Years ago, a primary school teacher friend, working in one of the less fashionable areas of Birkenhead had with the rest of the school staff tried really hard for a snag-free Nativity play. Rehearsals had gone well. Scenery had stood up. Then two days before the event, the mother of “Joseph” played by a child who today would be described as “challenging” rang to say that Joseph had a streaming cold and wouldn’t be coming into school.
All hands thought this a pity because the kid in question hadn’t hurt anybody during rehearsals and obviously enjoyed performing. There was a sigh of relief nonetheless and the Innkeeper was promoted to Joseph whilst a lamb became the licensee. However, on the afternoon of the performance the original Joseph and his mum turned up at school, mum explaining, “‘E’s gutted ‘es goin’ to miss it. I can’t do nothin’ wid him. Can ‘e still ‘ave ‘is part?”
Hurried negotiations took place and against all the odds the original and now quite snotty Joseph agreed to become the inkeeper, kindly allowing the original inkeeper to retain his promotion. The lamb returned to the fold without demur. Staff were amazed. Original Joseph, quite apart from being challenging, was normally a right little ratbag and this generosity of spirit was very encouraging.
That evening, the school hall was packed. The school orchestra murdered Away in a Manger, the curtains opened and the tableau came to life.
The familiar tale unfolded and new Joseph and long-suffering Mary (a large plain child called Roxanne) approached the inn door.
“What do you want?” asked ex–Joseph.
“We’d like to come in,” answered new Joseph.
“Well you can’t” shouted ex- Joseph, “You can fuck off ‘cos you got my part!”, burst into tears and left the stage, over the front, and went and sat with his devastated Mum.
Revenge is sweet.
By Bill Stott (and he drew the picture).