I was particulary excited about Betty being cast as Mary in the pre-school nativity play, mainly for the reasons mentioned in my last post, but also because when I was a child, I only ever played the part of an Olive Tree, or some other static, non-talking object.
The weeks following the news that Betty was to play Mary, I obsessed over what colour and style Mary's head-dress would have been. I trawled through google images and finally settled on the right shade of blue. I fashioned a tunic out of an old sheet, hacked up an old blue pillowcase, and got Betty to try it all on. She remarked that she looked like a nurse, and Tom remaked that she looked like a nun. I rectified this by re-styling the head-dress, and subsequently cutting up an old fake pashmina hanging up in my wardrobe.
On the morning of Betty's nativity my stomach was in knots and I couldn't eat. I tried my damnedness not to let my nerves show in front of Betty, but she is an astute little lady, and after breakfast, as cool as a cucumber, summoned me to the sitting room. She calmly told me to sit next to her on the sofa, stroked my arm, whilst soothingly telling me the nativity story, asking me questions every so often to check I was listening: 'What were the colour of Joseph's shoes?' or 'How many donkeys were there in Bethlehem?' 'Shall we practice your lines?' I asked her. 'No Mummy' she said
We arrived at the village hall half an hour early. It was one of the longest half hours of my life - it felt like I was waiting for a really important job interview. Betty said: 'Don't worry Mummy' before breezing off to join the rest of the cast on stage.
The play began and Mary and Joseph belted out their two duets whilst having a bit of a fight over who was going to cuddle baby Jesus. And the shepherds were having an inpromptu hay fight behind them. Meanwhile Tom was chasing a wayward Dolly around the hall, and I was taking photos with a suddenly very loud camera (I am sure I saw Betty shaking her head at me at one point).
Once the (fantastic) performance had finished all the children rejoined their parents. Betty came towards me excitedly wielding a chocolate bar. 'You were brilliant my darling, well done, how do you feel?!' I said. But as far as Betty was concerned the play was now done and dusted, and all she wanted to talk about was this blimin bar of chocolate she had been given by her teacher.