The annual schools Christmas play… something that strikes terror and joy into parents lives in equal measure. They are never dull in my experience and always good for a few bar stories at a later date. My all-time favourite was from when I was 10 and two angels had a full on punch up on stage during the song ‘Little Donkey’. Blood was spilt, teachers panicked and parents laughed, people in my town still speak of that Christmas play in hushed tones.
This year I had not one but two school plays to attends, one for each of my two children. The first was my sons I’d been looking forward to it as he rarely got to attend a school play let alone be in it until recently due to some caveman type attitudes where I live in some schools towards kids on the autistic spectrum. But alas I was hit by a rare but mega migraine on the way there…. So I never made it into the hall to see him sing tunes from the musical Oliver.
Now my daughters… there was no way I was going to miss that one as well. So I wrapped myself up, looked after myself…and I even drank very little to ensure all went according to plan. Drinking less over the festive period isn't easy, it seems events conspire to make you want to drink more, or failing that free drinks are provided that often its rather hard to say no to. (Especially those little green and blue ones!)
With the tickets booked and after being hammered for raffles tickets at a most exorbitant price, in we all trooped into the school hall. Complete with hand painted backdrop obviously done not by children but by an adult on too much mescaline. Things didn’t start well….
The whole play was one of those ones where a school buys / rents the entire thing costumes, music script etc from a place then puts it on. The trouble is it all hinges on the background tape with the music and songs working and being queued up correctly. Something you maybe unsurprised to learn wasn’t done. So after the poor kid who was tasked with the opening spiel about the middle eastern couple looking for somewhere to stay to have a baby and ending up in a fucking stable, spoke his lines perfectly only for absolutely nothing to happen. This poor lad stood there like a plank of wood terrified that now everyone was looking at him and he had nothing to say and had no idea what to do. The panic on his face created a suspense that drew in the whole room.
A quick glance to the other side of the room saw a group of teachers frantically trying to get the CD player to work (only to not notice that they had the damn thing stuck on pause). I wasn’t completely surprised to notice one of the teaching assistants that was there helping out was someone who myself and my other half had bumped into only two nights previously drunk out of her mind in a nightclub. But as I’d agreed to say nothing, I stuck to that deal so her identity remains classified for now. Just as the little lad was about to burst into tears with the stress of not being able to stop every fucker in the room staring at him like it was his fault. The music started mid song and out sang every child. Some sang the wrong lines in the wrong place, somewhere out of key but it was such a relief that I swear I felt a pressure change in the room.
I’ll spare you the script as I’ve no doubt even the most stupid already have heard a version of it. A middle eastern couple try to find somewhere to stay, she’s highly visibly pregnant (with what they say is the son of god…not a line I’d use to try and get a room ...but that’s just me). Everyone tells this strange couple to fuck the fuckidy fuck off and make them sleep in a stable with a load of filthy fucking animals. Something they are then supposed to be glad about. In fact the story treats it like this is an amazing act of charity when it reality it’s all a bit seedy. Somehow a field full of guys allegedly ‘looking after sheep’ hear about this pregnant woman and walk off to find this small venerable child. One of these guys may nor may not have been Jimmy Saville and one may or may not have been Bill Crosby. Then up trot some mystic types that obviously are recruiting for a cult with some dodgy gifts that would make most people rather worried if they were reduced to giving birth in a stable full of horse shit.
They usually cut out the bit about a king murdering a shit load of babies out and cut the play just before that bit as it could put a bit of a dampener on the whole festive spirit.
The school had recently had an infestation of head lice, what I found interesting is that although no parents admitted to their child having them there had been a sudden surge in men with newly shaven heads accompanied by wives or girlfriends with slicked back hair. As my eyes wandered around the room I started overhearing the usual parents who were not impressed that their little Johnny (who quite obviously was the next big thing in acting) only got to say three words. Then I heard the ones bitching about why their favourite Christmas songs weren't in the play. But some highlights stick out more than others.
oOne child, a blonde girl had been dressed like a huge silver star. A baby in the audience with its mother (I assume it was its mother but it could have easily have been a very stupid person baby napping a small child) took one look at this huge silver star with blonde hair, bare flat feet and huge hands and screamed blue fucking murder! It was convinced that this Silver Star person had come to eat its soul and obviously wanted to get the hell out of Dodge City ASAP. So queue lots of chair scraping as the mother (or was it??) took the poor terrified child out into the corridor and no doubt gave it a damn good talking to.
The second was the child I shall nickname ‘thumbs’ as he spent the entire time he was on stage (a not inconsiderable time as it happens) with one thumb aloft like a bastard child of the Fonz and the logo form the Fallout computer games.
Just when everyone thought it was all thankfully over, then occurred the highly of it all, when one of the little darlings dressed as a villager decided that what the audience really needed at exactly that point was to see his fucking awesome Spiderman boxer shorts! God damn it he would make sure that no one missed out on that opportunity! So he then proceeded to lift his villagers costume up above his head and flash the entire audience for 5 whole minutes with no adult intervention. The screams of ‘weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!’ may have been a bit off putting to some I imagine.
So there goes a cautionary tail of why school Christmas plays are never boring and why its always worth doing your best to attend for the sake of your child, certainly, but also for the sake of all the awesome bar stories you will then have for the coming nights out over the festive period.