British pantomime traditions are bonkers – the dame (a man dressed up as a woman), the chief boy (who’s really a girl), contrived story lines, questionable jokes, animals characters… and audience participation, with compulsory exchanges of ‘O no he didn’t!’ and ‘He’s behind you!’
In this morning’s local paper ‘Christmas Cards For Care Homes’ describes how ‘…pupils across the region have brought a smile to the faces of care home residents’. There are many pictures of cute smiling children, masked care home workers and delighted residents each with beautifully made cards. Excellent!
There are no pictures of the teachers, patient and creative with cotton wool, pipe cleaners, felt pens, tissue paper and card. ‘He/she’s behind you!’ Out of sight of the cameras but visible and present to the discerning audience.
Pandemic-world tells us much about deaths rates but not recovery rates. Yet we’ve seen memorable pictures of recovering patients leaving hospital – clapped by the ‘he/she’s behind you’ – doctors, nurses and staff whose care and skill have made recovery possible.
A footballer remembers the youth team coach who first spotted their talent; the musician ‘owes everything’ to the patient perseverance of their violin teacher; the entrepreneur was lent £100 by a grandparent to start their first business… ‘He/she’s behind you!’ One person who encouraged, inspired and believed in them.
Of course ‘Behind every man is a great woman’. ‘She’s behind you!’ …Probably in panto-land she’s carrying a rolling pin!
Musing on words from 1 John: ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…We love because he first loved us.’
John could have said ‘He’s behind you!’ Jesus believes in you, encourages and inspires you… But he’s also in front of you as example, director and choreographer.
But I don’t think ‘He’s in front of you’ will catch on in pantomimes.