January is the longest month

28th January 2005 at 00:00
Two weeks is not enough. After a term filled with Christmas concerts, Christmas dinners, Christmas discos, Christmas bazaars and Christmas trips, you have to do it again with your loved ones, summoning up enthusiasm for an event that has consumed you since mid September.

I am a primary school music co-ordinator, and my feelings will be familiar to anyone in my position. Just as the summer sun starts to dim and the leaves turn brown, we start to think about the Christmas concert. It is September and already Michael Bolton's Christmas CD is a prominent feature on the sound system. This concert has to top the last one, be bigger, better, raise more money and attract more parents. Before you know it, you have ludicrous visions of an epic West End musical.

It is not uncommon for a music co-ordinator to be heard singing festive Slade numbers at the start of October. It amazes me that people are shocked to see Argos adorned with baubles eight weeks before Christmas. We beat them every time.

Each year we try to think of new ways to use tea towels, dressing gowns and miles of tinsel. You try assembling several dozen children on a tiny stage, keeping them still, making them sing loud and look cute, while they bang triangles and tambourines.

All reason can leave you. The slightest deviation from my stage directions can send me into a silent rage. I think: "You don't know how hard it is to put on a concert, do you?" Or the child who deliberately whispers his lines while I stand near the back holding my ears and looking as if I am directing traffic will have me inwardly fuming: "You cannot be nervous Billy, there is no one here. You wanted this part; now shout!" Come the big day, the other teachers sit there smiling while we, the gifted and talented, plinkety-plink and multi-task for the entertainment of parents, grandparents, governors, councillors and everyone else.

Then your headteacher says: "That was lovely," in a way that implies: "It surely wasn't that much effort, was it?' You gaze around the hall and see a million children glaring at you, daring you to make them sing "When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney" one more time.

Then it's the holiday. You still have to be festive when you're thinking you might assault someone if you hear the words, stable, Bethlehem or angel one more time.

Then January arrives - a month of trying to survive on your December salary, while trying to pay for Christmas. It's exhausting. The point I am trying to make is this: give music co-ordinators an extra week off. We deserve it. After all, it won't be long before we have to start thinking about the summer concert.

Robin Warren teaches Year 6 and is music co-ordinator at a north London primary school

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