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The school Nativity – will it cast a shadow on your life?

PUBLISHED: 10:10 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:30 18 December 2017

Do you see Orpah in the stable?  Picture: SOMOR/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Do you see Orpah in the stable? Picture: SOMOR/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO



Such was the demand for audience places at the 
school Nativity that I missed seeing George make his theatrical public debut. He has been known to be quite dramatic in private.

I am sure he was a brilliant donkey − he had a line: “Eee-aw” and I’m hoping his daddy managed to record this utterance for posterity. Meanwhile, at nursery, little Wil was a shepherd which prompted an All Points Bulletin for a stripey tea chloth.

I only once made it into the school nativity... was I Mary? An Angel, maybe?

No, I was Orpah (who she? ED). It was an acting role although I think I had only a few words. If you are not acquainted with Orpah, she was the Biblical daughter-in-law whose loyalty did not shine out when asked if she would turn her back on the fleshpots of Moab and stay with Naomi and Ruth to lead a monotheistic life. So the three of us stood at a crossroads and while Ruth got the really good speech: “... whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” I was more of a: “Bye, then... I’ll be going, shall I? Cheerio...”

I think our Nativity must have started with brief resumé of the Old Testament. Goodness knows how long it lasted.

Anyway, my mum was proud of my performance although I have rarely thought about the fate of Orpah. But, spurred on by my grandsons’ Christmas theatricals, I decided, finally, to find out what happened to me... Orpah. According to a website, I married again, this time to an Eminem.

This was confusing... so Orpah married a rapper? No. Eminems were giants and there were a lot of them in Moab, apparently. Anyway she went on to have four very big sons, one of whom was Goliath. Yes, that’s the hulking great fellow who was felled with a stone from David’s slingshot.

I suddenly realised what my primary school did by following the story of Ruth and Naomi rather than Orpah. It missed an opportunity for an action anti-hero sequence – groundbreaking in 1963.

There ended my brief dalliance with the school Nativity. I was never cast again and the only time I was, I got to play someone that no one had ever heard of. I think it may have scarred me.

My husband, the hurt showing in his face, revealed he had never been cast in a school Nativity.

I hope my grandsons use this year as a springboard to greater roles; that Wil will go on to one day be cast against type − as an angel − and that George will get the chance to be a dinosaur by the crib rather than a donkey.

My cousin Jilly’s son, Nicholas, played the inn-keeper in his primary school Nativity, many years ago. After the performance he expressed his outrage. “I’m not going to let this happen again. Next time, they’re getting a room,” he said darkly, after having been directed to put Mary and Joseph in the stable.

When my son, Mark, was at nursery school as a reluctant member of the Nativity choir, Joseph swung the doll playing Jesus around so violently that its head fell off and Mary, extremely annoyed, pulled the headless doll away from him and hurled it into the manger. Meanwhile several members of the heavenly host spotted their mums and dads in the audience and deserted the play to go and join them.

No, you can’t beat a Nativity play for getting you into the Christmas spirit.

Every so often, it’s nice to dress up for an evening out but it works a bit differently these days. I wore my new black and white dress that makes me look slimmer than I am with a front-panel trompe l’oeil effect. I wore red lipstick, black tights.

“Lovely, Lynne,” said my husband (when I asked how I looked) but that was before I completed the outfit with a pair of sensible, flat shoes and my new woolly bobble hat. Sometimes staying warm trumps being chic.

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