A terrible event had occurred in Tamara’s otherwise perfect life. And it was causing her an enormous amount of angst. As she sat waiting outside the headteacher’s office, she realised that most things were suddenly meaningless: her new limited edition Ugg boots, her husband’s £35,000 Christmas bonus and her new £2,000 double range oven. All of it meant nothing. Even the latest Boden catalogue which had arrived in the post that morning had failed to lift her spirits.
The headteacher, Mrs McCarthy, tried hard to mask her lack of enthusiasm as she asked Tamara to come into her office. Tamara was a regular visitor. Mrs McCarthy did her best to forget about all the useful things she could otherwise be doing that morning, fixed a smile on her face and asked what the problem was.
“I received a note yesterday in Barnabas’s book bag informing me that he would be a lamb in the school nativity play,”
“And can I ask what the issue is?”
“Well he’s not even a sheep! He’s just a lamb,”
“Would you like him to be a sheep?”
“No, not at all. I would like him to be Joseph.”
Mrs McCarthy glanced at her watch and tried to compose a serious and brief reply,
“With all due respect Mrs Peregrine-Thwite, the main roles in the school’s nativity play are usually given to the older children,”
“Barnabas is old for his age!”
“Well he may be, but let’s remember he is only four,”
“The school nativity is hardly the RSC Mrs McCarthy, I think Barnabas would be more than able to take on the role of Joseph.”
Mrs McCarthy suddenly felt tired and in need of reinforcement. She asked the school secretary to find Mrs Bleeton, the writer and director of the school nativity.
A few moments later Mrs Bleeton sat herself in the headteacher’s office. She didn’t warm to Tamara but she did like her nice new limited edition Ugg boots. For a moment she fancied she might be on the street with Tamara when Tamara was suddenly hit by a bus allowing Mrs Bleeton to then rush in and quickly steal her Ugg boots from her feet while she was lying in the road and everyone else was distracted by the accident. Mrs Bleeton then spent a moment worrying about whether this was a thought which a normal, healthy mind should have.
“Mrs Bleeton, are you the casting director for the school nativity play?” asked Tamara,
“Well, erm, I’m organising the whole thing really so, er, yes,”
“Can I ask why Barnabas isn’t Joseph?”
“I can tell you that the boy we have casted as Joseph started off as a lamb,”
“Did he really?”
“Yes he worked his way up. The first year he was a lamb, then he was a shepherd. The year after that he was Melchior. He’s one of the Three Kings by the way,”
“I knew that,”
“Good. And now this year we’re delighted that he’ll be in the role of Joseph and he is already doing excellently in rehearsal,”
“Is he indeed.”
Mrs McCarthy thought Mrs Bleeton was making good progress with Tamara. Now all she needed to do was get her out of her office so she could get on with important work such as deciding the new colour of the school’s PE kit.
“So you see, Mrs Peregrine-Thwite, we encourage children to earn their stripes when it comes to casting starring roles. We wouldn’t want to just simply give away the big roles, that doesn’t encourage children to aim and strive for goals does it?”
“How much?” Tamara’s voice was lowered.
“How much do you need for Barnabas to be Joseph?” Tamara dug around in her orange designer handbag, “Actually I don’t think I’ve got my cheque book on me. Do you take American Express?”
“This is getting embarrassing Mrs Peregrine-Thwite, we don’t accept payment in return for a role in the school nativity play. It’s simply not school policy. Although I should add the School Council is always happy to accept donations for fundraising purposes, not in return for any favours though you understand,”
“Fine.” Tamara slammed her orange bag down on the floor.
“Can Barnabas have some lines?”
“Can he remember lines?”
“What can a lamb say in the school nativity play?”
“Well I don’t know. Will the animals be talking ones?”
“No,” said Mrs Bleeton, “Definitely not,”
“Well maybe he could say ‘baa’,”
“Mrs Bleeton, do you think Barnabas would be able to say ‘baa’?”
“I could write it into the script I suppose,”
“Can we make it ‘baa baa baa’? Just in case the audience misses the first ‘baa’,”
“Fine. But no more than three baas otherwise the play will run over its twenty minute time,”
Tamara grasped her orange handbag, stood up and joyfully flicked her Cath Kidston scarf over her shoulder. Mrs McCarthy and Mrs Bleeton watched her cautiously: both hopeful the meeting was over but nervous that there might be something else to deal with.
But there was nothing else.
“Thank you so much for your time ladies. I really am very grateful to you for listening to my concerns about Barnabas.” They smiled weakly at her.
Tamara strode out of the headteacher’s office pleased with her accomplishment. She hadn’t managed to get Barnabas the Joseph role, but she had managed to get him a speaking role in the most important school performance of the year. Her quest to carve out a route to Oxbridge for him had begun.