There was a buzz in the playground that morning, as the school clock tick-tocked it’s way to first bell. In fairness the school’s ancient time piece only had a tick, it’s tock having long since gone, where, nobody knew but it seemed to keep time so it wasn’t replaced. However, this being Yorkshire, a strange land where folk can peel oranges in their pockets to avoid sharing, a new school clock was always going to be a remote possibility. There were secret emergency plans in place, should the tick also be lost, lanky Littlewood would act as a speaking sundial.

The unusual enthusiasm evident in the children was due to this being ‘Nativity Play’ allocation of roles day. There was much riding on today. You may find glory as Joseph or social suicide as an ‘other’. Maddie Sloan lurched into rhyme and struck a pose like a startled deer in a forest glade whenever Miss walked past, in the hope of bagging the top role as mother of Jesus. All agreed though she would have been better thanking the wise men and striking a pose like Mary mother of Jesus whenever Miss walked past.

And little Tommo Thompson, was terrified he’d be chosen to be nailed to a cross, a situation not helped by Kevin Baxter measuring him from palm to palm and announcing ‘Yep ee’ll fit gud enuf Miss an ee’s got thin ‘ands wi cud probly jus staple im t’wood’. Poor Tommo was last seen being cornered in the cloakroom by Sister Bernadette who with the aid of a copy of ‘My first Bible’ was valiantly trying to explain the difference between the nativity and the crucifixion above the noise of coat sleeves being stapled together.

Aiden, Gerard and Liam had their sights on the roles of the three wise men, sadly the irony was deemed too great and they ended up as three shepherds, which they agreed to only if they were not expected to count sheep. Liam in particular looked the part dressed in a pillow case with holes cut for his head but only his left arm and a ‘Welcome to Filey’ tea towel wrapped around his head. This caused Kev Baxter to retreat to a corner with pen and paper where he agonised over the complexities of crucifying a one armed shepherd.

The manger was a cardboard box painted brown, already filled with straw ? Then the headmaster announced that the school tortoise was missing at the very same time as Debbie Walker ran into the classroom saying one of the presents under the tree was now walking across the dinner hall ! The shepherds quickly put 2 and 2 together . But unfortunately got 5 ! so the mystery was unsolved.

Though Kev Baxter was later seen feeding lettuce to a box wrapped in snowman paper.

One problem remained however, baby Jesus ! Suggestions came thick and fast , Jill Morton thought the kitten that lived by the bins would make a good messiah. But Miss said their parents were probably not ready for the surreal scene of a furry, meeowing son of god. Peter McGovern’s idea was for Tommo to curl up in the tortoise manger.

Tommo felt this to be a safe option and preferable to crucifixion though he was puzzled as he couldn’t remember a baby at the last supper.

Then, in walked Kev Baxter pushing a pram . Without ceremony he announced to Miss,

“Eh-up Miss, wi can av ar kid f’babbi Jeezuz, but not wi swaddlin or owt “

Miss enquired of Kevin ‘ won’t your mum be worried where her baby is Kevin ?’

“Nah she’s allus loosin im “ .

On glancing up Miss locked eyes with Kev’s mum, who drawing deeply on the stub of a woodbine, gave a bored ‘5 mins’ gesture followed by a sarcastic smile.

Miss asked Jill Morton to check the bins for the kitten.

Practice next she thought while reaching for the codeine drawer.


  1. A great seasonal tale – well up in the Tyke humour stakes … and certainly more than a little of your own experience of such events in this. Brought back many memories of my own past, both as a watching parent of 3 daughters and a headteacher entrusted with the role of seeing such events went smoothly – which was a joke in itself! Cleverly done, Nigel, and a fascinating break from your usual versifying.

    Liked by 1 person

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