As the school Nativity play finished,  I found myself, as usual, itchy-eyed and blinking back the odd loose tear. It always happens. I’ve now seen the same play ‘performed’ by each of my three children, and it is always just as hilarious, just as magical. It fires the starting gun for Christmas.

And, goodness, don’t we all need a time of comfort and joy? I am abandoning the credit-crunch gloom until January and planning feasts and presents as a last roll of the dice before embarking on Dickensian frugality. As I searched for inspiration for what to give each generation, I found myself pondering what the best presents I have ever given have been.

A bit of shabby pottery that I made at school and presented to my parents many years ago still stands in pride of place in a cabinet besides genuine works of art. It was made at a time when pottery rivalled rugby as the most popular pastime at Radley. This may have been because our pottery teacher was quite simply the most beautiful woman any of us boys had ever seen. That may have inspired us, but a gift of something made by your children is still the best present you will ever receive.