Previously in Leeford Village: Ziggy presents his father’s song, ‘Love Me Crazy’, to the band. Clare is impressed, more so than Zack when Ziggy, her ex-boyfriend calls her ‘Babe’. Ted realises his error when The Cross’s six-a-side walking football team find themselves facing an opposition of eleven, on a full-sized pitch.
‘Great song, isn’t it?’ says Simon, vigorously polishing his shiny keyboard with a soft cloth.
Zack is sitting at Clare’s drum kit, tapping out a beat on the snare.
‘Ziggy’s dad’s song. It’s perfect for us.’
Zack hits the snare hard and the drumstick bounces into the air, landing on the floor by his feet.
‘Perfect, is it? It would be wouldn’t it? Ziggy brought it.’
‘Ego a little battered is it, mate?’
Zack scowls then lets out a long sigh.
Simon stops his keyboard polishing and sits on the top of his amplifier.
‘What’s up, Zack? That’s the best rehearsal we’ve had. And it is a great song.’
‘It’s not that.’
‘What is it then?’
Zack scoots from behind the drum kit on the drum stool and sits in front of Simon.
‘Clare? OK, she’s behind the beat sometimes, but she does some nice fills. Did you hear when she…’
Zack cuts him off. ‘Not her drumming.’
‘Sorry, mate. I’m not with you.’
‘I think I’m losing her. To Ziggy. To Mr Perfect.’
‘You’re joking, mate. The way she looks at you, she’s totally smitten.’
Zack looks down at the floor.
‘He called her “Babe”!’
‘I wonder if she used to call him “Babe”?’
Simon shrugs again.
‘She’s never calls me “Babe”’, mumbles Zack.
‘Sorry, what was that?’ asks Simon, cupping his ear.
‘She’s never calls me “Babe”!’ repeats Zack, louder this time and with a look of anguish that Simon has never seen before.
‘Wow, he has upset you, hasn’t he?’
Zack nods. Simon shifts uncomfortably as he notices Zack’s eyes filling with tears.
‘I think you’re imagining things, Zack. She’s over Ziggy; they finished ages ago.’
‘Is that right? Well, you don’t call someone “Babe” unless they mean something to you.’
Simon bites his bottom lip.
‘I suppose you might have a point there.’
Zack breaks into what Simon will later describe to his friends as a ‘roar’.
‘Take it easy, mate,’ he says, wishing he had left the rehearsal with the others. He has been Zack’s best friend for as long as he can remember, but dealing with a crying, roaring Zack is something he is not prepared for.
‘If only I could write a song for her. Show her how much I love her,’ sniffs Zack.
Simon turns off his amplifier and stands by the door, so he can make a swift exit should Zack becomes too emotional.
‘You did write a song, Zack. I thought it was great.’
‘Yeah, it was a great song…about another girl!’
‘Oh, yes. “Amanda”.’ Simon grins broadly. ‘So, it was about a real girl!’
Zack blushes. ‘Kind of. It was a holiday thing. I was with my parents and she was staying in the chalet next door, with her friend.’
‘Wow.’ This is more like the Zack that Simon had known all these years.
‘And did you and her, well, you know…’
‘No! We never even spoke. But I was obsessed with her for a whole week. And for a few weeks after we got home.’
Simon laughs. ‘So, you wrote a song about her? Maybe you should track her down. She’d be impressed. She might even speak to you!’
‘It’s not Amanda I’m trying to impress, stupid. It’s Clare.’
‘Anyway, I’m not even sure her name was Amanda.’
They both laugh and Simon breathes a sigh of relief.
‘It was still a good song. I’m sure you can write one for Clare.’
Zack shakes his head. ‘Yes, but it won’t be anywhere near as good as Ziggy’s.’
‘Don’t be so defeatist!’ says Simon standing up, ready to leave. ‘Anyway, it wasn’t Ziggy’s song, was it? It is was his dad’s.’
It’s Zack who is now wearing a grin.
‘You’re right, mate!’ he stands up and goes to hug Simon, who backs into the doorway.
‘I am going to write a song for Clare. I’m going to write the best song she’s ever heard!’
The group of men standing at the bar in The Cross could not look more crestfallen if one of them had accidentally thrown away the jackpot winning lottery ticket.
‘What’ll it be then, lads?’ asks Sally, Ted’s wife and lunchtime barmaid. ‘Champagne all round?’
‘Just a pint for each of the lads, love,’ says Ted, ‘on the house.’
In silence, Sally places a foaming pint of beer in front of each of them.
‘Dare I ask who won?’ she asks, pouring a bottle of Diet Coke for Ted.
The men stare into their glasses.
Nick looks at Ted.
‘Ask Matt Busby over there,’ he says, not without a little contempt, thinks Sally.
She looks at her husband, who has picked up his glass and is walking over to a table in the corner.
‘Annihilated we were,’ says Cody. ‘Annihilated.’ He picks up his drink and takes a sip.
‘Annihilated,’ repeats Nick. ‘I was trying to think of a word I could use to describe the experience to Jessica. “Annihilated” sums it up.’
Ted is sitting in the corner, his head in his hands.
‘What was the score?’ asks Sally.
The men look at each other.
Justin shrugs his shoulders. ‘We don’t know, Sally.’
‘You don’t know?’
‘No. They scored a lot and we didn’t score any. The referee said he lost count after seventeen and came into to our dressing room at half-time to see if we knew how many it was.’
‘At half-time? Seventeen? At half-time?’ Sally looks over at Ted who is nodding his head slowly.
‘Could have been more, but they took pity on us,’ says Steve.
‘Well, I won’t ask you about the second half. What went wrong?’
Everyone looks at Ted.
‘They had a five men advantage,’ says George, ‘a five, huge, young, fit men advantage.’
Sally shakes her head. ‘You mean, they had eleven players?’
The men nod collectively.
‘You mean, this wasn’t a six-a-side walking football game?’
The men shake their heads collectively.
‘Oh, Ted. What did you do?’
Nick picks up his pint and drinks half of it in one gulp.
‘Not only were we annihilated. We were humiliated, Sally.’
‘Yes,’ says George, ‘there was a group of young lads, about seven or eight years old playing behind the goals. They asked if we wanted them on our team!’
Ted rises and walks over to the bar, places his empty glass on a beer towel and turns to the line of men.
‘Sorry, lads,’ he says, quietly. ‘I’m really, sorry.’
Nick is about to speak when Jack Simmons, Leeford’s walking book of quotations bursts through the door.
‘Right, lads. Here’s one for you. “We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought”. Who said that?’
The men turn in unison towards Jack.
‘What? You need a clue?’ he asks.
‘Not now, Jack,’ says Sally, fearing for his safety. ‘Not now.’
The band have tuned their instruments and spent five minutes warming up, the guitarists playing snips of well-known rock songs and Clare perfecting a paradiddle she has been practising on cushions at home.
Zack calls for silence. It takes a while, but eventually he has the floor.
‘Before we start, I have a new song.’
Simon gives him the thumbs up.
‘Who’s it by Zack?’ asks Adam.
Zack takes a couple of deep breaths. He looks over at Clare, sitting behind her drum kit.
‘Wow. In a couple of days. That was quick,’ says Ziggy nodding his approval.
‘Yeah, well, it just came to me.’
‘Like “Yesterday”?’ asks Adam.
‘No, the day before yesterday,’ says Zack. The others groan.
‘Oh, I see, you mean how Paul McCartney wrote...anyway, I’ll play it to you.’
‘What’s it called?’ asks Clare.
Zack feels his face reddening.
‘It’s called, “Clare”.’
There is much mocking of Zack from Simon and Adam and Clare looks down at her drumkit, a smile on her lips.
Zack plays the song. It’s a simple structure, three verses and a chorus, expressing his undying love for Clare, the girl he dreams about every night, the girl he wants to be with forever. When he has finished, there is stony silence, broken eventually by a ‘wow’ from Ziggy. Zack looks at Clare who is looking at him the way she has done since they first met.
‘Oh, Babe. Thank you!’
Simon mouths the word ‘Babe’ at Zack, who punches the air.
‘Shall we give it a go then?’ Zack calls out the chords to the band as they run through the song a couple of times.
When they reach the chorus for the second time, the band stops playing, except Zack who is not aware of his mother standing in the doorway. Eventually, realising he is the only one playing, he turns around.
‘Mom! I’ve told you…’
Mrs Peterson clasps her hands.
‘Zack. That was wonderful. I haven’t heard that song since…’
‘A couple of days ago,’ interrupts Zack, waving his mother away.
‘Oh, no, love. Not since, oh, it must have been thirty years ago. Your father used to sing it to me, when we were courting. He loves that song.’
‘I can’t remember the band. They were pretty obscure and it was one of their album tracks, so not many people know it…’
‘…oh, I wish I could remember. We’ve still got the record somewhere. I’ll dig it out.’
Zack wishes he could dig himself out of the hole that is becoming deeper with every word his mother utters.
She turns to leave, but pauses in the doorway.
‘And I love the way you’ve changed some of the lyrics. “Clare” fits so well.’
There is stunned silence in the room.
Zack looks at Simon who is shaking his head.
‘That’s it,’ says Zack, throwing his guitar down on the floor. ‘I quit!’
Catch up on all the episodes and find out more here:
For more details visit www.michaelbraccia.co.uk