Kirkland & Dowell in R&J

Today my ballet teacher asked us all to be deeply romantic in class because “What is tomorrow?” “Saturday!” chorused 19 Richmond ladies. Ballet teacher reddened. “I meant Sunday,” he admitted. Yes, folks, it is Valentine’s Day. Wheeee! Another ghastly American “festival” import, designed to make a lot of money out of you if you’re happily attached and calculated to make you feel c**p if you’re not. I can confirm that our local Waitrose is selling bunches of red roses for 50 QUID a pop tonight. Hasn’t anyone told them that the bankers’ bonuses have been cut?

For Friday Historical, then, and at no extra charge, here are the fabulous Gelsey Kirkland and Anthony Dowell dancing the Balcony Scene from Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. The ballet is on at the Royal Opera House now, running until 10 March – tomorrow evening, beg, borrow or steal a ticket for real-life romance partnership Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares.

The film above is historical, I hasten to add, only because neither Kirkland or Dowell is now dancing these roles; as far as I am aware, they’re both very much alive and well. Indeed it was only a few months ago that I was sitting at the stage door of Covent Garden waiting to interview someone when I heard the doorman say to a departing figure, “Bye-bye, Sir Anthony!” Alas, my former pin-up walked straight past me and I didn’t even spot him.

As if that wasn’t unromantic enough, it so happens that the Tomcat and I met for the first time on 16 February – we’d have met on 14th at an LPO Valentine’s Day gig, but he was off with a bad back. So now we celebrate Valentine’s two days late, on our anniversary, when the roses are being sold off cheap. Recommended. And this time I can add spice: our ballet teacher taught us today how to say “I love you” in classical mime.

Here goes. Dear readers, you can’t see me as I perform this time-honoured routine (which is probably just as well), but this is for YOU:

I (point gracefully into own solar plexus)

You (extend same hand elegantly towards object of affection, pointing tactfully)

Love (crossing wrists, cup both hands tenderly up into a wing-shape just in front of the heart, with eyes demurely lowered)…

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"