HUGH REILLY: Taking naivety out of nativity

I KNEW Christmas must be nigh when I spotted my first Big Issue seller wearing a Poundstretcher Santa hat.

Thankfully, there is still an innocence in primary schoolchildren which is very appealing. For one thing, they give their teacher a neatly wrapped gift. A secondary teacher handed a similar package usually has the good sense to forward it to Strathclyde Police for disposal.

It can be sad being a teacher at Christmas, for example, due to work commitments I cannot, unfortunately, attend my daughter’s primary school show where camcorder-carrying parents capture every second of the awe-inspiring happening. The school Nativity play has had a longer stage run than The Mousetrap, but surely the time has come for it to be given a political, social and economic reality.

This is how I envisage next year’s gritty production. The Virgin Mary announces she is pregnant by the Angel Gabriel, news which shatters cuckolded Joseph who had believed he had been in an exclusive relationship with her. (He will later demand a paternity test and is depressed to learn he is not the father, though not as depressed as the CSA official tasked with tracking down a fly-by-night cherub to demand 40-a-week maintenance for the Son of Man).

Forced to flee their homeland, the couple seek asylum in Edinburgh and search for accommodation. An altruistic landlord would like to give them shelter, but he has no room. Joseph peers into the house and points out that there is no one there; the landlord explains that he is also the tenant, causing a mystified Joseph to report Nigel Griffiths to the authorities.

Just when it looks as if a hostel for the homeless will be the venue for delivering Jesus, Joseph miraculously wins the National Lottery, thus the Madonna gives birth to Christ in Skibo Castle.

A bright shining star is seen all over the world, bringing great joy; in Athens, ten British star-spotters are arrested. A press release states that only 24-carat gold, and brand name frankincense and myrrh, are to be gifted to the child. Due to an exclusive media deal struck between the agent of the proud parents and Hello! magazine, photographs of the newborn King are unavailable.

Highland shepherds, who have watched their flocks by day, attempt to get a glimpse of the child, but are discovered hiding in the castle grounds and escorted off the premises by Rock Steady Security operatives. They were lucky - three dusky, bearded men, claiming to be wise and to have travelled from afar, were shot by SAS marksmen hunting for followers of bin Laden. David Blunkett admits a mistake was made, but partly blames the victims for not being more British.

Of course, the story of the Messiah has an unhappy ending when he is brought before justice minister Pontius Pilate. In a startling move reminiscent of cabinet colleague Cathy Jamieson, Pilate decides to abdicate responsibility by declaring that justice in the land of Israel be delegated to his deputy, for the sake of continuity, while he deals with the more pressing issue of organising more social workers to care for the needs of the socially excluded Hittite community.

Any Christians offended by my groundbreaking script should forgive me. Happy holiday.

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