“You’re coming to a party tonight” These were the opening words from Saskia when I picked up the phone to her this morning. I nearly answered “no I’m not, I plan to veg out on the sofa and watch Holby City” but I didn’t – she thinks I watch too much television. It appears that Saskia’s step-mother is holding a candle party at her abode ce soir and numbers aren’t what they should be. “Apparently, it’s very important, socially, for this party to be a sell-out – the people that run the company were dubious at descending on Forest Hill in the first place – if there’s not enough people then Susan will just die.” Saskia doesn’t get on with her step-mother – she calls her Cruella – so her sudden keenness to do her a good turn was a little out of the ordinary. “Oh, okay, it’s for Dad really, she’ll make his life a misery if tonight is a disaster”. Now that makes more sense.
I’ve reluctantly said I’d come along and have taken Saskia’s plea of “bring lots of people” literally. Marjorie said yes before I’d even told her what they were selling at this party, Lydia agreed to come, Bea said she’d “look in on the way back from Weight Watchers”, Jane Opposite “likes a good candle” and said she’d follow us there and agreed to bring Ruby Over the Road as well.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can turn my attention to the letter Mac came home with yesterday – apparently he’s landed the role of sheep in the forthcoming nursery Nativity play. I’ve reproduced the letter below because I didn’t like its tone and am simmering gently.
Dear Mrs Mitchell
I am pleased to advise you that we will once more be producing the Nativity play this year. This is planned for Thursday 13 December at 4pm - further details will be sent out separately, but you may also see posters on the Parent Noticeboard in Main Reception. I would like to reiterate that all photography (still and video) is FORBIDDEN. Official photographs will be taken for you to buy (£15 for any four), and the production will be available for you to purchase on DVD at the very reasonable price of £11.99. All profits will go towards the design, building and maintenance of our garden project.
Your child Mackenzie has been chosen to play the integral part of sheep one and will require a costume. Last year we felt that the amount of professionally hired costumes did not reflect the true meaning of the Nativity. Therefore, we are asking that all costumes are home-made. Miss Patterson, one of our playground helpers, is in charge of Costume and will be pleased to advise you on this matter. Parents/Guardians are reminded that the children should have some “artistic” input in the costume as we want to encourage their sense of ownership of the play.
Volunteers are also required to help out at the performance – we have a number of roles for those who are able to help us out. We note from our records that last year you helped out with seating the audience and we would be very grateful if you were able to do the same this year. We have made a note of this and will keep you on the list unless we hear differently.
Children will be required to attend rehearsals after school times, including one full dress rehearsal two days before the performance. Parents/Guardians are asked to ensure that children are provided with a light snack on these days, in a named box/bag. We are asking that no fast food, crisps, cakes and biscuits be provided and that parents ensure that all contributions are left with the class teacher on the morning of the rehearsal.
If you have any queries or concerns, please do let me know.
I am simmering for a number of reasons.
The profit from the last Nativity play (when photos were four for £10) went towards the “design, building and maintenance of the garden project”. The garden project that is still a muddy, empty wasteground.
Mac was a donkey last year and was fortunate enough to be able to borrow Bottom’s head because Bea’s am-dram production of A Midsummer Nights Dream didn’t get off the ground (a lack of fairies apparently). That was nothing – Mary was dressed in a Next blue smock and baby Jesus was wrapped in a Harrods blanket. I suspect Ruby Over the Road will be called upon to make a sheep costume, unless I lash my IKEA sheepskin rug to the poor child.
Last year I was press-ganged into helping out with the audience by dint of the fact that I was not yet seated next to David when the mad rush started, with parents and grandparents risking life, limb and sanity to all get into the first row. I had to step in to prevent carnage. It was then, in my new role, that I was asked to relieve the parents of Archie Phillips of their camera equipment and was verbally abused in a very unfestive manner. I shall of course be advising Miss Biddulph that my only contribution on the night will be that of “member of audience”.
There were three rehearsals last year, including the dress rehearsal. Mac attended all of them but, as his first “named boxed snack” was stolen by a marauding hungry child who didn’t have one and his second was mistaken for Miss Percival’s own goodie box, I appeared like an avenging angel at the dress rehearsal with an M&S sandwich (he adores the simply chicken one), a packet of Ringos and a carton of ribena. Not so much a “named, boxed” snack as a personal bloody angry one. The staff kept shooting me looks and my name was mud in the staff room for the whole of January.
But still. Mac is very excited about playing a sheep and I’m excited for him. I appeared in a few Nativities when I was at school: I was an angel in my first one, a shepherd in the next and I was also a Mexican passerby in the year when we attempted the World Nativity. It was disastrous – we had representatives from every nation on that stage, all popping by to say hello to the baby Jesus. I remember that Mary got bored and fell asleep, the French peasant trod on one of the Italian goats who burst into tears and my mum found the whole thing hilarious rather than moving. I had borrowed my uncle’s sombrero for my part and, during the hymn singing when I was sitting in my class row, I obscured the view of half of the first year.
So. I’d best get cracking on the costume. Actually, I think I could make the IKEA sheepskin rug idea work…….