Dancing and delight.

It all came to a head in the foyer of the Royal Opera House, WC2. In a flurry of Christmas optimism and as an antidote to the January blues, we decided to buy some cheap tickets for a family outing to Don Quixote. Our two children are both keen on their ballet lessons and, with the youngest having cleared five years, it seemed more than likely that we would manage at least one act of this boisterous comedy.We were wrong. Having worked through the complex logistics of actually getting from work and school to the foyer in Covent Garden, we realised that the youngest member of the party had no intention of entering the auditorium. Amidst the swirling crowd, we huddled together and tried every means of persuasion, but it was indifference to the promise of ice cream at the interval that convinced us that all entreaty was hopeless.

The family party split up and, a few minutes later, I found myself high up in the gods with the remaining child, uncertain as to how the evening would progress. I needn’t have worried. Through three whole acts, the only perceptible movements were quivers of excitement. It was a wonderful performance, yet at the end, it was hard to decide what gave me more pleasure—the dancing or this child’s intense delight.