I dreamt last night that I went to the stable. I’ve thought about it often but this was my first true visit. I dressed up in my best clothes, scrubbed up well, and sprayed plenty of deodorant. Not that I needed to bother, the place smelt appalling, the mother was exhausted, the baby cried and the dad was too busy coping with a room full of shepherds to notice me. I slipped away. On the way out I passed an angel in the shadows. That didn’t go as planned I muttered. So she smiled and snapped her fingers and it was as if I’d never been, so I went again. This time I bought new clothes, and more expensive aftershave, and got a new haircut. I’d never looked better. I waited till the shepherds had gone and cleared my throat as I went in. I bowed low, but when I looked up the father was busy putting a new nappy on the baby and the mother had slipped out to the loo. That didn’t go as planned I muttered yet again. So the angel in the shadows smiled and snapped her fingers and it was as if I’d never been, so I went again. This time I had a set speech planned to impress the parents. Full of platitudes and compliments. The mother dozed off as I was reading it and a little drummer boy pitched up halfway through and bashed so loud no one could hear me. I slipped away. The angel was still there, smiling and snapping her fingers. Take four. This was exhausting. I bought a hefty sack load of presents and hauled them to the stable. But a bunch of rich folks had got there ahead of with some expensive incense, perfume and gold and my offering looked a little shabby. I gave it to the angel as she snapped her fingers. I went out into the street. I smelt of the stable, was sweating all over and had dung plastered on my legs and feet. I was staring into the unknown when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turned. It was Joseph, the dad, with the new baby in his arms. He offered me the child but my hands were encrusted with grime. ‘No problem,’ he said, ‘we’re all a bit like that tonight.’ I took the child. And for a moment lost myself in his gaze, then found myself reflected in his eyes. I looked at him and saw a glimpse of my own stressed and weathered face. Everything else fell away. For a moment there my worries and endeavours didn’t seem to matter so much. And that’s when I woke up.