Even with a glitter drought, and a stock room emptied of red and green card the Christmas nativity season is in full swing – lights, camera, action! Down come the dusty boxes full of tea towels for the shepherds and the white leotards for their disobedient sheep, the angels’ wings are getting repaired and has anyone seen the baby?
Next up, it’s casting where us teachers ask ourselves which budding thespians are confident enough to take on a speaking part? Who is coordinated enough to work in tandem within the confines of the camel costume? Who is best suited to an inanimate role, maybe a tree or a well-behaved bush?
With a hastily produced script distributed to all sundry we plough into the unknown, accompanied by some raucous carols that make the walls shake. Why is it that the loudest, most enthusiastic singers can never hold a tune and make up their own words as they go along? It will all be fine on the day say the ashen faced teachers, chewing their nails and raising their eyebrows.
In reality, one of the joys of teaching is the sheer unpredictability of the job. No day or hour is the same and, as you can imagine, no nativity ever goes exactly as planned! Here are some of my favourite glitches over the years:
1- One of the three kings was in the wrong over-sized costume and got tangled up in the garment whilst mounting the stairs, ending up a foot tall with a hunched back.
2- The innkeeper fell asleep mid performance and started snoring.
3- Mary picked up baby Jesus by the hair and threw him into the hay. Social services hadn’t been invented back then.
4- Father Christmas (he tends to make an appearance at these events) farted during a quiet interlude in the performance.
5- The back of the camel made a bid for glory and overtook its sedate front end.
6- An errant choir member completely un-tuned my guitar between songs unbeknown to me, making me sound like an avant- garde jazz artiste.
7- The backdrop fell down making it impossible to follow that star.
8- Santa’s sleigh over turned at high speed due to frisky reindeers.
9- Everybody forgot their lines and five year olds can’t lip read teachers.
But all’s well that ends well. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year – now where’s that sherry?
Andy Williams qualified as a teacher at Reading university in the late eighties and has been ploughing his trade in the East end of London ever since. His sideline business is writing. He had his first poem published as a youngster back in Wales and has recently completed his debut novel.