Dom Joly: Away in a manger, the bear boiled his head...

Related Topics

It's nativity play time again. My son Jackson has been given the coveted role of third innkeeper. He claimed to have been offered a much bigger solo part but that he turned it down. He said that he didn't really "feel like it". He is four years old – God help us eight years from now. He's certainly a very different character from his older sister, Parker, who four years ago announced to us all that she had the role of Mary. We were thrilled and showed off to everyone until it turned out that she was lying and had simply refused to accept that she didn't have the lead role. "Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington." Well, Mrs Worthington might have been persuaded to put a stop to her daughter's thespian tendencies but there's no way that young Miss Joly is going to be deterred from treading the boards.

We turned up for Jackson's big day. There was not a tea towel to be had for miles around and we sat behind a wall of video cameras. To the rear of the stage was an unlucky group who had been dressed up as the animals in the manger. For some reason there was a bear and a very unhappy one at that.

I have quite some experience in the wearing of furry costumes and I can attest that a bear suit under stage lights is like a sumo wrestler in a pressure cooker.

Try as I might to watch my son I kept being distracted by the sight of the boiling bear. His face was visible and was getting redder and redder. I could swear that actual steam was coming off him and he started to sway a bit. Then the bear burst into tears and was withdrawn from the manger and cuddled behind the crib. Shortly afterwards a sheep tripped up on a small bit of wood and disappeared off the stage. This was a health and safety nightmare. I presume the Fun Police will close it down next year.

Back on stage, Joseph and Mary were coming to the end of their epic search for a Comfort Inn. The third innkeeper was approached. "Do you have a bed?" asked a weary Joseph. "NO!! CLEAR OFF!!" That's what I was secretly hoping that my boy would say. Actually he shouted, "NO!! BUT WE DO HAVE A STABLE IN THE BACK!!"

I have tried to teach him the art of projection, and it seems that I might have a modicum of talent in that area. Joseph seemed rather startled by the volume of the offer of a stable for the night but accepted it with good grace. He and Mary slunk off for a smelly and uncomfortable night plagued by unwelcome visitors bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Interestingly I now know what the last two are. I travelled to Oman last year to spend a week in the Empty Quarter, one of the most inhospitable pieces of land in the world, but a truly beautiful place. The southern coast of Oman used to be the world's best source of frankincense, an aromatic resin used in incense. I visited the ruins of the port of Ubar that used to be the epicentre of this lucrative trade. Then, last week I was recording my Radio Five Live Christmas day special and invited a man on who'd written a book called What is Myrrh Anyway? It turns out to be an "embalming ointment".

So basically the three kings brought a nice gold thing and a couple of token smelly things that nobody really wanted. I'm surprised they didn't bring some wackily-patterned socks along as well.

Back at the nativity play and things drew to a close. The tea towel army trooped out back to their classes and the bear was carried gently towards the sanatorium. Job done for another year.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific