My sister has been attending assemblies at her kids' Cookham school for something like 13 or 14 years (they aren't stupid children, she simply has three that have attended over that span of time). I've attended a few, too, but only for the occasional Christmas pageant, esp. the one where Luca played Joseph.
Last week I was in Cookham and the school was having another assembly, in which my nine-year-old, blue-eyed, Nordic-blond nephew, Ethan, was participating. I point this out because the night before, Ethan casually announced that for the assembly, he would be playing a Jew.
At the assembly, my "Jewish" nephew and his "Jewish" classmates acted out a scene at a long wooden table, which had the misfortune of being stationed directly under a crucifix.
But before the assembly started is where the real drama played out. My sister and I had already taken our seats when a parent she knows pulled her chair up in front of us and told us how thrilled she was because Jane had thoughtfully brought her a fox she had found.
"It's really lovely. The hairs are so beautiful and fine, and the colors are glorious, but it's starting to get a little soft," she said. "I don't know when Jane found him but he was quite stiff and easy to work with a few days ago."
Okay, I know all about soft and hard and hard being easier to work with, but I gathered this was a significantly different situation. Mainly because it involved a fox. And the fox was dead.
The best I can tell, it seems the fox made his way toward the light, but went with Jane instead of Jesus, and ended up modeling its fur for this Cookham artist before continuing his tumble through the tunnel.
"Tsk. It's too bad that rigor mortis doesn't last a bit longer, really, because I just adore painting this creature... oops, must hush now, the kids are coming in."
I'm uncertain, but I believe this is among the strangest conversation I've been privy to, and takes its place alongside the all-time strangest conversation, which was my mother waking me on a Sunday morning to explain that a spaceship had landed in the backyard and oh what a night it had been, do you want some breakfast.
Bring on the lady with the dead fox because I've heard it all.