Wednesday, 24 December 2008

My religious education must have been lacking...

I haven't blogged recently. Despite not rowing (and instead recovering, trying to avoid being sent to Swindon next year, trying to recruit anyone vaguely suitable for work, and trying to bolster my chances of receiving, and the size of, a xmas bonus, and enjoying a new relationship), I've been busier than usual...

I'll 'fess up now to having a GCSE in Religious Studies. I got a B.  The teachers were so shocked at this under-achievement that they sent my paper back to be re-marked.

I still got a B.

It turns out my understanding of religion wasn't that fab. (This was about 14 years ago, and I'm confident I've learned nothing of religion since.)

It was therefore with some surprise that I found myself elected at a recent dinner party to perform a nativity play using only the stuffed toys normally reserved for the hostess' dogs.

Disclaimer: Any offence caused by the following hazy recollections is entirely unintentional and purely the result of drunkeness, ignorance and my heathen, communist, comprehensive education.

So, with the cameras rolling (I'm assuming this debacle will find itself onto Youtube at some point...), I set to work. Casting Jesus was easy. He was an infant during the nativity. (There are no flies on me. Jesus probably had a few, though, being born in a stable and surrounded by donkey dung.) The only juvenile stuffed toy available was a tiger. Ergo, Jesus was cast.

Mary and Joseph were similarly simple. I had available a small stuffed goose and a penguin of similar size. These being the only toys with the same number of legs as Mary and Joseph, I popped them in place behind the tiger. They looked proud parents. The penguin was Joseph. Audience members with poor eyesight could almost be persuaded that our Pingu was in fact Joe in a dinner jacket.

There was also a cow. I was more or less convinced that there were no cows at the nativity, but given that a tiger, goose and penguin were already in place, the cow played the part of a donkey.

I had a bit of difficulty with casting the lion, but then remembered that somewhere in the dusty religious tomes a lion lies down with a lamb and this is a good thing. We didn't have a lamb at our disposal, but did have an enormous stuffed sheep. The only difficulty to be resolved arose from the relative sizes of the lion and the sheep, so I put the lion on top and they spent the evening merrily lying down together.

We were still short of a few wise men. Fortunately other guests had been roaming the flat and had uncovered four plastic fish. These were offered to 'stand' in for the wise men (and reconciled to the original story as being freshly arrived leftovers from the feeding of the five thousand), though sadly they each had a pair of legs too few compared to the wise men in the story, but they did manage to turn up suitably late to the party. (The wise men did turn up late, didn't they?)

The fourth fish was given the part of a shepherd - somewhere in the dilute, alcoholic haze, I'd forgotten to cast that role.

The nativity scene was now in top gear with a full complement of players. More animals appeared out of the woodwork (or got hunted down and given to me by other guests so that I could apply my own particular brand of religious understanding to them). An ebony rhino and elephant dropped into the scene - I figured they were probably taking a holiday from the Garden of Eden and ad swung by the stable to find out what all the fuss was about and report back. A Chinese dragon then appeared. This was a little harder to rationalise - I initially thought it was there to add a bit of cultural diversity and prevent the scene from looking a bit too WASP*-ish, but on closer inspection, the fish representing Balthasar had forgotten to bring his myrrh. Remembering that the wise chaps had come from the East, I realised that the dragon was a replacement gift acquired during Bally's recent package holiday to China.

It was at about this time that my strategically-acquired glass of water was replaced by a glass of wine - another miracle represented and proof, if it were needed, that the gods were indeed smiling on our interpretation of the nativity.

Sadly, by the time the pièce de résistance Dancing Macarena Gorrilla arrived, all parts had been cast and it had to macarena to itself beyond the pale of the nativity scene...

Culturally-sensitive, diversity-embracing, festively, seasonally good wishes to you all

*White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Because, as we all know, all attendees at the nativity were WASPs...