Friday, 16 December 2011

Merry Christmas to all, ‘til I saw you some mo’! (plink plink plink)

What’s that about you ask? It doesn’t even make sense I hear you cry. Well, snuggle up by the fire and let Auntie Spidergrrl tell you the tale.

Yesterday I had just about the *best* day ever. I was asked by one class to read The Cajun Night Before Christmas and then have a sing song with the ukulele on the Twelve days of Christmas as I’ve been teaching myself to play. That sounded exciting enough, but when I arrived in school, book and uke in hand I was asked by 4 other teachers to come round and have a bit of Christmas fun as well! I am not fooling myself into thinking it started off as anything more than a teacher thinking “They are mad as hatters and hyper as a goose on tartrazine and the less sit down work we have to do the better. Let‘s just do some fun activities--particularly if those activities mean I don‘t have to teach.”   But they did turn into something quite different.
I can confidently read a book with expression with little to no prep but playing music in front of others is really difficult as I am still learning and often make mistakes. It was a huge leap for me to be brave enough to play Ruth in front of anyone. I hardly even play in front of Spiderman--I do all my practicing before he gets home from work.  I explained to the children that I was still learning and please be kind if I make mistakes. Each performance started off a bit shaky until about “3 French hens” and then I got into the groove and really played well. And year 4 sang the song with such gusto we had a proper knees up. Their gentle Christmas carol at the concert was like a rousing football anthem sung by hooligans. All the classes were so supportive and friendly and said how much they enjoyed it and how cool they thought it was that I play an instrument. And I thought, Yeah, I feel cool playing a ukulele.  I watched my dad (who desperately wanted to be musical) struggle for ages to play Tom Dooley on the guitar so playing Ruth the uke makes me feel close to him. He would be so proud of the way I have taught myself and can play songs with increasing confidence.  As Dr Who might say Ukuleles are cool (along with bow ties and fezzes)
The Cajun Night Before Christmas is a great story that probably all Louisiana chirren know, but it is a novelty over in merry old England. The language is quite reminiscent of the patois of Afro Caribbean speakers. We had a great time trying to decipher the words and studying the pictures and every class had a go at saying the words aloud. We passed a good time, cher.

How I got a copy of the book is a strange and interesting tale. I had a copy as child as did Spiderman (I think in the 1970s it was mandatory) but when we moved overseas and could only take the 200 books we could not live without, it made the cut. But last year one of teachers found a copy in the second hand book sale at David’s Bookshop in Letchworth for £2! How in the world did a copy get there I’ll never know, but she saw it was about Louisiana and bought it for me as a pressie. Thanks Mel!

It was a great day for me and a huge confidence builder playing the ukulele in front of others and sometimes it did go wrong, but I just carried on and we were fine. My dad would have been so proud. 


  1. I'm grinning from ear to ear...........what a neat story about how you got the book. Thanks, Mel!

    And what in the hell is "a proper knees up"???? I'm going to have to get a dictionary to translate're getting beyond my knowledge of British slang!


  2. You are so brave!!! I can read and sing in front of people, but would never attempt to play guitar in public! HUZZAH!!!!