I’ve just hear two horror stories to set my teeth on edge as we slide inexorably into Nativity season.
For all those parents who’ve been there so often it’s now become an ordeal I apologise. For all those singletons fed-up hearing about other people’s bairns, I am likewise very sorry.
However, it’s my nipper’s first school Nativity play this Christmas, and as landmarks go, it’s a biggie and I’m looking forward to it. As you might expect my other half is positively agog at the thought of seeing our daughter joining the chorus of angels and singing her wee heart out.
Being Primary One, I expect there’ll be no end of hilarity as unselfconscious kids shrug off stage fright, blithely ditch the normal rules of decorum and jettison all vestiges of order and organisation to squint, wave and shout at assembled relatives in the audience.
What is really concerning me, though, is whether or not I’ll be able to catch any of this on video.
In 2002 the City of Edinburgh Council issued a blanket ban preventing parents from videoing or photographing school nativity plays to prevent the footage falling into the hands of paedophiles. Or some other such ludicrous, Politically Correct mgumbo.
There’s no doubt it was a great story at the time. What the Daily Telegraph used to refer to as a “marmalade dropper” because it was the type of yarn guaranteed to leave its army middle class readers so incredulous they were likely to fumble their breakfast toast.
However, after the initial shock value, it inevitably it turned into a convoluted, tortuous affair with much legal to-ing and fro-ing. At the time I was coping with a newborn and the prospect of our pink, wailing and wee-ing bundle appearing in Nativity was a loooong way off. In short I lost track of the stoy. The result is this: I have no idea if the ban is still in place and if it applies to my daughter’s school.
What I do know is that two recent stories have set my mind a-racing – and fearing the worst.
The first is from a Simon Thomasson – a great guy I met through our mutual pal Richard Neville during a very memorable trip to France in 2006. Since then I’ve enjoyed getting out for a few pints with Simon and also been delighted that his company, Interact IT has finally sorted out the long, drawn-out IT woes that dogged my own business for years. Top bloke – and if you need any IT support I can’t recommend Interact highly enough.
Simon is a very even-tempered, naturally cheerful bloke. But he was left decidedly down in the mouth by the video ban imposed during their recent school play week. Simon’s lad had the lead role and proud dad and the rest of the family were understandably chuffed to bits.
They’ll always cherish the memory of seeing their boy’s big moment on stage – and attended all three performances. But memories are all they have. Despite the rise of the internet, the fact that even the most basic mobile phones shoot video and the advent of You Tube, none of the proud parents at the school were allowed to film the show. I was aghast when he explained that a very small number of parents had vetoed the request of the majority to film the occasion.
Then last night I heard another story that left me grinding my teeth in frustration. Another pal – this time in Glasgow – is looking forward to a school festive show where the kids have been asked to sing songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, while dressed like the biggest stars from each decade – The Beatles, Michael Jackson et al.
Sounds like great fun, right? And the good news is that parents WILL be allowed to video it. Phew. A victory for common sense.
In a further display of smart thinking parents asked if it would be possible to get a professional camera man in to capture the event – then parents who wanted a copy could fork out a tenner for the privilege.
Win-Win! Relatives won’t have to trip over each other in the quest for the best shot or angle; no-one suffers from having their view blocked by another parents’ handheld cameras; and generally temper-fraying antics would be kept to a minium. Hell, the school might even be able to siphon off some of the profits for the school book fund!
Once again though, the forces of darkness prevailed.
The school has been advised they can’t film the event for resale – since the kids will be singing tunes protected by copyright. And poor old Jacko and Macca need every penny in royalties they can squeeze out of greedy grasping primary three kids and their families.
There’s a black market in hooky DVDs so big that in Glasgow alone it outshines the GDP of medium sized African nations. Yet petty officials want royalties out of schoolkids.
Meanwhile our police and social services can barely keep tabs on thousands of known paedophiles the country over – so do-gooding bureaucrats pitch in to help by, er, preventing parents from filming their own kids at school plays.
The Season of Goodwill. Doncha just love it?