La – la – lalala – lala – weeek!

La – la – lalala – lala – weeeeek!

What the hell!! How was anyone supposed to play this stupid thing. Marty threw the ocarina onto the bed and kicked the bed leg. He felt sick and his head throbbed ! He'd been trying to wring a tune from the blasted thing all evening. Sometimes he thought he was getting it and then the bloody thing would make that stupid noise. It sounded as if someone had stood on the cat's tail. There was just a week to go to the music festival and, if tonight was anything to go by, he was going to make a real wally of himself. When he closed his eyes he could see the look of scorn on Karen's face and hear the sniggers from round the church and he didn't know what he was going to do.

A couple of weeks ago he had opened the door in the early hours of the morning to find Pastor Carter standing there, arm raised to knock. Now Marty was new to farm life, he was still living in the world where there might be two six o'clocks in a day but he still wasn't used to being awake for both of them, so the man had been half way through his speech before Marty even recognised the pastor was talking to him. He should have had his more of his wits about him. When he went over the conversation later, in his head, he thought he'd agreed to take part in some music festival but large parts of the pastors speech were a blank. Somewhere, from the murkier depths of his memory he remembered that he'd said yes to playing something. Well, he'd played the recorder when he was a lad and he'd toyed with the flute so it couldn't be that bad, could it?

Three days later, Pastor Carter had come round with Karen to deliver the music and the ocarina. Stunned, Marty had listened to them going over the programme of music and yet all he could think of was " What the hell is this?" The ocarina sat there in his hands looking for all the world like a large moth eaten, holey potato with a stumpy tube sticking out of it. He had no idea what to to do with it. He'd heard Karen purring at his elbow, telling him how sexy she found a man who was into music and he found himself smiling back and assuring her just how much he was looking forward to playing with her.

Even later, when she'd come over with a second sheet of music that could barely read he'd still grinned like an idiot and said yes.

Eventually, in a panic, he'd gone to Ann for help and she'd shown him the technique to playing the wretched thing and it was actually easier than he thought but he'd left it far too late and he was nowhere near ready. He'd been so grateful she hadn't laughed at him. Up till now he hadn't realised what a great girl she was and he found himself discovering more about her every day.

The day before the festival they'd all agreed to meet in the church for a dress rehearsal and Marty turned up late, clutching the folder of music and the hated ocarina.

" Come in, Marty" Carter called down the aisle, gesturing for him to join the others. Reluctantly, Marty made his way to where Ann, Elli and Karen stood talking.

" We're going over the running order, Marty" Ann called over." Put your instrument over on the table and come and talk to us". She waved across at a spindly little table where a pile of music and two cased flutes lay in a jumble. Close by Cliff and Rick seemed to be holding a heated argument. As far as Marty could make out it was about some football match and the two men's arguments were accompanied by much arm waving and feet swerving. He put the ocarina on the table and went on join the women. As he did so he heard Ann call out,

" Give up you two, take it outside if you're going to carry on like that."

They seemed to take no notice and carried on. If anything their gestures became more violent.

"I said pack it in!" Ann's voice rose in volume. " This is a church not a football field. You're going to cause an accident if you carry on like that."

No sooner were the words out of her mouth than Cliff appeared to slip, his flailing arms caused Rick to stumble backwards and both men crashed down, sending the little table flying. Sheet music erupted into the air like startled pigeons. Both flutes and the ocarina disappeared into the melee. With a sharp cry Ann darted across to help and , somehow she too lost her footing and down she went. There were shrieks, yells, scuffles and several ominous snapping noises. By the time the others had rushed over to help Ann was on her feet and standing surrounded by so much matchwood.

" My flute!" wailed Elli, grabbing up the worn blue case and cradling it to her breast.

" It'll be fine," Ann assured her, picking up her own flute from the debris. Cliff and Rick stood there, shuffling their feet and mumbling apologies.

" Oh, Marty !" Karen wailed as she sorted among the sheets of music, " Your poor ocarina!"

They all looked down at the remains of the crushed musical instrument. Someone had put a heavy foot down on the pottery case and a large crack spread halfway across it. A piece the size of a florin was missing from between the second and first finger holes. Silently, Ann lifted up the ocarina and handed it to Marty.

" Couldn't you mend it?" Karen asked.

" No, there's no hope for this," Marty shrugged.

" What about mu solo?" Karen was distraught. " Don't we have another one?"

" Sorry," Ann replied. " and I'm sure we were all so looking forward to this." She turned to Marty, " It looks as if we won't be hearing Marty play this year. I'm so sorry , Marty I know just how much you were looking forward to this."

" Never mind," Marty answered, trying to look as crushed as the ocarina. " It can't be helped."

" I know it's a real sacrifice but it's one we'll all have to make. Karen, you'll just have to improvise. " Ann informed the angry singer.

" And next year ?" Marty asked.

" Next year will be all the better for the anticipation," Ann smiled at him. " You never know you and I can maybe find time to come up with something really special by then."

" I'm sure we will," Marty replied. " Now that wouldn't be too much of a sacrifice as far as I can see."