This olive wood Nativity scene was a fixture of childhood Christmases, and I’ve yet to find one that I like quite so much. Oh, there’s always a bit of a debate about which of the Magi should actually be a shepherd, and baby Jesus is sellotaped into the manger, but next to this all the sets on the market seem tacky, juvenile, or both. (Not a word against my Playmobil set, which is, after all, a toy.)
There have been a few additions over the years. The violinist angel came from my aunt in Germany. One or other of my brothers added the ostrich and the elephant. And I think the phoenix and the dragon that you can’t quite see down the side of the stable were my fault. When it comes to it, our commitment to tasteful understatement tends to come second to a slightly childish sense of humour. But after all, why shouldn’t there be an elephant?