Categories
Family Honesty

Five reasons to give yourself a break – homeschooling special

If there’s one thing that worries me right now, it’s the pressure I hear my friends putting themselves under about homeschooling. And it’s mostly women. That’s not to say my male friends aren’t worried but it’s exclusively my girlfriends who are posting online about how they’re trying to build lesson plans / find new ways to get their children engaged. This is at a time when many of them are also working. Or trying to work. Or trying to create a quiet environment where their partners can work. And worrying about their pets and their parents and whether there’s a way they could be “maximising this time” to learn a new language or master a complicated yoga move. And all I want to say to them is GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Especially when it comes to the endless worries about whether they can somehow make up for the lack of schooling.

But sometimes saying “give yourself a break” isn’t enough. So here’s my five reasons why I think you should.

1. You are not a teacher

You know how you’ve spent the past two decades building a career as an accountant or a business development exec or finally reaching the point where you can run your own business? That’s the stuff you feel drawn to and are good at. Don’t beat yourself up that you’re not able to demonstrate the joys of past participles to your kids! And even if you harbour an inner desire to switch to teaching have you ever noticed that teachers generally do not teach at the same school their children attend? There’s a reason for that! No matter how much your children love you they might not want you to be the one in charge of the whiteboard.

2. Your kids might not be missing lessons

My daughter told me yesterday that she would quite happily continue to learn online as long as she could still see her friends. She is loving the fact that she can pursue the topics she enjoys at a speed that suits her. What she misses is human contact so my job is to try to be a pleasant person to be around. After I told her I was enjoying the opportunity to talk with her more often, her reply was “I can’t believe I’m having to give you all my best conversation” – all I can say is lucky me, she’s got good chat 🙂 As for my son, he’s had an abrupt end to primary school and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to do SATs. Again, what he misses above anything else is the interaction. Negotiation, empathy and listening skills are the order of the day – no-one benefits from a shouting match about how much work has or hasn’t been done.

3. Your school isn’t expecting you to replace them

Has your local school headhunted you to teach? No! (See point 1). What has been heartening – and interesting – is that almost every communication from the schools my children go to has included phrases like “Every family is different”, “Every child will feel differently about learning right now”, “Family wellbeing comes first”, “Do what you can”. The only place I’m hearing “You must teach your children” is from other parents.

4. Kids look to us for the subtle stuff

Have you ever been caught out not paying attention by your children? Called out on stuff you tell them to do but don’t do yourself? They will be watching our reactions to this more closely than we realise. And they’ll be hearing all the swears we mutter under our breath 😉

5. This is not normal

We’ve had tears, anger, frustration, lots more “I love you’s” and hysterical laughter. This is not a normal time at all. My kids’ classrooms do not usually involve two dogs and two working parents. Their teachers do not participate in Zoom calls while expecting pupils to get on with writing a poem about idioms. They definitely have never had a 25kg dog break into the classroom and turn a rug over because it has seen a cat out of the window. (Although, that said we have heard stories of boys farting on desks, kids fighting in the corridors and teachers saying “screw this”….).

So it’s all binge eating and box sets is it?

I don’t think that’s the answer but if that’s what works in your house, what keeps everyone sane, then who am I to judge? My personal view is that to crave routine is normal, to try to recreate a classroom among the chaos we’re all living in is setting yourself an impossible task. If you do one thing this week, put “give yourself a break” on the timetable. And if you manage to do it, give yourself a gold star 🙂


Like this? You’ll find more true family stories and lighthearted looks at life in my book Reasons to be Cheerful Part II. Currently available on print and in download format on Amazon (the download is just £1.99 for the duration of lockdown – you’re welcome!).

You’ll also find more tales of family life on this blog. Here’s a recent one on entertaining your kids for free: https://tonikent.co.uk/2020/04/five-ways-to-entertain-your-children-for-free/

Categories
Honesty Work

Six things I’ve learned (so far) about working from home

Working from home used to feel like a luxury but when you have to do it full-time it becomes a slightly different proposition than a way to grab some cheeky time to yourself, or a chance to walk the children to and from school.  Having worked from home for 10 years, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:

1. Inanimate objects have the power of telepathy

The washing up, the pile of post, the Lego that your children have distributed across the carpet. All of them sending out messages to attend to them. You will miss the days when you used to shut the door on it all and head to an office where the carpets are Lego-free.

a picture of the washing up

2. You will get through certain items at an alarming rate

Coffee, milk, bread, toilet roll. When you work in an office there are fairies that come and replenish these items. If you have the fortune to work for a corporate they may even top up your fruit bowl and have themed restaurant days where a chef will cook Chinese food for you at a vastly subsidised rate. This does not happen when you work from home and all that’s in your cupboard is a packet of Super Noodles.

3. Walking from one room to the other becomes a walk too far

What? You mean I have to walk from the spare room to the kitchen just to get a drink?! I’m not sure if it’s because you have to navigate the washing up / post / Lego to get to your destination but when I worked in a ‘proper’ office you would have thought my chair was on fire the amount of times I got up. That’s why…….

4. Sometimes doing the laundry is ok

With a chair that’s not on fire, and a feeling you can’t be bothered to cross the threshold from one room to another, let alone walk to the shops to replenish your coffee, milk and toilet roll, you’re in real danger of your bottom pooling until it cannot be freed from your chair without industrial cutters. Get up, stretch your legs, take five minutes out.

5. Mirrors and video calls are useful

Working on your own at home comes with a real risk of developing disgusting eating habits and unforgivable clothing combinations. Nobody wants to Zoom you to find you’re sitting in your pyjamas or that you have a big string of cheese hanging off your chin as you eat hunched over your laptop. Get dressed for calls or perhaps hang a mirror near your desk – just beware that you don’t turn into a budgie and start talking to your reflection….

6. Less time meeting, more time doing!

One of the trade-offs of working in an office is that you must regularly participate in the spirit-crushing activity that is Being In A Meeting. Usually someone will be late because they’ve stopped to buy a latte, or are in another meeting which is running over because everyone wanted a coffee. Sometimes you will get to the end of the meeting and nothing has been decided except flat whites are the new lattes. While there’s a distinct downside to not meeting your colleagues in person, now is definitely the time to embrace your opportunity to do!


Like this?  You’ll find more ‘top tips’ on working from home and tales of family life as if really is in Reasons to be Cheerful Part II – available for download for just £1.99 during lock down and £5.99 in print.

Categories
Family Honesty

Five realistic ways to entertain your children, for free!

Entertaining children is no walk in the park – especially if you’ve already had your exercise for the day and can’t walk in the park. There’s also the added pressure of unhelpful suggestions that somehow we should all be getting our kids to unleash their inner Galileo or Hawkins when all we want is Five. Minutes. Of. Peace!

So, to help other parents who are hanging by a thread after many, many weeks of being at home, and who don’t want to give any more money to Amazon, I thought I’d rack my brains for those times when my children have enjoyed themselves, it hasn’t cost me a penny and it hasn’t felt forced.  Here’s my top five:

1. Let them make a ‘potion’

Give the kids a bowl or jar and (almost) free reign to put what they like into it. When it’s complete, decant the potion into a used water bottle and ‘voila’ your very own ‘marvellous medicine’.  It will be disgusting but you will get at least 30 minutes peace.


Warning: Before you attempt this – make sure you’ve put the good stuff away or your favourite hand cream is going to go missing.

2. Funny face drawing game

Get a sheet of paper, fold it in three and take it in turns to draw parts of a face.  Warning can be addictive – you may need a ream of paper.

Double warning this can get very silly, very quickly – watch out for the addition of “wee and poo” to the character that you’ve worked so very hard to render accurately.

3. Tickets Please!

This was a much loved game in our family when the children were small. Here’s how it works:

  • You are the ticket inspector – it is your job to inspect your child’s ‘ticket’ (real or imaginary, either will do) and decide whether they are allowed to pass.
  • You never, ever allow your child to pass on the first go.  You must inspect the ticket, then explain in outraged voice why you cannot let them pass because their ticket is out of date / for a different mode of transport / poo-stained.
  • Once you decide to let them pass, you must let them think they’ve got away with it before exclaiming “Hey!  That ticket says Mickey Mouse / is a used chip wrapper / is poo-stained!”
  • You then chase them around the house / garden until they are back at the start.

4. Shout at your children in a foreign accent

This game started in our family when we found ourselves stuck in a caravan with no TV on a very wet day.  Having become frustrated at the children’s failure to listen to me shouting at them not to play with the pull-out bed, I thought I’d give it a go whilst using a German accent (and the handful of German words that I know).  It resulted in unexpected hilarity and gave us a welcome respite from playing Uno for the 130th time.

Note: You don’t need to speak a second language to succeed in this game, but you do need to shout like you believe it.  

5. If all else fails…..give them an Argos catalogue

I reckon Argos could compete with serious publishing houses for the amount of print that they produce…and the popularity of their free doorstop-sized shopping bibles.  This popularity seems not to have waned with the advent of the digital generation – my children used love them more than the internet (they’re 11 and 13 now so, of course, TikTok rules).

Far from turning them into mad consumers it made them aware of how much things cost, encouraged conversations about saving, and there was the extra bonus of there being absolutely no risk of them clicking a link and adding twelve Lego Death Star kits to my basket.

Warning: You need one per child or a war will start.  No-one wants to be given the furniture section while the other one gets the toys….

So those are my top five – perhaps not quite enough to get us all the way through lockdown but it’s a start – if you’ve got anymore let me know!

Like this?  You’ll find more parenting ‘top tips’ and tales of family life as if really is in Reasons to be Cheerful Part II – available for download for just £1.99 during lock down and £5.99 in print.

Categories
Compering Performing Stand up

Audiences, authenticity and attention to detail

Having run lots of events I know how hard it is to pull a successful ‘do’ together. Booking performers, managing ticket sales, bringing in catering and often sweeping up afterwards. It’s a stressful business.

Today, I’m fortunate that all I have to worry about is performing but experience has taught me a successful event doesn’t happen by accident. Last night was one of those moments – Gossip Girl Gang IWD2020 delivered in spades. But what made it so special?

An attentive audience

With the event having sold out, organiser Rachel Bradley had to reconfigure the space to fit everyone comfortably. And because she’s worked so hard to create a community, and had clearly communicated the quality of the speakers, everyone was invested in making the most of the evening. From ‘solopreneurs’ to people who work for multinational companies, they all wanted the opportunity to learn from some phenomenal female founders.

As host and stand up for the evening, it gave me an audience to die for. The ladies were open, eager and – thanks to fizz on arrival – well up for joining in and having a laugh.

Authentic stories

What was so striking about the panel was their willingness to share extremely personal aspects of their career journeys. Getting beyond “Yay, go you!” into the real-life challenges that inspired them to set up their own organisations, and the difficulties that they’ve encountered along the way, made for a more interesting, relatable conversation. It is very easy to look at leaders at the top of their game and only see the success – yes, Scamp & Dude is stocked in Liberty and Selfridges but I challenge you to read Jo’s story without welling up.

Joy from Tech Pixies spoke movingly about the impact of the death of her father and being unemployable as a pregnant woman living in a country where she didn’t speak the language. Did she hide herself away for her own personal pity-party? No. She decided to set up a community to help others who found themselves in the same position. And then she created an organisation to help young people at risk of unemployment. And then she founded Tech Pixies, a business that helps women carve out new careers for themselves via free social media training. Awesome.

And as for Sarah…. Well, she founded Smart Works Reading after volunteering for Smart Works London. She loved the work but found the commute a challenge. Where many of us would have looked for something else, Sarah instead created a branch of the charity closer to home that has so far helped 1500+ women back into the workplace. And earned her an MBE in the process.

So what did I do? Well my role was to warm people up and keep the conversation flowing. I brought people into my world of hand gestures and village life and demonstrated that you can combine tough conversations with having a laugh. Here is my “You are all village people now!” face:

It’s all about the detail

From the branded goodie bags to the carefully selected panel to getting local suppliers to provide the refreshments, Rachel had everything covered. And then I opened the gift bag she’d given me and found it contained a bottle of fizz that was not only from a local business but branded especially for her event – now that’s attention to detail!

All photos in this post (apart from the Prosecco shot – sounds a bit rude that!) are (c) Jon Bradley Photography

On Insta? Follow all the people in this post! BTW – this is not sponsored, I’m just nice like that – call it my ‘value add’.

Need an event compere, stand up or panel host who is as professional as they are funny? Then you need look no further. Let’s talk – email me at toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Compering Giving back Honesty Performing Stand up

Man Up? Time to talk about Mental Health

“Man up, sit down
Chin up, pipe down
Socks up, don’t cry
Drink up, just lie
Grow some balls he said,
Grow some balls..”

Powerful lyrics by IDLES on the topic of toxic masculinity. They make me think about the impact that language like this has and it’s why I’m supporting Emma-Jane Taylor by compering her event on male mental health in aid of Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

men's mental health talk info

Featuring a panel of mental health advocates and experts (and a bit of stand up from me) it’s open to men and women. You are welcome to bring your teenagers too!

So, if you’re interested in exploring how to encourage open conversations about male mental health, come along to the Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Henley on Thursday 23rd April at 6pm.

Tickets are available in return for a donation – click here to book yours.


Want to find out where I’m performing next? Click here.

Got an event with purpose coming up and need a compere? Book me by emailing toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Uncategorized

Are you feeling Januhairy?

I discovered yesterday that this month is not only ‘Veganuary‘, ‘Dry January‘ and ‘Tryanuary‘ it’s also ‘Januhairy‘. Being claimed by women who want to challenge expectations that they should be hairless from the neck down, it reminded me of a dilemma that many of us women face and how our brothers don’t seem to come under quite the same scrutiny – something I captured in a poem called ‘Bush Issues’.

Wear yours however you like, I won’t judge. Just don’t tell me how to wear mine….

Bush Issues

You know how it is when you want to go for a swim

You look down below….and the bush, well it needs a trim

You think to yourself, would this look ok?

If I stuffed it all in, or would hair start to stray

From the minute I set a foot into the pool

If I put on some board shorts, do you think I could fool

People into thinking I was a surf chick?

I could have a quick shave, but then I might nick

That delicate skin and come out in a rash

And I’d rather have hair than spots round my gash

If I pulled down the front, do you think it might hide

My topiary? But if I go down the slide

It might ride up and show, I’m too busy relaxing

Than to spend my time plucking and tweezering and waxing

And then I see blokes with big hairy guts

All covered in pubes from their throats to their nuts

Who don’t need to be shaved, but when it comes to my bits

They must be so carefully managed and it’s….

Very unfair and a little bit weird

That my foof must be manicured, but not a man’s beard

The filter gets clogged up with the hair from their backs

The pool would be cleaner if men all got waxed.

Featured in my book – ‘I Need a Wife’, I performed Bush Issues at the ARISE2020 Summit and would like to thank the audience and fellow presenters for their good humour – especially the gentleman who went on after me who said, “As a bearded man, I’m not sure how I can follow that.”

Want to inject some humour into your next summit or kick off? Book me to perform by emailing me at toni@tonikent.co.uk.

Categories
Stand up

How the WI has Stayed Relevant for 100 Years

I love the WI. Having performed for dozens of groups and with bookings stretching out to 2021 (know this if you know nothing else, they are organised) it has been my absolute pleasure to meet hundreds of women who are hell-bent on supporting not only their fellow members, but fellow human beings too.

Since its inception in the UK 105 years ago, its members have campaigned against FGM, for equal pay – back in 1943 – and resolutions under consideration this year include whether to place pressure on the government to legislate for female crash test dummies (women are significantly more likely to die in a car accident) and how to protect our non-renewable helium resources which are at risk thanks to our reliance on it in the medical industry (see – it’s not just used by ravers).

It’s all about singing Jerusalem isn’t it?

No. I’ve only ‘known’ the WI for a few years but in that time I’ve performed for a wide range of groups and while some do sing Jerusalem, there are probably more that don’t. And whether they do or not, they will all join in with a song about your dog humping your leg if you ask them to.

I’ve performed for groups that meet in the day and those that meet in the evening. There are those who drink wine and those who prefer tea and cake. But, until last night, I hadn’t met a group who class themselves as ‘New Wave’. I knew they existed, because I’ve been on Twitter and found groups in London and Manchester like ‘Shoreditch Sisters’ and the ‘Social Lites’ but until, this year, I hadn’t been invited to speak at one. So I thought I’d go and find some by hopping on the WI website and searching for interesting group names that were near to me. Which led to a booking from Thame Belles who most definitely fit the New Wave bill.

What makes them New Wave – and what’s it got to do with being relevant?

1. They ‘get’ social as a means to attract and engage members.

Thame Belles are on Insta. And they’ve got more followers than I have. I need to tap up their social media person 🙂

2. They know good design is important to make you stand out

Getting people off their sofas and out into the real world – especially when you want to attract a demographic that is typically juggling career + family life + wanting a social life – takes skill and persuasion. They’ve created some very cool flyers that are on-brand with their banner and list out the year’s speakers. For once in my life I got top billing 😀

3. They know the power of a free sample

The reverse of the flyer had the offer of a free meeting – nice work!

4. They don’t compromise on the core WI values

Being New Wave doesn’t mean having to rip up the rule book. At the heart of the WI is fellowship, truth, tolerance and justice. Its campaigns and mandates focus on serious stuff: climate change, mental health, ending violence against women. To call them “Jam & Jerusalem” does them a disservice that undermines their value as a campaigning organisation that is practical, ambitious and doesn’t shy away from difficult issues.

In meeting Thame Belles I not only got a warm reception, an excellent night out and the opportunity to perform a poem about intimate grooming under the watchful gaze of a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, I also got to witness how an organisation that has been very much part of the British landscape for more than 100 years will continue to be relevant long into the future.

Behold – Thame Belles WI!

—————————–

The set I performed for Thame Belles was ‘I Need a Wife’ – an hour of comedy and poetry that takes in some of life’s really big issues like how ashamed I am of my glass recycling bin and why I have totally had it with thongs. If you’d like to book me for your group or organisation – get in touch at toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Honesty Performing poetry Uncategorized

Why I Need a Wife

A few years ago I sat down and wrote a poem that reflected the frustration I was feeling with combining a career with parenthood. Before I share it with you, I should state that Mr Kent does his fair share of heavy lifting when it comes to family life – I definitely don’t have to go it alone.

But….but. There are just some things that seem to fall to a woman to do. And I’ll be honest, there are some things that I quite like to do. When it suits me. Having worked as a cleaner between the ages of 14 and 16, there are times when I love a bit of hoovering or scrubbing the grouting on our floor tiles. However, show me a toilet seat that has piss on it for the fifteenth time that week (par for the course with a boy in the house) and I am going to get very angry indeed.

And given that I’m self-employed, and work from home, it makes sense that I am the one who is there when the children are ill. Part of my reason for leaving corporate life was to be more available for the kids but it doesn’t mean that I always want to do it. When the children were much younger, it seemed like they were ill every other week – our nursery seemed to have a policy of checking the children’s temperature at the door. How I longed for the slap-dash parenting approach of my childhood where digital thermometers didn’t exist.

There was also the small matter of nursery and school assuming that everything should come to me first – why do I get top billing? Then there’s organising play dates which in my experience is almost exclusively a mum-to-mum conversation. Same goes for taking them to parties (oh the horror of having to hang around in a hot soft play), completing permission slips and sewing on badges.

It’s small stuff, I know, but bloody hell it’s wearing. Parenting is relentless, marriage is compromise and maintaining a sense of yourself without being a selfish arsehole can be a tricky tightrope to walk.

So I wrote the poem. And it opened up doors for me. It led to the publication of my book and dozens of paid stand up performances. My initial print run of 500 copies is almost sold out and the tally of people I’ve performed to now runs into the thousands. Not bad for something that was designed to help me let off steam.

You’ll find the poem below. If you want to book me to speak, perform or would like to buy a copy of the book, drop me a line at toni@tonikent.co.uk

I Need a Wife

I need a wife

Someone to organise my life

To do the shopping, pay the bills too

Someone to clean around the loo


Someone who remembers when term ends

When homework’s due. Someone who sends

Completed forms, and makes dates to play

Who never forgets an inset day


Someone who remembers all the clubs

Gymnastics….beavers…..judo….cubs

Who does the washing, the drying, the washing again

Who sorts darks from delicates, whites and then


Someone who can magically find

The one sock that got left behind


Someone to stem the tide of mess

Sew on badges, hem a dress

Insure the house and tax the car

Someone who knows where my bloody keys are


I look around my life and see

It’s chaos if you’re married to me

The kids’ shoes are missing

Disorder is rife

I’ve just got to face it

I need a wife

Review of I Need a Wife by June Sarpong
Categories
Family Storytelling

Countdown to Christmas

What a week to be a working parent.  The children are hanging on by their fingertips to get to Friday when 1.30pm brings the end of school and the official start of Christmas.

They are puffy-eyed, over tired and bordering on hysteria in that unique ‘it’s nearly Christmas’ way. At school, the curriculum has gone out of the window to be replaced with DVD-watching, clearing out cupboards and a nativity that for all its beauty (and the best camel outfits ever to grace a church) will have sounded like a doctor’s waiting room thanks to the level of coughing.  Book bags spill over with Christmas cards and sweet wrappers as the healthy eating policy gets crushed under a sea of Quality Street.

Patiently waiting port

And while the kids are at school I’m working to pre-Christmas deadlines whilst accepting deliveries, sending cards and adding ever more to the festive food list. The closer we get to the ‘Big Day’ the bigger our appetites get. We are wolves, salivating at the thought of turkey and gradually upping our cheese intake to make sure our systems are ready for the dairy-binge that accompanies the port that’s patiently waiting in the cupboard.

Wearing ‘Sunday Best’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner

I am trying so hard to be focused but there is part of me wishing these next couple of days away.  I’m eager to join the children in their revelry, up for letting my hair down and dreaming of those few days when I point blank refuse to do any washing.  Let the jeans and t-shirts fester in the basket, we shall wear our Sunday Best to breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I can’t wait until nothing matters but the next game of UNO and finding tree chocolates. Or to savour that moment of giggling and shushing on Christmas Eve when we sneak the presents under the tree. A tree which now lives on the landing beyond the stair gate thanks to our puppy who thinks that baubles are dog biscuits. 

Knackered

And it’s not just the children who are tired – we parents are absolutely knackered. Just as puffy-eyed and bordering on hysteria as our kids, we too are hanging on by our fingertips before we can take time off.

After school and down the pub, we empathise and encourage each other to give it one last push before we can run out whooping and yelling into the December air – we can taste time off and it Tastes. Like. Christmas.  

So if you’re feeling the strain this week, just know you’re not alone. Take a pause and take a deep breath – together we’ll get through this – let the countdown begin!


Like my writing? Check out my books

Want to hear me perform for real? Book me by emailing toni@tonikent.co.uk

Categories
Family Honesty

A Christmas carol

You know when you think you’re just going to hear a few Christmas carols being sung by your child’s class and it turns out to be a full blown church service?  That’s precisely what happened to me recently.  Perhaps the fact it was held in an abbey should have alerted me, but I couldn’t help but feel unprepared for ‘what I was about to receive’.

It wasn’t all bad though; the singing was great, the abbey was awe inspiring, I didn’t go up in flames and I learned a very useful lesson – some things never change when it comes to carol services.  I’m willing to bet you’ll find the same things too:

1. There will be a child who actually sounds like an angel

To the boy who sang the first two lines of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, on his own, in the abbey, in front of hundreds of people – thank you, your voice is a rare and beautiful thing.

2. Two things about ‘We Three Kings’

i. The alternative version

If the person next to you also knows the “one in a taxi, one in a car, one on a scooter beeping his hooter” version it will offer you a wonderful moment of bonding.  It will also offer you the opportunity to pass on a tradition when you teach it to your children later on that day.

If you’re really lucky, your child will later furnish you with the following bonus lyrics:

“Star of wonder, star of light, star that set my knickers alight. Westward leading, still proceeding, fill my pants with dynamite.”

ii. There is a pause

Don’t rush into “Oh star of wonder” – oh no.  It actually goes “Ohhhhhhhhhhh (wait for it) …… star of wonder”.  The woman next to me said it reminded her of the punk version of Nellie the Elephant.  Which means that I now have two reasons to giggle my way through the carol.  And two ways in which to get it wrong.

3. ‘Oh Little Town of Bethlehem’ sorts out the regulars from the visitors

Doesn’t matter how many times I sing this, I always forget that “How silently, how silently” should be sung quietly (shhhhhhhhh)

4. You will revert to childhood at some point

I found myself raising my eyebrows at the re-telling of the immaculate conception and associated on/off/on again of Mary & Joesph’s marriage, especially as it was being read by a child.  So when I heard a man behind me say, “Oh, isn’t the text wonderful”, I presumed he was joking.  But as I turned to him in shared mirth I discovered that he was in fact A MONK.  A monk that was stood next to A NUN.  Neither of them were laughing.  Oh the hot flush of chastisement coupled with wanting to cry with embarrassed laughter.  Such. A. Child. 

5. ‘Silent Night’ is best left to the children

Even the nun didn’t try “sleep in heavenly pea……..eeeeeeeeece”.  Too high.  Best sung by six year olds.

6. Two things about ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’

i. It’s that volume thing again – the choruses start quietly.
ii. It contains the line, “He abhors not the virgin’s womb”.  And there’s no way I’m singing it.  Update it to “he didn’t doubt for one second that there wasn’t a reason to totally love and respect that woman’s womb” and I’ll consider it.

7. You’ll probably cry at some point

For me it’s all about ‘Away in a Manger’.  Can’t help it.

8.  ‘Sing Hosanna’ – still challenging

When I was at school the infants used to add an extra “of kings” right at the end of the chorus.  I went to one of my daughter’s first carol concerts and guess what?  It happened then, and it’s still happening today. 

9.  You should shake hands with the vicar on the way out

Whether it’s “thanks for the carol service”, “Merry Christmas” or “that’s out of the way for another year”, it seems a fitting way to finish.


Like my writing? Check out my books

Want to hear me perform for real? Book me by emailing toni@tonikent.co.uk