Soundbite

6th February 1998 at 00:00
At the end of my visit to a Roman Catholic primary school in theYorkshire Dales I met Dominic, a freckled infant with spiky ginger hair. I agreed to narrate the Christmas story before leaving but never quite reached the end.

"It was cold and dark that December night many years ago and on the hillside, where the icy winds whistled through the dark trees ..."

"I can whistle," said Dominic puckering up his lips.

"And the grass was frosted and stiff with cold ..."

"Do you want to hear me whistle?"

"Not now I don't," I said. I continued. "Matthew, the little shepherd boy, huddled in a dry hollow with his sheep to keep warm. The cold winter wind blew about his ears and high above him the dark sky was studded with millions of tiny silver stars I" "Miss Smith gives you a star if you do good work," said Dominic.

"It wasn't that sort of star," I said. "These were like tiny diamonds sparkling in the darkness. This was the night that a very special baby was to be born."

"Jesus."

"That's right, it was Jesus."

"I've heard this story already!" said Dominic. "I know what happens."

"We all know what happens, Dominic. We are going to hear what happens again."

"Why?"

"Because we are. Now very soon a very special baby would be born and his name, as Dominic has already told us, would be Jesus."

"Was he induced?" asked Dominic.

"Pardon?"

"Was he induced?"

"No, he wasn't induced."

"I was induced."

"Well, Baby Jesus wasn't."

"How do you know?"

"Well, I know because it was a long, long time ago and they didn't induce babies then."

"Why?"

"Just listen to the story, Dominic."

"But I know what happens."

At this point a child with the face of an angel raised her hand. "What does seduced mean."

"Oh dear," I sighed. "I will tell you another time - when you are older. "

"Can I finish off the story about Baby Jesus?" asked Dominic eagerly. "I know what happens."

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