Mundoo School Concert

Bill has conned me into being on the mike. Something about my voice being clearer than his mumble.

I check myself out in the bedroom mirror. More dressy than my usual jeans and top, in honour of the occasion, but is it dressy enough?

Jim’s on the decking, feet up, enjoying a quiet smoke. A surprised look when I tell him I’m ready. It’s barely six o’clock with an hour to go before the concert is due to start. Must be more nervous than I care to admit, thank you very much, Bill!

“You look nice in a dress,” says Jim.

Well, thank you very much, Jim! How bad do I normally look, in jeans, then?

He drops me off at the hall and continues on to the Police Station. I spend the next half hour testing the mike and checking the stage. Then the children start to trickle in. I notice Susie and her friends behind the main curtain, herding a couple of angels into place. They are helping Janet organise the little ones on the stage. Susie gives me a little smile, as if to say, “Don’t worry, Ms Teal. It’ll be all right.”

The hall is starting to fill up. I’m watching from my spot behind the side curtain when I hear a familiar little voice.

“But I just have to show Miss Tee …….”

For a second I think Ricky is about to come bursting through the curtain – how does he know I’m here, anyway?! I hear his protests fading away as he is led back to his spot on the stage, Susie telling him ‘it’ll be such a nice surprise for Ms Teal when she gets to see it’ .

Okay, folks …. I brace myself …… Showtime!

I step up to the mike and wait for the audience to settle. It looks like every single body in Mundoo is crammed into the hall. A ripple of shushing then silence, all eyes expectantly on me. I see Bill holding up the back wall, a position that lets him keep an eye on everyone. His arms are folded. He acknowledges the look I fix on him with a broad smile and a cute little wave close to his chest. Don’t you worry, mate. I’ll get you for this.

I begin with the usual, welcoming everyone and hoping they’ll enjoy the little show we’ve been working so hard to prepare for them. Then I announce the first item: Miss Dunstan’s class performing the Nativity Play.

I retreat to the cover of the side curtain and watch. They look so adorable and it’s not only me who is touched by the sweet little angels. In the audience tissues are being pried out of handbags and sleeves and pocket and dabbed at eyes. A collective smile surges from the audience and envelops the performing youngsters in its warm glow.

“Miss Tee! Miss Tee!”

One of the shepherds is waving to me. I look desperately behind me for Susie to come to my rescue but the shepherds are on the stage and there’s nothing even Susie can do. I put a finger to my lips. Ricky holds something up for me to see. I shake my head, frowning. He takes that to mean I can’t see and starts across the stage towards me. I’m waving frantically for him to go back. Some in the audience have worked out what’s going on, pointing me out to those who haven’t yet spotted me hiding in the side curtain.

The audience is enjoying this new twist to the Nativity Play. I glance at Bill. He’s chuckling away.

“Look, Miss Tee,” beams the little shepherd, holding up a lamb for me. A couple of curious angels have decided to follow him. “It’s Sweetie,” Ricky informs me. Every time he opens his mouth he gets a roar of laughter. Talk about an easy audience. “Do you want a pat?” He holds the lamb up to me. And the lamb does what lambs do.

“Ee-oow!” squeal the angels, flapping their wings and jumping back. “It poo-ed! It poo-ed!” They giggle, pointing to the little scattering of pellets. A third angel arrives late on the scene and picks up one of the pellets. “It’s poo!!” the other two tell him but he doesn’t believe them and takes a tentative sniff. I have to admit in this light the pellets could be mistaken for chocolate-coated lollies. Then the three run back to centre stage to inform the rest of the cast. In case they haven’t heard. Which the entire hall obviously has. I guess I should be grateful Ricky didn’t bring his pony. It takes a while for things to settle down. The play continues on a very up-beat note. At some stage the pellets disappear.

Next, the middle primary class entertains us with a collation of Christmas Carols, Fran on the piano, Alison conducting. No livestock on stage.

A short break follows while my class gets the stage ready for our item. I glance around the hall and see Melva. She’s holding a baby for a young mum who is busy with its older sibling whose wings have come adrift. I could be imagining it, distance and all, a sadness in the look on Melva’s face as she coos and cuddles the bub.

Break over, my class performs a rap improvisation of ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ with a couple of lines deleted out of respect for adult sensitivities. Though after their reaction to Ricky’s lamb doing a dump on the stage I wonder why I bothered.

The evening ends with a short Headmaster’s Report from Bill and I take note that his voice comes across clear as a bell. Formalities over, the piano is rolled onto the stage. Bill sits on the stool and rolls up his sleeves. The audience cheer and clap. He gives them a crooked smile and commences to make that piano sit up and sing. He sees me watching from my hidey spot behind the side curtain.

“Ah! Miss Tee! Miss Tee!” he calls, beaming in my direction. “Want to turn the pages for me?”

A roar of laughter as I slink to the piano. “I hate you, Bill,” I hiss through gritted teeth.

“Love you too, El,” he grins, leaning towards me.

At some stage towards the end of all this I see Jim standing by the door.

“What are you looking so pleased about, El?”

“Thinking what I’d like for Christmas.”

“Well, hang up your stocking, girl. You never know your luck.”

“Got no stockings big enough, Bill.”

chapter 1

Mundoo School Concert

Alenka Co

Stonebow, Australia

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