The pre-school Christmas carol concert is upon us. We duly arrive at nursery and pass on a tiny chair to sit on, choosing to stand at the back instead. I have learned to my cost never to trust the load-bearing capabilities of a chair that is roughly the size of one buttock cheek.
First, the elves are led in, those worker bees of the Yuletide season who largely overshadowed by the more glamorous angels or the more antlered reindeer. E is an elf. He scans the audience, looking for us, and we wave enthusiastically. It is at this moment that I realise I have somewhat under-estimated the whole fancy dress thing. It’s not like at an adult fancy dress party, where two or three idiots go the whole hog with their attire whilst the rest of us make a begrudging, half-arsed, last-minute effort which is jettisoned within ten minutes of arrival. Oh no. There are mums involved, so it is a whole lot more professional. E is in fact the only elf that is not in a proper costume. He is wearing his green jogging trousers and a green and black stripy top. I thought I was pulling all the stops out by tacking on some green felt triangles around the neck to make an elf collar. Christ, on four of them I had even sewn little bells. And to top it all, a two pound elf hat from the cheap shop. In my ignorance, I thought the boat was well and truly being pushed out. Turns out we hadn’t even left the shore. I then spot a boy amongst the Christmas tree section who has fairy lights sewn onto his tree costume, and he stands there, twinkling away, shaming the other non-illuminated tree-boys with an air of battery-powered superiority. I do note with a certain amount of relief that the boy standing next to him looks like he has just come off second best in a fight in a box of tinsel, which makes me feel marginally better about my lack of effort.
In file the reindeer, red noses already smudged across cheeks, followed by a group of Santas (a sack of Santas, perhaps?). And then the front row: a host of angels. The tallest girl stands directly in front of E, her excessively large (can I say slightly overly-ostentatious?) glittery wings doing a perfect job of totally obscuring any view of our son we had previously had. Super. Show-Off angel stands unnervingly still, with a straight back and a raised chin. I bet she knows all the bloody words. With any luck, she’ll pee herself with excitement and have to leave. The concert comprises about seven Christmas songs – mainly sung by the staff, who are all looking slightly ill-a -ease in an assortment of costumes. I am slightly disturbed by a five foot elf with great big breasts, but luckily, she kneels down out of my eye line. So the singing commences. Some of the kids join in, but E is resolutely amongst those who have obviously decided to save their voice for the final performance in two days time. At one point, during an off-key rendition of jingle bells, I think I see E’s mouth moving, but I can’t be sure.
The next time I see him, when Show-Off angel shifts her position slightly, E has his finger rammed securely up his nose and he is having a good old rootle around. That’s nice. What a shame I didn’t bring my video camera. And when I look back a few minutes later, he is still engrossed in nostril fishing. Finally, I am relieved to see that he extricates his forefinger, but only to facilitate an extra large yawn, it seems, before he plugs it back in for some renewed nasal exploration.
I can only pray that he wipes his findings on those bloody great big angel wings, just to serve her right.