In my first role in a nativity play, I played a triangle. Not literally, it wasn’t a nativity play with a ‘geometric shape theme.’ Jesus wasn’t a rhombus.
I held the tiny metal instrument and diligently dinged it at the change of every scene.
There wasn’t any musicians at the birth of Jesus (but strangely, there was moo-sick when a cow threw up) but, because the nativity storyline has few main characters and I was in a school class of 39 children, peripheral roles had to be rapidly invented by teachers to keep all attending parents happy.
I’m sure my dad went into work the following day and proudly announced: ‘My lad played the guy who played the triangle in the nativity.’
My second appearance was as a shepherd, which was fine, until my friend – also a shepherd – got physically sick with stage fright just before showtime.
In a panic and with no suitably dressed replacement and no quick re-write, the teacher threw me onto the stage saying I’d have to read the lines of both shepherds as I knew the dialogue between us both.
So, I walked on stage and started talking to myself, saying things like: ‘We must go to Bethlehem to find the son of God.’ ‘But I don’t know the way.’ ‘Don’t worry, follow me.’ ‘Okay, I will.’
It was an utter shambles and the audience probably thought the intense heat from the stage lights had got to me and sent me delirious.
In my final school nativity, I was given the role of the innkeeper. Mary and Joseph knocked on my door (a sound enhanced by a random glockenspiel player) and I’m sure I had to say: ‘I’m sorry there’s no room at the inn, we’re fully booked. After all, it is Christmas. What the hell were you thinking?’
I then sent them across the stage to the ironically, equally overcrowded stable where 17 pupils were dressed as barnyard animals.
Their parents must have been very proud.
Merry Christmas one and all.