Monday, 21 December 2009

March/April 0000

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.)


  1. Brilllllllliant, Bill. I loved it from the first line with the cockney? accent? Hello, love...

    Merry Christmas!

  2. I wanted to say it brought to mind a scene from a Christopher Buckley book where Jesus was playing with his friends as a very young boy (before the more 'well known' accounts). He'd found a lizard and was playing with his new found talent - repeatedly sending it into the never never and bringing the little fellow back to life. It was hilarious and so human. It helps to bring some humanity to those venerable and mysterious texts.

  3. Glad you liked it, Marley, and your response was spot on - bringing humanity into it should always enhance rather than undermine anything. (And I'd have paid a lot to hear you doing the cockney accent.)

  4. My favourite line - "he never even put down his harp."

    D'you think Marley would do a better cockney than Dick Van dyke? Luvaduck!

    Hope you have a fab time with the family, Bill. Gramps deserves some spoiling.

  5. I love it, and the ending's just superb!

  6. Very, very nicely done. I too favored the harp line.

    Have any of you ever read "Lamb" by Christopher Moore? Check it out.

    Merry Christmas, all.

  7. Thanks all. Actually, I'm just back from a walk through the snow to get the paper and there was blog material there, so when I get time ...

    And Linda, I'd heard of but never read Christopher Moore, so Lamb has now been ordered.

  8. Duh, I didn't mean Christopher Buckley, slaps head. Lamb was the book I was talking about, Linda. Wasn't it hilarious?

  9. Marley, "Lamb" had me laughing right out loud - all through the book, something only Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie were able to do.