Monday, December 04, 2006

39 Christmas shows

Eldest daughter is now singing the full programme of her school Christmas show, for most of her waking hours. They have practiced it 250 times, she told me today, so it promises to be excellent. There is rebellion among the Year 1 boys who are playing travellers and are required to "skip around" a bit - they don't like the skipping and the braver of them are refusing to skip in dress rehearsals. We await the show to see if they are persuaded otherwise!

We don't need to wait to hear the music which we have heard non-stop. As she brushes her teeth,her dulcet tones ring out: "Thousands and thousands of angels in the skyyyyyy, the Shepherds couldn't believe their eye - ey- eyyyyysssss".

Getting dressed, she mixes it up a bit: "It's a long way to travel to Bethlehem, tra la la, and Mary did a poo in her pants tra la la, baaaayyy beee Jesus got wee in his hair, And we all go to Bethlehem."

We are glad the kids are getting some of the Christian stories through school, given our particularly lame effort in this area. Not that we wish our kids to grow up fearing the Almighty and quoting passages of the Old Testament at us, but we feel we ought to at least let them become familiar with a Christian upbringing. Our Muslim and Jewish friends who also have to send their kids to the same school (on account of there is not very much choice in Seoul for English Language education) don't share quite the same view, and have been quite alarmed to hear their children saying grace before dinner, and talking authoritatively about the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord! "I just really hope he doesn't say any of this in front of my mother in law when she comes to stay," said my Israeli friend! ha ha.

Our school is probably the least religiously-hardcore of all the foreign schools in town, but because it follows a British curriculum, the Christmas Term has a heavy nativity-theme. A new school just along the road from our house is an American school, apparently funded by and run along quite christian zealot principles.

Seoul is full of illuminated crucifixes punctuating the city sky line at night, from all the Christian churches. Over the last 50 years or so (I should check details but it is pretty recent) many Koreans have shifted their afilliation from Confucian and Buddhist beliefs to Christianity. The missionary zeal is still strong and I am forever being accosted on the street by missionaries wanting to save my soul, or having my door bell rung by Jehovahs Witnesses.

38 Brass Monkeys on the Korean Peninsula

It is seriously brass monkeys here now. The temperature has dropped about 15 degrees (that is C, not F) in the last two weeks and the days are now hovering around or below zero degrees. If, like us, you haven't had a cold winter in eight years, you really really notice how cold it is.

Korean women get a name for having a penchant for fur, and I can see why. It is not so much because of vanity, but because they make for the warmest coats you can buy to protect you from the icy Siberian winds. Any minks running around in my garden would not last long.

It is amazing that there is a population here at all and they didn't all freeze to death going out to check that their fermenting cabbage vats were not going solid during the winter months. But then they did invent under floor heating systems which must have been a joyful discovery for them!

They are a tough looking bunch in winter - the dark warm clothes seem to accentuate their hardy build - or perhaps it is only the hardy tough looking ones who take to the streets on these chilly days. All the skinny super models probably stay at home and watch Style TV - number 555 on the cable TV network and even worse than "it's-crap-but-it's-the-best-there-is" BBC World.

Frighteningly, it is still about seven degrees off the average winter temp of minus seven. Since that is the average, and it goes down to minus 20 sometimes. I don't think we will be able to go outside if it gets down that low. Or if we do make it out the door, we will be wearing so many clothes it will be hard to do anything other than roll down the hill forming a human snow man.