Monday, 21 December 2009
To mark the season, a mini dialogue which seems to be about religion but isn’t. It’s triggered by a sentence in The Bible which always fascinated me. I remember very early on hearing that Joseph and Mary were engaged and that, when she told him about being ‘with child’ he was ‘minded to put her away privily’. Back then, I wasn’t sure what it meant – it sounded as if he locked her up somewhere or maybe did even worse Mafia-type things. When I eventually wrote this sketch, it wasn’t about divinity or Christianity or anything, it was simply me imagining a scene between an engaged couple sharing some … well … surprising news. It could have been touching, angry, jammed with revelations and spirituality, or just dull. So please don’t be offended by it. It’s not about religion, it’s about writing.
The scene is a carpenter’s shop. Joe is sawing a particularly difficult tenon joint. He’s interrupted by the sudden arrival of his fiancée Mary. He stops sawing.
JOSEPH: Hello, love. What’s up?
MARY: Joe … We’re going to have to get married.
JOSEPH: Eh? What for?
MARY: I’m pregnant.
JOSEPH: What? I thought you was a virgin.
MARY: I am. But I’m still pregnant.
JOSEPH: I don’t believe it. How could you do that to me?
MARY: No, Joe. I’m still a virgin. Honest.
JOSEPH: Pull the other one. Go and marry the bloke what did it.
MARY: There wasn’t any bloke.
JOSEPH: Oh, Act of God, I s’pose.
MARY: Sort of . . . Let me explain.
JOSEPH: It’d better be good.
MARY: Well, last night, I was in bed asleep, and suddenly I woke up, and there was this bloke standin by the bed. With big wings stickin out the back. He said … Well, he said he was an angel. Called Gabriel.
JOSEPH: And you fell for it?
MARY: No, honest, Joe. He never touched me. He never even put down his harp. He just said I’d found favour with God, and I was going to have a baby boy.
JOSEPH: Just like that.
MARY: Yeah. He said I was goin to be visited. By the Holy Ghost.
JOSEPH: That was his mate, I suppose.
MARY: No. I’m goin to have a baby boy, and he’s goin to be king and rule over the house of David for ever. And I’m to be blessed among women. Oh, and we’ve got to call the baby Jesus.
JOSEPH: Jesus? Well, you should’ve realised he was havin you on when he said that.
JOSEPH: Well, I mean, if he’d said Kevin or Arthur or somethin, it would’ve made sense. But Jesus? … Christ!
MARY: That’s another thing. He’s goin to be a Christ.
JOSEPH: What’s a Christ?
MARY: I dunno. But he’s goin to be one.
JOSEPH: Alright, look. Suppose I do marry you. Is there anything else I ought to know?
MARY: Yeah, we’ve got to go to Bethlehem to have him.
JOSEPH: Bethlehem? That’s bloody miles! And there’s no obstetrical units there or nothin.
MARY: We’ve got to have him in a stable and lie him in a manger.
JOSEPH: A stable and a manger? They’re not making a very good job of it, are they?
MARY: Well, it’s the first time they’ve done a saviour.
JOSEPH: And when’s all this supposed to be happenin?
MARY: Sometime around Christmas.
JOSEPH: I’m not sure about it. Sounds a bit dodgy to me.
MARY: Oh come one, Joe. It’ll be nice.
JOSEPH: Looks like I haven’t got a lot of choice, doesn’t it?
MARY: Not really, no.
JOSEPH: Alright then. I’ll still marry you. Come on, let’s go to bed.
MARY: Oh no, Joe. I’ve got to be the virgin Mary, remember.
JOSEPH: Eh? How long’s that supposed to last?
MARY: Two thousand years. At least.
Happy Christmas everyone. (Or happy holidays if you prefer.)