WITH its plot hinging on a leap-year birthday, there could surely be no more appropriate beginning to a February half-term than a performance of The Pirates of Penzance. The matinee at the Coliseum was filled with a quite improbable number of children, some of them even dressed as pirates. They laughed their way delightedly through the performance and its sparkling music, quite as witty and satirical as the lyrics.
Outside, winter gripped London, although the occasional swirl of a snowflake caused an ecstasy of excitement in our family party. The stallholders of the local market, now returning to their pitches after taking a well-earned January break, were understandably less than enthusiastic. At the newly reopened fruit-and-vegetable stall, however, I spotted the first blood oranges of 2017. The children were bewildered by my delight and responded with a volley of questions. They treated with crushing disdain my—as I thought—brilliantly extemporised explanation for the form of the fruit as well as the timing and brevity of its season (the absorbed blood of haggises hunted in the orange groves of Spain for Burns Night). However, they did enjoy them and agreed that they surely were one of nature’s answers to the February blues. JG