This is the time of year when, as school ends, Christmas concerts, nativity plays, pantomimes and other celebrations take place almost everywhere. Not so this year, although I’m sure the staff of most schools have tried their absolute utmost to make sure their pupils – or students as they are now called whatever their age, have a happy end of term.
My first experience of a Christmas school performance was a nativity play when I would have been about six, maybe younger. Like all the girls I was desperate to be Mary, instead my best friend Anna was chosen, probably wisely, she was a very lovely Mary! Maybe I could be the angel who came bringing tidings of great joy? No that went to someone else, it may have been Elizabeth. The three kings had to be boys in those days,, as did the shepherds, so I became an angel. We had no costumes that I remember, although Mary/Ann may have had a blue head scarf and the shepherds may have had tea towels on their heads and the kings paper crowns. I along with the other angels, had to stand at the side with my arms in the air – my arms being the wings. I remember standing there miserably with my tired arms drooping – no doubt the same as all the other angels. We sang all the well known carols that little children might know, and I wonder now whether my mum felt sorry for me or was sympathetically amused by my disconsolate face and droopy ‘wings’. I know from a very early age I loved the idea of acting and would have tried my best to look like an adoring angel, but disappointment and resignation must have taken over from any attempts at being angelic.
I can’t remember being involved in any other Christmas event except there was a performance of some fairy tale, maybe Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, something along those lines. Once again I was not chosen to be anything important, but had to be a ‘lady’ of the court, along with all the other unchosen girls, and boys who were lords. There was a ball and i had to dance with my friend John. We clasped each other somehow, probably with both hands on the other’s shoulders, and galumphed about as a record of music was played on a gramophone. I found out later that mum and John’s mum were almost convulsed with laughter at the sight of their chubby offspring, staggering about desperately trying to be a lord and lady.
I think school performances are probably a little more sophisticated and polished now, even at the most junior level, but would they be as entertaining for the proud parents, as me with my drooping wings, and John and me dancing? I wonder if John remembers?