a poster design on his computer.

“Addersley Temperance

Band in the Brass Band Finals,” Len read from the screen, displaying a tasty-looking cupcake with a big maroon daisy. “Buy a cupcake and support our band. She’s quick off the mark.”

“Perhaps you’d like to support us, too?” Janine asked.

The man sat back on his chair.

“My uncle used to play trumpet with the band. I can’t afford a donation at the moment, but I’ll give you a discount on printing the stickers the baker mentioned. Would that qualify me for sponsorship?”

“We’ll take anything we can get,” Len replied, smiling and shaking the man’s hand.

They reported back to Ken with their achievements.

“Come and report back to the band after rehearsals tonight,” Ken suggested. “It’ll give them a boost knowing how many people are backing them.”

* * * *

That evening’s meeting wasn’t as straightforward as they’d expected. Len had almost finished telling the band their plans when Mr Cale burst into the room. Jason looked sheepish.

“What’s all this about collecting sponsorship from the precinct. I hear you went into the other butcher touting for business. You’ve no right to go begging to some second-rate butchers and ”

“We’ve no intention of limiting our sponsorship, Mr Cale,” Ken began, but Cale blustered on.

“And what’s more, you’re trying to edge out my lad for some chit of girl who can’t hold a note.”

An angry Len immediately jumped up to confront the butcher, annoyed at the slur upon his granddaughter, but Ken put a restraining hand on his arm.

“That ‘chit of a girl’ got us through to the final,” Ken said sternly. “The judges didn’t seem to think she couldn’t hold a note. And if Jason hadn’t let us down, he would have had the chance to prove himself, too,” he added.

He glanced over to Jason, who immediately turned very red.

“Don’t think I won’t withdraw my sponsorship,” Cale threatened.

“You are quite at liberty to do so,” Ken reminded him calmly. “But it might look a bit odd if some ‘second-rate butcher’s’, as you call them, is sponsoring the band where your son plays solo and you aren’t backing us. But as I say, it’s entirely up to you.”

The butcher glared at him.

“I’m reviewing the situation,” he said angrily and stormed off.

One of the trumpet players cheekily played a couple of bars of “Reviewing The Situation” from Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!”

Jason scowled and Ken brought them all to order.

“That’s enough, now. Let’s get on, shall we. Mr Douglas and Janine have gone to a lot of trouble on our behalf and the people of Addersley are giving us their support. Let’s give them something to be proud of.”

The band murmured their agreement. Then Ken turned to Len.

“And I think we should thank Mr Douglas and Janine for all the hard work they’ve done for us. They’ve helped the band immensely by bringing in all this sponsorship and support.”

“It was Len who charmed the money out of the tills,” Janine said with a chuckle. “I couldn’t have done it without him. He seems to know everyone.”

“Nearly everyone in the town has had someone in their family who played in the band,” Len said, smiling. “They just needed reminding.”

Prompted by Ken, the band members gave both of them a round of applause.

“Thanks, mate,” Ken said.

“Any time,” Len replied, secretly pleased he’d been able to help and gain Ken’s gratitude. “You know I’ll do anything to help our band.”

“I know that now.” Ken paused then added quietly, “And I’m very sorry I didn’t always think that way.”

“Don’t mention it,” Len said generously as Ken shook his hand warmly.

A week later lots of the shops had stickers in their windows and the cupcakes were selling really well.


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