'Ere, you the guy that was asking about hiring a brass band for your summer fete? Yeah, I reckon I can sort you out. I know a few people, I can make a few calls - if the price is right and you're not the type to ask too many questions. What? Oh no, it's all kosher, all above board. None of your tone deaf amateurs with a Grade 1 in the recorder. These people are very nearly semi-professional, and they've got all the right gear. There won't be a bent flugelhorn or wonky glockenspiel in sight, my friend. This is the dog's. It's just that the people I work with don't like to get bogged down with filling in tax returns and the like, so this will have to be a cash-only arrangement if that's all square with you? It is? Lovely. Well, what is it you'll be needing then squire?

Ah yes, a man with the right priorities! Well chief, the cost very much depends on what you're after. See, the way we work it is that a flat fee of £350 gets you your basic setup for three hours. So, for that you get your tuba, you get your snare drum, you get three horns, a couple of cornets and a trumpet. Then we start talking about your add-ons. Trombones are twenty quid a pop and each additional cornet will cost you a tenner. We can get you a drummer for fifty. For eighty we'll supply him with a drum kit, which is recommended really as it gives him something to take out his frustration on. Otherwise he'll just end up thrashing the life out of the front row and that sort of thing doesn't tend to go down too well the punters in my experience.

Of course, if you're... err... if you're looking for something a little bit more exotic then I may be able to have a word with the right people. Nothing dodgy, of course. We're talking about something you wouldn't normally get in a brass band. Oh, I don't know, shall we say a bassoon for example? Perhaps you're more of a clarinet man? Or maybe it's an oboe that floats your boat? Pricey, but it would be a great talking point.

Come now, you wouldn't expect a businessman like me to reveal my contacts, would you? Let's just say that there's a certain national philharmonic orchestra that would be a little light in the woodwind section for a while. Anyway think about it and let me know.

I guess you're going to have to talk it over with your committee or whatever. That's fine, of course, but don't leave it too long 'cos I've got a fair few people interested at the moment. Tell you what, you know Dave down at the Red Lion? Yeah, Dave with the nose. We've got an arrangement, so you just let him know when you're ready and he'll get a message to me.

Oh, by the way, is there going to be a free bar at this do of yours? No? Pity, we can usually knock a few quid off if there is - these guys don't half get thirsty. Never mind. Remember, just slip the word to Dave with the nose and I'll have the trumpets warmed up faster than you can say John Philip Sousa. Whoever he was.

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