‘St Joseph’s Primary school good morning can I help?’
‘Daniel South for Year Four assembly.’
There was a pause then the voice said ‘Just a moment please.’
The door was opened by the Head mistress Mrs Clarke. She gave me a bright smile and said ‘Come on in Mr South, good morning ladies.’
I walked in to the school foyer, with the parents attending that day. We were ushered into the new hall.
It was Friday 9.am and the last assembly of the spring term. That morning as I’d dropped the boys off, Anthony my eldest had said, ‘You will come to assembly dad. Mark is going to be in the play?’
Mark as usual said nothing, his philosophy was always ‘Expect nothing, don’t get disappointed.’ ‘Of course my love, I told Anthony. I’m looking forward to it.’
As we took our seats at the back of the hall, I stood up to make way for Sylvia, Anthony’s best friend’s mother. She squeezed past ,then sat down beside me.
The children filed into the hall and took their seats. Anthony was there talking as usual with his friend Mitchell. He looked round anxiously scanning the seats at the back. When he saw me I got a little wave and a big smile, Sylvia and I smiled and he turned round again to face the front.
Little cuties aren’t they?’ Sylvia whispered. ‘I’m not sure’ I told her. ‘At breakfast today I seriously wondered why I became a father.’
She laughed then we listened to the Head’s introduction.
‘The theme of our assembly in this final week before Easter is the Passion Of Christ. Year Four have produced a short play about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. May we ask that you turn off your mobile phones and if you wish to take pictures please do so when the play is finished, thank you.’
A little boy and girl came on to the stage followed by four other little children dressed as angels. The piano player struck up a few chords and another boy and girl stepped forward and started narrating in turn. Sylvia nudged me. I looked at Jesus, it was Mark, eyes cast down to avoid making contact with anyone in the audience. We settled down to watch the assembly.
At the end the two narrators stepped forward and there was the usual homily about Christian goodwill and universal love then everyone applauded, and parents stood up to take pictures. I didn’t bother as Sylvia always shared her pics with me.
When the applause died down Mrs Clarke stepped forward to conclude.
‘Thank you all for coming, the children love to see their parents at assembly and my staff and I very much appreciate your efforts.’ She paused then went on ‘This term’s Mid-day marvel prize winner has been selected for his hard work during the year. It is Mark South. Please come here Mark’
The tears sprung to my eyes. Mark stepped forward. I couldn’t move from shock, Sylvia nudged me and I started clapping. Mark turned and saw me applauding. His face broke into a wide grin then he went quietly back to the other kids with his prize.