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Birth of unease

From Alan Millard

"They're little charmers and the performance is always a winner, whatever happens" writes Luke Arlington (Thank God it's Friday, TES, December 13). Those were my sentiments, too, as I sat on a hard chair in the infant school hall at this year's Nativity play, completely captivated by the whole heavenly host and, in particular, by the one special five-year-old angel in the back row whose proud grin and "see-me" wave was my main reason for being there.

It was only when I looked around at the rest of the audience who, like me, were all doe-eyed and soppy-faced that I began to feel just a little uneasy and wondered what it was all about.

As a teacher I had always questioned the value of the annual Nativity and had wondered if it was nothing more than a sop to the parents - a parrot-like performance for their cameras and camcorders which was meaningless to the children who could hardly pronounce the Biblical phrases or begin to understand the virgin birth. And here I was, retired from teaching but still perpetuating the tradition simply by being there. Was it right? It was only after the final bows when that special angel in the back row smiled with all the wickedness which only an angel could muster that I finally decided it was.

ALAN MILLARD 8 Medina Court, Marine Parade West, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire.

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