‘Just Doing my Job’ a poem by Clare Bevan (taken from Read me and Laugh, edited by Gaby Morgan, mentioned in a previous post). This poem was originally published in We Three Kings (ed. Brian Moses, Macmillan, 1998).
I love this poem, conjuring up as it does long forgotten memories of participating in the school Nativity Play. Not that I ever had a starring role, I hasten to add, my only ever role being as the inn keeper’s wife which only had one short line. Hardly a distinguished theatrical career.
The poem features several small boys in the role of ‘Herod’s Henchmen’, which no doubt required lots of parental assistance in the form of cardboard and tinfoil accessories. All of that charging around the school hall sounds great fun (not that fun was exactly the point of it all I suppose). But it probably burnt off excess end of term excitement in the process.
I have extracted three verses to give you a flavour of the activity:
1, I’m one of Herod’s Henchmen.
We don’t have much to say,
We charge through the audience
In a Henchman sort of way.
3, Our swords are made of cardboard
So blood will not be spilled
If we trip and stab a parent
When the hall’s completely filled.
6, Yet when the play is over
And Miss is out of breath
We’ll charge like Henchmen through the hall
And scare our Mums to death.
Of course, the sting behind the title of the poem is that a whole multitude of sins may be glossed over by employing the excuse of ‘just doing my job’. A lesson for children to learn while they enjoy reading the poem.
The striking painting of Herod the Great dates from 1886-1894 and is in the Brooklyn Museum (image courtesy of Wikipedia).