For those with children – it’s that time of year again. Off you trot to the school hall, breathing in the curiously familiar smell of disinfectant and piss (or maybe that was just my old school) and sit down to watch The Nativity Play at 9.30am in all its comforting familiarity. The most popular boy gets to play Joseph and the cutest girl (or the one who has the scariest mother in the PTA)is Mary. But all this has changed. No longer do the most prized parts go to the future little Masters of the Universe while everyone else with their shy, spotty, incontinent offspring have to contend with being Third Shepherd on the Left. They all gather onstage, sometimes having to be prodded by an exhausted teacher. One of the shepherds cries loudly or wets himself. Then they all shout: “Behold a Star!” and point upwards in different directions like actors in bad sci-fi films pointing vaguely at a spaceship. I was too speccy to be Mary, and instead had to contend with being the Angel Gabriel. I clambered onstage wearing a cut-out sheet, minus my specs, shouted “I am sent from God” and fell off the stage. “Sent from the pub more like!” shouted a parent. I was only six!
Anyway, all that has changed, according to the Telegraph. It’s the shy kids who get the best parts, not those annoying confident ones. One parent argues that the whole point of a nativity play is children weeing and crying and doing everything wrong, not a load of irritating acting prodigies. Quite right too.
My daughter’s school, instead of a traditional nativity, put on a show called The Smallest Angel. It was fab! Loads of children forgetting their lines, singing Away in a Manger off key, and in one memorable moment, Mary dropped Baby Jesus and said: “Oh shit.” But like all parents I only had eyes for The Girl who kept waving at me. “That’s my mummy” she shrieked to the small boy next to her. “No – that’s my mummy” said the boy. They kept this up throughout the entire show. She’s such a little scene stealer . . . .