You can’t beat the nativity for laughs

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If there’s one way to reduce a man to tears, it’s to dress his daughter up in a giant cape, see her get on stage and let rip to some old classics.

I’m not quite sure where she’s picked it up from but Molly loves being on the stage.

At a recent Christmas light switch-on for Heart she asked me to speak a little less to give her more stage time.

She’s six. Diva is a word that has been mentioned by a few honest friends.

‘Tis the season for nativity and this has thrown up a golden opportunity for Mol to get up on stage and express herself.

It’s a cracking time of year and you’d have to have the heart of Jeremy Clarkson not to feel a lump in your throat as children barely able to use the toilet haul themselves up on stage and give it their starry-eyed best.

Like me, you’ll remember the day when eight kids from 300 would be chosen to perform.

The rest of us would sit cross-legged on a cold parquet floor looking on. Or, if you were really lucky, you’d be handed a plastic bottle half-full of lentils to join in with a musical interlude.

Teachers are a lot more thoughtful these days and try to involve as many children as possible by weaving imaginative story lines that turn the already impressive into something quite outrageous.

This year, Molly played a wise man – one of 30. Last year she was a little star – one of 30.

I don’t think she really cared who she was playing as long as she was on stage and offering some form of performance.

Other aspects of the nativity play that have changed include the technology.

The creative director (probably a keen PE teacher) now controls the vast array of radio microphones, directs the performers and conducts the live musicians.

At our school, the headboy knocked two coconut shells together as others dragged a broom around the floor with a donkey’s face stuck on it.

Some traditions remain though. There will always be one child who is a little overwhelmed, another whose next stop should be the West End and another who is quite happy having a good old dig up their schnozz – even with 250 people looking on.

The army of proud parents are on standby, cameras at the ready – like the paparazzi outside a salubrious London night club.

All of us are hoping to capture that golden moment when our darling child looks around forlornly, forgetting the words to Three Wise Men in a Time Machine.

Or the moment they fall asleep and slide off the stage, landing on their rumps looking startled. Come on, that’s worth £250 on TV.