Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do not falter little donkey, there's a star ahead

‘The little baby Jesus’, says Thing Two confidently, ‘was found in a manger in his Daddy’s tummy.’

That DOES sound like the Greatest Story Ever Told. I secretly hope this is the version they’ll be performing at his nursery, but fear I will be disappointed.

This year, for the first time, both Things are in Christmas productions – by coincidence on the same day. Glory be, I’ll need a snifter or two after that little lot. Thing Two, being top of the food chain at preschool by dint of age, and presumably, supreme understanding of the nativity story, is a King. He is the one with the dud gift of myrrh, which no-one knows what to do with. Everyone can always use a bit more gold and Frankenstein.
When quizzed about the actors playing the other two kings, Thing Two sniffily refuses to accept their existence, insisting there is only one king. I guess the others will be kept busy helping Joseph with the birth, anyway.

Thing One, being in a lowly class at school, is part of a faceless production line of angels and stars, who have little to do other than try not to clutter the stage while the big kids hog the limelight. The main character, according to Thing One, is the donkey, so I am also looking forward to seeing this version. It might be directed by Scorsese, and have the donkey realising that he is destined for great things if he can only throw off the shackles of his humble origins. He fights with the sheep to gain supremacy. Then he incites the unimportant angels and shepherds to rebellion, and they leap out of the chorus to overthrow Herod, and get into some decent camcorder footage.

This is a spirit of the blitz time of year, when parents are urged to ignore other, more trifling responsibilities, such as work, and come to the aid of the juggernaut that is the school Christmas season. It’s finding purple things for hampers and buying eye-wateringly-priced Christmas cards and dressing your child in tinsel and making decorations and baking cakes and buying other people’s cakes and, as Hoxton Mum reminds me, doing our bit for the artists and makers fair at the Town Hall this Saturday.

‘I’ve made exquisite little samplers’, says Hoxie. ‘Bringing back the traditional arts, you know.’

I reach out for one and she snaps, ‘Don’t touch it! I’m pricing them at a tenner a throw.’

I wipe my hands on my jeans and she says, ‘What are you selling? Some mums are doing hand-printed silk scarves, and Supermum’s giving us some of her etchings.’

‘A cake’, I improvise.

She rallies quickly. ‘Oh yes, the art fair café is always very popular. The homemade cakes are a particular draw. Well done you!’ and she turns back to her needle-point, like the bitchily patronising sister-in-law in a Jane Austen novel.

Waitrose have nice, homemade-looking cakes. Memo to creative self: remember to remove the packaging.

Beth Miller, 1st December 2009. Published in VivaLewes.com and as an updated version in Viva Lewes magazine, December 2010. Photo by Alex Leith

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